Hosted By
Sherry L. Pierce

Author of "I'M OK"



Brain Functions and Diagram
Recognizing where damage is located and understanding the effects


To read "Neuro Point of View"
by Dr. William Winslade

My intention is to explain and educate victims and caregivers about what to expect physically and emotionally.  Your symptoms will depend on what part of the brain has been damaged. To obtain this information, request a CAT scan from your neurologist or neurosurgeon.  Specifically ask, "What area of the brain was affected by the stroke?"

 When you know the area of damage, find it on the map above. Next, check the list below to learn which body functions are affected by that particular area. Hopefully this will give you some awareness of what your dealing with. (Picture provided by: Robert P. Lehr Jr., Ph.D.).

Sherry L. Pierce

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The Frontal Lobe:

    • How we interact with our surroundings.
    • How we react to our environment.
    • Our judgments on daily routines.
    • Our emotional responses.
    • Our expressive language.
    • Assigns meaning to words we choose.
    • Involves word association.
    • Memory for habits and motor activities.

Problems this can cause:

    • Paralysis of various body parts.
    • Problems remembering the order of steps involved in completing multi-task movements, such as making coffee or brushing your teeth.
    • Problems interacting with others.
    • Loss of flexibility in thinking.
    • Dwelling on a single thought.
    • Inability to focus on a task.
    • Mood changes.
    • Personality changes.
    • Inability to express language (Broca�s aphasia).
    • Difficulty problem solving.

The Temporal Lobe:

    • Hearing
    • Memory
    • Visual perceptions.
    • Categorizing of objects.

Problems this can cause:

    • Problems recognizing faces. (prosopagnosia).
    • Problems with understanding spoken words. (Wernicke�s Aphasia).
    • Selective attention to what we see or do.
    • Difficulty identifying objects and verbalizing about objects.
    • Short-term memory loss.
    • Interference with long-term memory.
    • Increase or decrease in sexual behavior.
    • Inability to categorize objects.
    • Right lobe can cause persistent talking.
    • Increased aggressive behavior.

The Brain Stem:

    • Breathing
    • Heart Rate
    • Swallowing
    • Reflexes to seeing and hearing.
    • Controls sweating, blood pressure, digestion, temperature (autonomic nervous system).
    • Affects level of alertness.
    • Ability to sleep.
    • Sense of balance.

Problems this can cause:

    • Decreased ability to breathe and control respirations. 
    • Difficulty swallowing food and liquids (dysphagia).
    • Problems with perception of the environment.
    • Problems with balance and movement.
    • Dizziness and nausea (vertigo).
    • Sleeping difficulties (insomnia, sleep apnea).

The Cerebellum:

    • Coordination and voluntary movement.
    • Balance and equilibrium.
    • Some memory for reflex motor acts.

Problems this can cause:

    • Loss of ability to coordinate fine movements.
    • Loss of ability to walk.
    • Inability to reach out and grab objects.
    • Tremors
    • Dizziness
    • Slurred Speech.
    • Inability to make rapid movements.

Occipital Lobe:

    • Vision

Problems this can cause:

    • Problems with visual field cuts.
    • Difficulty locating items in the environment.
    • Problems identifying colors (Color agnosia).
    • Production of hallucinations.
    • Visual illusions.
    • Word blindness.
    • Problems recognizing drawn objects.
    • Inability to recognize movement of an object.
    • Problems with reading and writing.

Parietal Lobe:

    • Location for visual attention.
    • Location for touch perception.
    • Goal directed voluntary movements.
    • Manipulation of objects.
    • Integration of different senses that allows for understanding a single concept.

Problems this can cause:

    • Inability to attend to one object at a time.
    • Inability to name an object. (amnesia).
    • Inability to locate words for writing. (agraphia).
    • Problems with reading. 
    • Difficulty with drawing objects.
    • Difficulty in distinguishing left from right.
    • Difficulty doing mathematics. (dyscalcula).
    • Lack of awareness of certain body parts and/or surrounding space. (apraxia) that leads to problems with self-care.
    • Inability to focus visual attention.
    • Problems with eye and hand coordination.

Neuro Point of View
by: Dr. William Winslade

    Among the most devastating effects of head injury is the secondary damage that can follow hours and days later. Like other parts of the body, the brain responds to bruising by swelling. But unlike the skin-covered leg or wrist, the bruised brain has nowhere to go once it reaches the inelastic skull. When this happens, pressure builds, and arteries and veins can be squeezed so tight that circulation to the bruised portion of the brain shuts down. The resulting oxygen deprivation can cause death or irreversible damage. Blood leaking from a wound inside the skull can form clots, or hematomas, that compress the area of the brain beneath them. The fluid that collects as a reaction to the initial injury can cause hydrocephalus. Draining it off lowers the intracranial pressure that may cause more devastation than the original impact. The higher the intracranial pressure and the longer it lasts, the more irreversible damage the brain suffers.

    Scientists still don't understand how the brain heals itself, so long-term recovery from any traumatic brain injury is uncertain, and its course is difficult to predict. Some victims recover spontaneously. Until recently, neuroscientists thought that much of the loss of capabilities due to brain damage was irreversible. We now know that rehabilitation sometimes can restore cognitive and functional skills and emotional and experiential capacity, at least in part. Physical, occupational, recreational, and educational therapies may have significant short- or long-term benefits in certain cases. Although a good deal of rigorous evaluation must take place before we will know which of the various therapies currently available or under development will work in which kinds of cases, preliminary research suggests that for many victims of traumatic brain injury, the potential for recovery is much greater than previously believed.

    Recovery from traumatic brain injury may be quick or slow; it may be complete, partial, or absent. It may come easily or require immense and intense effort. The anguish felt by the patient and his or her family may give way at last to success, or their hopes may end in despair.

    People who do recover from traumatic brain injury must be highly motivated and persistent. Supportive families, skilled therapists, and protective environments in which to relearn the tasks of living and make the transition from hospital to outside world play an essential role. Treatment and other resources must be available and affordable, but a certain amount of physiological luck also comes into play. So does a constellation of factors and forces that currently lies beyond the reach of science yet cannot be fully explained by faith and hope.

    The most comforting stories about recovery from traumatic brain injury have the timeless power of great myths. We love both the tales of miraculous escape, like Phineas Gage's, and the epics of valiant persistence and strength of character, like Russell Moody's. But we should not let these individual accounts obscure the fact that the broad spectrum of outcomes goes from full recovery to death, with a range of disabilities, many of them horrendous, in between. As we formulate our public policies and conduct our own lives, we must bear in mind that many individuals with traumatic brain injury never recover enough to lead independent lives. Their need for chronic care poses haunting challenges to our society.

Dr. William Winslade

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