Among the many challenges that survivors of traumatic brain injury must face, behavior problems rank among the most difficult. It’s important that behavior problems are identified and dealt with so that they don’t interfere with relationships, the ability to work, community reintegration, and recovery.

Types of Behavior Problems

Common behavior problems experienced by survivors of brain injury include

  • Aggression toward others
  • Aggression toward self
  • Tantrums and crying
  • Yelling and cursing
  • Explosive anger
  • Non-compliance
  • Property destruction

Causes of Behavior Problems

Both neurological changes and environmental causes play a part in behavior changes in the traumatic brain injury survivor. The initial causes are the result of neurological damage that occurs as the result of the injury itself. The way that people react in the survivor’s environment is likely to have an effect on whether this type of behavior continues to occur. For example, a person who becomes quickly frustrated and aggressive following a brain injury will encounter two reactions: people will reinforce the behavior by giving it attention, or they will ignore the behavior. Survivors who encounter the former behavior are more likely to continue behaving inappropriately, while those in the latter group are more likely to take steps to improve behavior.

Treatment of Behavior Problems

Treatment varies depending upon the issues, the training of the particular medical team, and the desires and cooperation of the patient. Putting the patient in a supportive environment where he or she can talk about his or her feelings can help them recognize and change their behavior. In some cases, prescription drugs are used in addition to counseling and psychotherapy.