Executive Functioning: Common Brain Injury Deficits

Frontal lobe injury can cause executive functioning deficits. The term executive functioning deficits deals with goals, time management, and flexibility. If one cannot do those things, the rest of the brain won’t work very well. Imaging studies will show damage to the frontal and prefrontal areas in brain injury. This is consistent with impaired executive functioning.

Some of the areas where people have trouble is starting and following through with tasks. This may involve procrastination or poor planning and organizing. The patient may get to the end of the day without completing any of his or her goals. This can happen with respect to preparing meals, or other tasks throughout the day. It may not be obvious that the patient is having executive functioning deficits.

Gina’s husband noted that she has issues with executive functioning. Although she can plan and carry out some things, she has trouble with other areas. He gives the example of having to put a new insurance card in the car. Gina had forgotten and left it sitting on the counter. Right after her injury, she also had some issues with disinhibition where she would sometimes show her temper in the store, her husband said.

Chris also notes that she has executive functioning deficits. She admits to being chronically late for everything and blames poor planning. She can’t just simply get ready, but instead she will get distracted and start playing with the cat. She has to be pushed to get to places on time.

High achievers may have more issues from frontal lobe impairments than low achievers because they set high standards for themselves and like to go above and beyond. People who set high standards may need to recover more fully from frontal lobe deficits before successfully returning to work or school.


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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