Executive Functions After Brain Injury

Executive Functions After Brain Injury

Lawrence S. Dilks, Ph.D. Kimberly S. Hutchinson, PhD

Executive Functions control activities such as managing emotions, attention, concentration, categorization, planning, sequencing, problem solving, impulse control, reasoning, and judgment. Changes in executive functions often occur after brain injury.

Strategies found in this Tip Card can be helpful in the recovery process for the injured individual and the caregivers.

Item: EXFN
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Full Description

The brain works in a unified way that allows us to take in information, process it, and act in a purposeful fashion. Purposeful behavior allows us to live safely in our environment, accomplish goals, and succeed to the best of our ability. Although the brain works in a unified way, it is controlled by complex systems. Executive functions are a major system involved in controlling brain function. Executive functions organize and prioritize actions and behaviors. When injury to the brain includes damage to executive functions, the ability to do things like plan, organize, make decisions, focus attention, and manage emotions may no longer function the way it did before the injury. Fortunately, there are ways to recover functions and work around behaviors that occur as a result of brain injury.

This Tip Card will assist family members, caregivers, and others working with individuals who have experienced brain injury to:

  • understand the role of executive functions
  • understand how they influence the emotions, behaviors and thoughts of the person with a brain injury
  • provide strategies on managing the emotions, behaviors, and thoughts of a person with a brain injury
Details
Item EXFN
Year 2016

Authors

Kimberly S. Hutchinson, Ph.D.

She is a Clinical Psychologist with Counseling Services in Lake Charles, Louisiana and Physical Rehabilitation Services at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. She is a graduate of Barry University, Villanova University, and Fielding Graduate University. She has taught at Barry University and has a research interest in rehabilitation. She is completing a fellowship in Neurocognitive Rehabilitation at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

Lawrence S. Dilks, Ph.D.

He is a Clinical Neuropsychologist who has a private practice with Counseling Services in Lake Charles Louisiana and serves as the head of the Department of Neuropsychology with the Physical Rehabilitation Service at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. He is a graduate of Truman State University, Kansas State at Pittsburg and The University of Southern Mississippi. He served four years as an Army Clinical Psychologist and has taught at Northwestern and McNeese State Universities. For the last 37 years he has focused on helping individuals overcome psychological and cognitive impairments, always with the goal of maintaining as much independence as possible.

Contents

p.1 Introduction

p.1 Executive Functions: Emotions and Behaviors

p.2 Directing Your Thoughts and Behavior

p.3 Thinking About Your Future

p.3 Summary

p.4 References

Excerpts

Executive functions are a major system involved in controlling brain function. They organize and prioritize actions and behaviors. When an injury to the brain damages executive functions, the ability to do things like plan, organize, make decisions, focus attention, and manage emotions may no longer function as before the injury. Fortunately, there are ways to recover functions and work around behaviors that occur as a result of brain injury.

Strategies found in this pamphlet can be helpful in the recovery process for the injured individual and caregivers. Patience and practice using these strategies can help with emotional management, reducing behaviors that interfere with progress, regaining skills, and working around limitations due to brain injury. Working on improving executive functions can improve daily functioning and quality of life.

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