Traumatic brain injuries can come with a range of ongoing and long-lasting symptoms, and these can be difficult for both the individual affected and the loved ones who care for them on a daily basis.

Injuries and long-lasting suffering can take a wide range of forms, including death, coma, and permanent physical disability. Executive dysfunction is another common side effect that impacts many victims, and this can manifest itself in a number of ways.

What Is Executive Dysfunction?

Executive dysfunction refers to the range of emotional, behavioral, and cognitive difficulties that can arise as a result of damage to the frontal lobes of the brain. The trauma suffered results in the impairment of executive functions, and can impact many everyday aspects of ordinary life.

Examples of the most important executive functions include:

  • Planning and organizing
  • Flexible thinking
  • Multitasking
  • Monitoring and evaluating performance
  • Problem-solving
  • Learning and following rules and regulations
  • Making independent decisions
  • Self-awareness
  • Social customs and behavior
  • Emotional control and regulation
  • Motivation
  • Initiating and inhibiting inappropriate behavior
  • Concentrating, learning, and taking in new information

Executive functions allow us to perform basic daily tasks, and most of us take them entirely for granted. Even a simple action such as cooking a meal will involve around five executive functions; you will have the motivation, which inspires you to start to prepare a nice dinner, as well as planning and organization as you gather the ingredients and work out timings. You will also need to monitor performance to ensure that everything is going to plan and think flexibly if issues arise. The meal prep may also require multitasking.

What Effect Will Executive Dysfunction Have On Everyday Life?

Executive dysfunction can make many daily tasks more challenging, and these can include a range of familiar scenarios.

Sufferers may not have the ability to initiate or organize an activity, including events requiring the ability to think ahead or follow sequenced steps. They may come across as unmotivated and lazy, with little energy or interest in everyday life.

Regulation of behavior may also be difficult; many individuals with executive dysfunction will suffer rigidity in thoughts and actions, and be less able to change or adapt their behavior for different scenarios, tasks and requirements. This can lead to inappropriate social interactions, or a lack of inhibitions resulting in strange and publicly unacceptable behavior. Many will be unable to anticipate the consequences of their words or actions, and may be unable to make judgments or find solutions. Individuals may be unable to initiate a conversation, or else jump from topic to topic, struggling to pay attention to others.

Some individuals with executive dysfunction find that they are overly impulsive, jumping into scenarios without balancing up the risks or consequences – this can often be seen in spending sprees or sudden job changes. They may also suffer from sudden changes in moods and have sudden outbursts of energy or emotion. Concentration is often affected, along with an ability to listen, retain, and implement new information. Memory loss is also common, and this can be confusing in many social situations.