Executive Functioning Impairment Predicts Poor Caregiver Health Status

man in hospital bed

Prefrontal lobeA traumatic brain injury frequently affects the frontal lobe-the large area of the brain that is vulnerable to the sharp, bony ridges of the skull that protrude from the eye and nose area. The prefrontal lobe is important for a set of skills such as problem-solving, planning, abstract thinking, decision making, and inhibition of inappropriate responses-skills known as executive functioning. As the frontal lobe is vulnerable to traumatic brain injury, many people who survive a brain injury show impairments in executive functioning.

The care of people who have executive functioning impairment can be a significant challenge. Family caregivers often have to manage difficult situations such as impulsive behavior, aggression, poor planning, and no concern for social rules. A recent study found that caregivers of people who have executive functioning impairments are the most likely to report both mental and physical health problems of their own. In addition, these caregivers experienced a higher perceived care burden than those who were caring for people who did not have executive functioning impairments. The researchers found that executive functioning impairment was a greater predictor at poor caregiver health than injury severity.

Family caregivers of people who suffer from executive functioning impairment after a traumatic brain injury should be given greater support and attention.

Bayen E, Pradat-Diehl P, Jourdan C, et al. Predictors of informal care burden 1 year after a severe traumatic brain injury: Results from the PariS-TBI Study. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (December 2013).