A common traumatic brain injury (TBI) is injury of the frontal lobe—a large area in the front of the brain that is susceptible to damage from the sharp, bony ridges that make up the facial bones. The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for executive functioning, which involves (among many things):
- Behavioral function
- Problem solving
- Emotional control
Because current research on youth TBI typically focuses on children and teens, a recent study investigated the effects of TBI-related dysexecutive syndrome on young adults. Researchers administered the Dysexecutive Questionnaire (DEX), which assesses overall executive function, to 121 college students with a history of TBI and to a control group of 121 healthy college students. Participants completed tasks involving planning, impulsivity, abstract thinking, and other executive processes assessed by the DEX. Researchers found that the TBI group scored significantly higher on the DEX assessment, indicating that they have higher incidence of behavioral and cognitive deficits, as compared to their non-TBI counterparts.
Deficits in executive processing can have adverse effects for college students with TBI, as the university lifestyle and coursework typically demands high order behavioral and cognitive function. Clinicians should be advised that young adults may require specialized intervention for dysexecutive syndrome.