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    2. The Frontal Lobes – A Brain Anatomy Series


    Do you know what they do?

    Did you know? –  They are called Frontal Lobes because they are at the front of your head, behind the forehead.  Their functioning is key to the personality and abilities of the individual because they control two major groups of activity, Executive Function and Emotional Self-regulation.

    Did you know?  –  Damage to the Frontal Lobes can be caused by a blow to the back of the head? This is called a contrecoup injury, which happens when the brain is jolted by an impact and hits the bony ridges inside the skull on the opposite side to the impact.

    Did you know? – Executive function is the title given to skills required for planning and organisation tasks. This also includes flexibility of thinking, multi-tasking, concentration and the ability to absorb information.

    Did you know? – Emotional Self-regulation refers to the type of emotional and social response that an individual exhibits when faced with a situation. It enables a sense of self-identity and knowing what is socially acceptable and what is inappropriate. The Frontal Lobes also control motivation to start or finish a task.

    Did you know? – An injury to the Frontal Lobes can affect any or all of these functions, also to varying degrees.  Some people may be affected in a moderate way to both Executive and Emotional functions while others may show no Executive changes but major change to their emotional responses. 

    What might you see in someone with a frontal lobe injury?

    Nothing! – It’s possible that your client doesn’t even realise that something has changed.  As Frontal Lobes are involved in self-awareness it may only be friends and relatives that see a difference.  This can put a strain on relationships when a completely new personality comes home from hospital while the individual thinks that they are just the same.

    They can’t work – If the ability to organise and plan has been affected so might also be the ability to predict and deal with problems.  It is very common that a Frontal Lobe injury means that the person can’t carry on in their previous role.  This is a huge problem for the family, the employer and the individual both financially and socially.

    They seem lazy – After an accident an apparent lack of motivation is fully understandable but as time goes by the family can start to get frustrated when the individual continues to lounge on the sofa. The Frontal Lobes play a major role in motivating actions, when this is combined with difficulties organising even the simplest of tasks their inertia may be extremely difficult to overcome.

    They are difficult to live with – Lack of flexibility of thinking may well lead to the individual becoming dogmatic and when linked with a lack of an ability to control emotions every situation becomes a drama or a tragedy.  The individual’s mood may change rapidly and range from extreme anger to hysterical crying.

    They embarrass those around them – The person may lose their understanding of how to socialise and pick up non-verbal clues.  They may become inappropriate, irresponsible or impulsive.

    How can Reach help your client?

    Assess the scale of the problem – One of the first things that is required is a professional assessment of the scale and extent of the problems. Reach assessments will measure the individual’s abilities and pin point exactly where the problems are and the extent to which they are affecting the individual’s abilities. Feedback from the family is very important as the individual’s lack of self-awareness may prevent them providing meaningful feedback on how things have changed.

    Design a rehabilitation package – Each Reach programme is individually designed to address the person’s deficiencies, personal targets and interests.  The programme is designed bearing in mind levels of fatigue, family responsibilities and the person’s level of motivation.

    Introduce techniques and strategies – depending on the problems identified the techniques will vary but the introduction of checklists and electronic reminders can be hugely beneficial to improve organisation and poor memory.   Activities to address emotional stability and difficulties of socialisation can also be integrated into the programme.

    Practice continually – It is very important that when a new technique has been introduced the individual is encouraged to regularly practice until it becomes second nature. However to ensure that the individual regains their independence Reach programmes are time limited.

    To find out more about our rehabilitation programmes to help those with a traumatic brain injury to the frontal lobes, or with any other acquired brain injury, please contact us via our form, or call a member of our team on 01423 326000.

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