Why do Some TBI Patients Experience Personality Changes?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can lead to many physical problems like impaired memory, frequent headaches, dizziness, and balance issues. However, TBI may also cause personality changes and this is something that many patients grapple with.

Fifty-nine percent of the subjects in a study in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation presented significant personality change after experiencing a traumatic brain injury. The most obvious of these changes include "neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness," particularly in patients with frontal and temporal lesions. 

In a more recent study published in the American Journal Health of Behavior, students active in sports who have experienced concussion showed a higher risk for depressive symptoms, self-harm, and poor mental health. Thus, a psychological evaluation following a TBI is essential to facilitate a better treatment plan for the patient.

The Impact of TBI to the Brain

Scientists cannot pinpoint the exact reason why traumatic brain injuries can change one's personality. However, experts in neuro-rehab widely believe that TBI affects the intricate connections between the cerebral cortex and the limbic system. 

The cerebral cortex helps the brain process memory, cognition, perception, and awareness. The limbic system, located below the cerebral cortex, is the center for brain functions like emotions and behaviors.

Experts at the NYU Langone Medical Center say that only 10 to 20 percent of patients may develop mood and anxiety problems after one concussion. This is a small but otherwise significant minority. 

Some experts in post-acute rehabilitation also believe that patients who experience TBI are already in an exceptionally stressful situation. People respond to any form of extreme trauma in the body differently.

Some TBI survivors may end up doing or saying things they don’t mean while other patients become more emotional than they were before they suffered a TBI.

Some patients present heightened aggression and quickly become frustrated and short-tempered. For others, the changes could be subtle and less significant. 

What To Do With This Outcome

Needless to say, it's challenging for many patients to recover from a traumatic brain injury. It's important, however, to recognize the emotion, and understand why these changes happen, to prevent a full-blown mental illness.

Families or friends around the patient must also be sensitive to these changes. Support from a professional is also paramount as therapy and neuro-rehab may help the patient manage and even correct these personality changes. 

Learn more about Neulife post-acute rehabilitation

NeuLife is a Residential Post-Acute Rehab facility specializing in brain injury rehabilitation. As one of the post-acute rehabilitation centers in Florida, its program includes physical medicine and rehabilitation, medical management, psychiatric and neuropsychological services, physical, occupational, speech, and cognitive therapies, behavioral, dietary and vocational counseling, and more.

Beautifully situated on 43 acres in Mount Dora, Florida, its inpatient rehab facility comprises over 60,000 square feet and contains 54 private rooms or suites. If you would like more information about NeuLife Rehabilitation Services, please contact us.



The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.


Dedicated to providing the highest caliber of care to individuals with brain injuries, NeuLife Rehabilitation is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
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