Posted on January 28, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 9 of 12 in the series Betty

Frontal Lobe Challenges: Betty Part Nine

Impulsivity as one of Frontal Lobe Challenges:

Betty, like most severely brain injured survivors has frontal lobe challenges with impulsivity and impolitic speech.  She just doesn’t know quite when not to express exactly what is on her mind.  She gives the example of how, at least from her perception, she ruined Christmas.

My husband and I went to his ex-wife’s Christmas morning to open up Christmas gifts and she handed me a gift and I opened it up and it was a plastic popcorn popper.  I looked at it and I kinda made a smirk and I said, “you gave us this last year.”

 I dance to the beat of a different drummer.  I guess, well the only way I can say it, I see things differently than a lot of other people see things and when I act upon something I act upon it as I feel I should and sometimes it’s not appropriate.

Patience as One of Frontal Lobe challenges:

Similar to her problems with impulsivity, she has difficulty with patience.  She said she explains her frontal lobe challenges with patience:

When I’m in occupational therapy and I’m looking on, working on a big cross stitch project, I’d look at it and I’m halfway finished and I get angry because I’ve done stitches wrong and I have to go back and take ‘em out.  I used to try to cover ‘em up, which was not a good idea, and I’d take it into therapy and she’d say, we have to take all this apart and you have to do it again.  And then I would get angry at myself for allowing myself to just slop over the problem and think I can fix it in the wrong way.

Betty has classic problems with making decisions as another one of her frontal lobe challenges.  Deciding what to wear can take an inordinately long time, as can deciding what to make for dinner.

I have a hard time with dinner making decisions, what am I going to make for dinner, what am I going to, what ingredients do I need to make this product, decision makings like when I go to the bank, how much money should I take out from the checking account and then I just stand there and the woman would say, excuse me but we’ve got somebody, you know, behind you, if they can go in front of you please, let them go first.

Shopping is no better because of her frontal lobe challenges:

Let’s just say I shop a lot with my husband now because he’ll tell me to get something, I’ll go to the store and I’ll see this item, this item, this item, this item and I’ll come home and I didn’t get what he wanted me to get, which makes him –

Like let’s say if he wanted deodorant, I’d go in I’d go, oh we need some Pepsi Max, I’ll get some donuts for Saturday, I need eggs and then okay that’s it, and I’ll leave, forget the deodorant.

One of the hardest things for brain injured people is to regain the maturity to live independently.  As Betty said earlier, she didn’t like being treated like an eight year old but recognizes that was the level she was on in some ways during her rehabilitation.  Betty believes that because her parents (unlike many therapists)expected her to behave like an adult, she did learn to take care of herself and was able to live somewhat independently even with her frontal lobe challenges.

What basically happened is my mom said she never acted like this before she was hurt and she’s not gonna act like this in my home, in our home.  And she, my mom was a very strict disciplinarian and I’m grateful to her and thankful to her for all that she helped me accomplish.  And the insight that I got from my father as far as relationships and being able to talk to people and react in appropriate manners, I learned that in therapy and at home.

I have seen many other examples of severely brain injured frontal lobe  challenges. People relearning to become adults much more easily from parents.  Being scolded, ordered around, having expectations placed upon you is much easier to take from mom than from a spouse, a friend or a co-worker.  The firm hand of a parent is a familiar thing, even after a TBI.

For Part Ten, click here.


About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447