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Traumatic Head Injury: Guide to Care Options – Part 7

Long Term Effects of Head Injury

Our serious injury care options series details treatment and options available for individuals and their families who have experienced a traumatic head injury.

For further information please see our Serious Injury homepage.

People who have experienced a head injury can be affected in a number of ways in the longer term, with behavioural changes often apparent. Even when a person has made an excellent recovery, the long term effects of head injury may mean they act differently in certain circumstances to how they may previously have acted. This can prove a very challenging time for the person affected by the serious injury, as well as their friends and relatives, who may no longer recognise the person they once knew.

long term effects of head injury icon 1Emotional problems after traumatic brain injury

Emotional problems after traumatic brain injury can be wide-ranging. They may include a ‘shutting down’ of emotions, such as an inability to cry or to laugh at things that are sad or funny. A head injury can also cause the opposite to happen, with a tendency to cry or laugh at moments that might be deemed ‘inappropriate’. Although very difficult, it is important for the friends and family of a person affected to not be overly critical, and to recognise any changes as some of the long term effects of head injury. Improvements are possible through retraining of the brain and reminding a person of what is appropriate behaviour may help with this process.

long term effects of head injury icon 2Brain injury and depression

Depression after head injury can be very common, and may be a direct result of specific parts of the brain being affected, those parts which regulate and control mood. Depression after head injury can also occur when a person comes to realise the situation they have been left with. A person affected by a brain injury may be unable to return to previous facets of their life that once brought them happiness, such as a job or particular hobby. They may find themselves cut off from friends or family members as they are unable to contribute to those relationships in the way they did previously.

long term effects of head injury icon 3Aggression after head injury

Aggression after head injury is also a common long term effect. This may manifest itself through people displaying a lack of patience, or getting angry at things that would previously not have affected them. Some people who have had a brain injury may swear more in the long term, even if they have rarely sworn prior to their serious injury.

long term effects of head injury icon 4Changes in sexual behaviour

A person’s interest in sexual activity may be decreased or heightened following a head injury. This may vary from a complete disinterest, to using sexually-inappropriate language in public spaces, to being more ‘forward’ with strangers than might be deemed acceptable within the boundaries of society. Although this may be difficult to understand, it often comes down to a part of the brain affected that controls impulse.

All of us receive thousands of fleeting thoughts on a daily basis, and our brain controls which ones we act on. We may meet a stranger in public whom we find attractive for instance, but our impulse control would prevent us from raising this point aloud. If impulse control is affected, then a person is unable to filter what is appropriate or inappropriate to say.

long term effects of head injury icon 5Support for the long term effects of head injury

For anyone living or working with a person who has had a head injury and is showing changes in their behaviour, Headway’s booklets on Managing Anger and Psychological Effects are an excellent guide to helping a person deal with any changes in their personality. Alongside this it is important to seek the advice of as many people in the healthcare industry as possible. The advice of a carer, occupational therapist or doctor may provide new ideas and suggestions on managing behaviour more effectively in future. Your local Headway branch will be able to advise and suggest other support groups which can help with behaviour management.

If not already carried out whilst in hospital, a person who has had a traumatic head injury may benefit from a neuropsychological assessment, which can happen following a referral from a GP. An assessment may help to categorise the long term effects of head injury for an individual and help with the identification of triggers that may result in inappropriate or negative behaviour patterns.

Serious Injury in the North-East

TLW have a local heritage, providing specialist legal services to people for over 15 years in the region. With extensive specialist training and an external accreditation from Headway (The Brain Injury Association), our serious injury solicitors work alongside experienced care and rehabilitation specialists to ensure our clients receive the very best professional advice and are able to access the brain injury support they require.

TLW Solicitors are here to help. Fill in our enquiry form, email us at or call us today.