Brightway Logo
Answers & Community for Brain Injury
Ask a QuestionAsk Question

What are the most common social symptoms caused by brain injury?

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Speech-Language Pathologist

Answer transcribed from the Brightway Answers interview with speech-language pathologist Amber Kloess:

There are a few things that I see as a speech-language pathologist.

One is difficulty following the general rules of conversation, or what we perceive as rules.  Some of my patients may not wait and tend to interrupt or jump in whenever they see fit, and that's not always going to fly in various settings that you're in.

Sometimes talking too much or too little is a problem.  Inappropriateness in conversation is something I see every day.

Common goals I work on with my patients are to identify appropriate topics or to be able to carry on that topic without interjecting something completely inappropriate or random.  Turn taking and not interrupting, letting others speak, and maintaining topics are also things I work on, as my patients tend to jump around a lot and introduce tangential conversation.

I also see perseverations, which is where someone gets stuck on a word or a sentence or even a story and repeats it over and over again. 

Unfortunately with brain injury comes a wide range of behavioral and emotional changes as well.  I see a lot of irritation, anger, frustration, and sometimes aggression during my sessions with patients. I also see some impulsivity - saying before thinking - and that often goes with inappropriate comments.

Picking up on social cues is also sometimes a challenge.  If someone were to cross their arms, we may think of that as being standoffish or they don't want to speak anymore, but that can be difficult for a brain injury survivor.

My patients with a brain injury or who have suffered a stroke also often feel isolated and lose their friendships and social networks, so it's very important to keep those going.

Besides awareness, support from friends and family members is a significant predictor of recovery.  So you want to maintain those relationships as much as possible and reach out if you do need help.

I work with individuals who are five ten you know even more years post their accident and they are sometimes still recovering socially. One of the biggest things that we try to encourage is to join a support group. Being able to at least talk with somebody is very important.  Your local Brain Injury Association chapter would probably be a good start to find these groups.