Brain injury effects
Perseveration & brain injury
Perseveration is repetitive and
continuous behaviour, speech or thought which is often due to
frontal lobe injury to the brain.
Perseverative disorders can occur with various conditions
including Alzheimer's disease, aphasia, schizophrenia, Parkinson's
disease, and brain injury.
An example of perseveration is someone sandpapering a table
until they go through the wood, or will continue talking about a
given topic even when the conversation has moved on to other
Another person might be asked to draw a cat, but if you then ask
them to draw a car or a house they would keep drawing a cat each
Perseveration occurs due to changes in various cognitive
skills such as memory, attention, and mental flexibility. Stress
and anxiety can trigger perseveration, or at the very least make it
What you can do to help
It is important to understand that when a person is
perseverating they feel unable to stop and will be made worse by
anxiety, so getting frustrated will only make it worse. It is
important to respond in a calm supportive way.
Try using redirection, such as changing the topic of
conversation or asking the person to do another activity. This will
often help them to move on from the behaviour, speech or thoughts
they are stuck on.
For example, if the person is stuck on an activity, engage them
on a topic of conversation not associated with the activity.
Conversely, if the person is stuck on a repetitive phrase, ask
them to help with an activity. This will hopefully let them move
As with most aspects of a brain injury, there are some key
fundamentals that will make life, and therefore perseveration, much
easier to manage:
- Sleep well
- Get regular exercise
- Avoid alcohol or limit your intake
- Eat a healthy diet and watch your weight
- Learn stress management techniques
- Maintain contact with friends and family.
Perseveration can be treated by behavioural and cognitive
training in a structured environment, and possibly by group therapy