Cognitive Disorders after Traumatic Brain Injury
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 4, 2024.
What is a cognitive disorder after a traumatic brain injury (TBI)?
A cognitive disorder is a problem with certain brain functions. A TBI often damages the front part of the brain. This is the part used for thinking and memory. A cognitive disorder can get better, stay the same, or get worse over time.
What are the signs and symptoms of a cognitive disorder?
You may have any of the following all the time or only with certain activities:
- Trouble paying attention, thinking clearly, remembering things, or doing 2 tasks at the same time
- Trouble sleeping or feeling tired all the time
- Changes in your appetite
- Poor balance
- Problems with your ability to smell, taste, hear, or see things
- Trouble staying warm or cool
- Anxiety, depression, or trouble being patient or controlling your emotions
How are cognitive disorders diagnosed?
Your brain will heal for many months after a TBI. Your healthcare provider may need to test you regularly to monitor your brain function. Your provider may use any of the following to help plan treatment:
- An awareness test may be used to measure how well you move or speak. Tests may also be done to check your memory.
- A CT scan or MRI may show damage in your brain. You may be given contrast liquid to help damage show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
How is a cognitive disorder treated?
A cognitive disorder cannot be cured. Your healthcare provider may recommend medicines to help decrease some TBI symptoms, such as headaches. A headache can make symptoms of a cognitive disorder worse.
The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.
How can I manage a cognitive disorder?
- Go to therapy as directed. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength and decrease pain. A speech therapist teaches you ways to improve your speech and memory. An occupational therapist teaches you skills to help with your daily activities. A mental health therapist can help you control your emotions.
- Help your memory. Write things down often. Use a calendar or an appointment book to remind you of tasks you need to do each day. Set up a daily routine.
- Get enough sleep and rest. Do not rush back to your daily activities. Your healthcare provider can help you create a plan to return to work or other activities. Your provider can also help you create a sleep schedule. Both lack of sleep and too much sleep can make a cognitive disorder worse. Your provider may tell you how much sleep you should get within 24 hours, including naps.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or have someone call if:
- You want to harm yourself or others.
When should I seek immediate care?
- You fell because you lost your balance.
- You have a severe headache that does not respond to pain medicine.
When should I call my doctor?
- You are sleepy during the day even with enough sleep at night.
- You have new or worsening symptoms.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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Learn more about Cognitive Disorders after Traumatic Brain Injury
- Medications for Central Nervous System Disorders
- Medications for Head Injury
- Medications for Head Injury w/ Intracranial Hemorrhage and Loss of Consciousness
- Medications for Head Injury with Intracranial Hemorrhage
- Medications for Head Injury with Loss of Consciousness
- Medications for Psychosis
- Altered Mental Status
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Head Injury
- Head Injury in Children
- Seizures after Traumatic Brain Injury
Symptoms and treatments
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.