Brain injury effects
Attention & concentration problems after a brain injury
A brain injury
can affect our attention or concentration abilities, leading to
problems with work, study and everyday living.
The injured person may not immediately recognize that
their ability to concentrate is any different, and there may be no
physical signs to suggest a problem exists. People
often mistake problems with attention as a lack of intelligence or
motivation e.g. children with a brain injury are seen as an
uninterested or lazy student by the school teacher.
People who have sustained a traumatic brain injury or
other type of brain disorder may:
- Become easily distracted
- Have trouble keeping track of what is being said or done
- Have difficulty doing more than one task at a time
- Experience information overload
- Be slower at taking in and making sense of information.
Causes of lack of
A lack of concentration can be caused by many factors,
- Hunger, fatigue and tiredness
- Illness or pain (especially headaches)
- Dietary inadequacy, particularly B-group vitamins and iron
- Alcohol and other drugs
- Mental health conditions, particularly depression and
- Extremes of mood, including fear.
A region of the brain called the lateral intraparietal cortex
controls attention by filtering out what is and is not important at
any given time. This region then stimulates the medial temporal
area which influences the processing of visual information,
determining what visual information is attended to. If damaged, the
ability to maintain visual attention is affected.
There is also evidence that the cerebellum, at the back at the
brain, has an influence upon attention and concentration as its
core role of coordinating muscle activity.
Strategies to improve attention &
The following strategies may be helpful:
- 'Put blinkers on' by reduce all possible distractions in the
- Take regular rest breaks, have a nap or a walk
- Meditation, deep breathing and other strategies for
- Plan tasks with a simple step-by-step approach
- Break significant tasks down into small and achievable
- Write information down using notes and keep them in specific
- Use a white board to help organize, plan and store
- Use 'association' techniques e.g. medication on table with
- Get into a structured regular daily routine
- Schedule tasks when levels of energy and alertness are
- Eat a healthy diet and sleep well.