A Skull Fracture Can Lead to Cognitive Disabilities

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July 23, 2019
Edward Smith

Types of Cognitive Disabilities After a Skull Fracture

A skull fracture is one of the most severe head injuries that someone might suffer. Whether it is a slip and fall accident or a motor vehicle collision, skull fractures can occur at any time. In some cases, a fractured skull might heal on its own; however, in other situations, a skull injury can lead to long-term complications. Some skull fractures may lead to neurological complications through brain bleeds, cerebral swelling, and direct tissue damage. It is essential to understand just how cognitive deficits might develop following a fractured skull. Depending on the lobe of the brain that has been harmed, the neurological deficits can manifest in different ways.

Frontal Lobe Damage

The frontal lobe is located above the eyes at the front of the skull. If someone suffers a fracture of the skull near the frontal lobe, several symptoms might develop. The frontal lobe is responsible for executive actions, complex thinking, judgment, and inhibition. Some of the deficits that loved ones might notice include:

  • Problems with remembering learned motor skills such as buttoning a shirt, tying shoelaces, writing, and playing musical instruments.
  • Having issues processing speech, thinking clearly, concentrating on tasks, and planning for the future.
  • Issues with generating facial expressions, interpreting body language, and coordinating muscle movements.
  • Difficulty observing social norms, exhibiting proper judgment in social situations, and assessing the risks and benefits in certain circumstances.

Frontal lobe damage can be devastating because the long-term cognitive deficits can severely impact the relationships among family members and friends. Unfortunately, much of this damage will be permanent.

Parietal Lobe Damage

The parietal lobe is on the sides of the brain, located between the frontal lobe and the occipital lobe. If a skull fracture leads to damage to the parietal lobe, several cognitive deficits may appear. These include:

  • Numbness and sensory issues on the opposite half of the body.
  • Trouble recognizing objects by touch, which includes judging size, shape, and texture of whatever they are holding.
  • Problems differentiating right from left.
  • Issues with coordinating body parts in space. This is called proprioception. For example, people might have trouble reaching for an object because they cannot tell where their arm is or how far away the object is.

Parietal lobe damage is often permanent.

Temporal Lobe Damage

The temporal lobe rests just underneath the parietal lobe, behind the frontal lobe, and in front of the occipital lobe. Direct damage to the temporal lobe following a skull fracture will lead to a variety of problems that are typically related to speech. This is called aphasia. There are two main types:

  • Wernicke’s Aphasia: people have trouble understanding what is spoken to them. Even though they can speak clearly, they cannot interpret what is being spoken to them.
  • Broca’s Aphasia: people can understand what they are hearing; however, they cannot speak clearly. Their speech is often described as nonfluent and nonsensical. Their words might not even make complete sentences.

Depending on the degree of damage to the temporal lobe, people might also have trouble recognizing certain sounds or music. Individuals with temporal lobe damage might also have difficulty singing.

Occipital Lobe Damage 

The occipital lobe rests at the back of the brain. Blows to the back of the skull may lead to fractures that damage this part of the neurological system. The occipital lobe controls vision. Therefore, some of the problems include:

  • Issues interpreting images. This means that even though the eyes might work, the brain cannot process the images. Individuals might not even realize that they cannot see.
  • Trouble forming memories because they cannot process what they are seeing. Visual images are tied directly to memories.

Damage to the occipital lobe may lead to permanent impacts on someone’s ability to see; however, many people will end up regaining many of their lost functions with proper medical treatment. Skull fractures at the back of the brain place the occipital lobe at risk.

Watch YouTube Video: Occipital Lobe – Human Brain Series. This animated video examines the occipital lobe, the primary visual area of the brain.

Sacramento Fractured Skull Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Fractured Skull Lawyer. After suffering a skull fracture, long-term cognitive disabilities can develop. If a loved one has sustained a fractured skull in a traumatic injury and is experiencing cognitive disabilities, please call me at (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 for my receive free, friendly legal guidance and advice.

I’m honored to be a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum & of the Top One Percent, a National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

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Image Attribution: The picture used on this page was located first on Pixabay and has been shown here with the permission of the Creative Commons License

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