Frontal Lobe Head Trauma Effects and Treatment

In This Article

Trauma to the frontal lobe of your brain can cause a wide range of problems and changes to the personality. That's because the frontal lobe is responsible for shaping observable behavior and personal characteristics. It controls things such as:

  • Impulse control
  • Motivation
  • Personality
  • Problem-solving
  • Sexual behaviors
  • Social behaviors
  • Voluntary movements
Paramedic working on man with a head injury
Caiaimage / Trevor Adeline / Getty Images

The Frontal Lobe

The brain is divided into six lobes, or sections: frontal, parietal, occipital, temporal, limbic, and insular cortex. The frontal lobe lies at the front of the brain, beginning right behind the eyebrows, traveling up the forehead, and covering about a third of the top of your head.

The left and right sides of the frontal lobe handle some different functions. The right frontal lobe is primarily associated with non-verbal skills, such as interpreting social cues. The left frontal lobe has greater control over language expression.

Both the right and left sides of the frontal lobe communicate with each other, so damage to both sides tends to have more profound effects.

Causes of Head Trauma

The frontal lobe is one of the most common areas of the brain to be affected by head trauma. Common causes include the head being hit by:

  • A car dashboard
  • Front handlebars of a bicycle
  • The ground when thrown from a motorcycle
  • A tree or other immobile object during sports
  • An assailant using a blunt object

If the skull fractures, it's called an open injury. An open skull fracture over the frontal lobe may push bone fragments into brain tissue. It also increases the risk of infection, because bacteria, fungi, and other infectious organisms can now come into contact with the brain.

An open fracture may need to be surgically repaired. Any foreign bodies that entered the brain need to be removed, bleeding has to be stopped and the wound needs to be stabilized and closed.

A closed frontal lobe injury means that the skull was not broken or punctured. The damage to the brain may still be serious if the impact caused bleeding or tearing of any of the nerves and tissues. If there is serious bleeding that leads to pressure on the brain, surgery may be needed to stop the bleed and remove the blood.

Long-Term Effects

Damage to the frontal lobe can lead to a variety of personality and behavioral changes. Some that may impair learning include:

  • Attention and concentration problems
  • Difficulty solving complex problems
  • Language difficulty
  • Slowed critical thinking

Altered social behaviors may include:

  • Impatience and intolerance of others
  • Impulsive, dangerous behaviors
  • Increased or decreased interest in sex
  • Increased or decreased talkativeness
  • Lack of spontaneous facial expression
  • Responding inappropriately to social cues
  • Socially inappropriate comments or behaviors, which may be sexual

Other problems may be more medical in nature, such as:

Frontal lobe damage from head trauma manifests in many different ways, depending on the severity of the injury, what sections of the frontal lobe were injured, and pre-existing personality traits.

Treating Frontal Lobe Trauma

With any type of head trauma treatment and brain injury management, the initial interventions focus on stopping bleeding and managing swelling and nerve death.

A number of diagnostic tools can help assess head trauma and brain injury. It’s common to have both an X-ray and CT scan immediately after the injury. Next, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may be used to further identify which areas of the brain suffered damage.

Since the front part of the brain is closely related to behavior, a neuropsychologist may complete several personality and skill tests to determine which skills need re-training. Interviews with the patient, family, and friends help the medical team and therapist understand how the injury changed the person.

From there, a brain injury rehabilitation plan is developed to bridge that gap and bring the person as closely back to their original functional state as possible.

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  1. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Traumatic brain injury. Updated February 3, 2020.