If you or a loved one is suffering from a brain injury, the process can be very confusing and intimidating. So, to help you better understand the nature of traumatic brain injury, here is a glossary of some basic terminology, written for non-professionals. If you’d like to learn more about the causes and treatment of brain injuries, or if you want more information about the comprehensive treatment programs available at NRI, please call (888) 298-HOPE or request a free assessment today.
Acquired Brain Injury (ABI): An acquired brain injury is damage to the brain that occurs after birth and is not related to a congenital or degenerative disorder, such as Alzheimer’s disease. The damage may be caused by a traumatic (physical) injury to the head or it may be due to strokes, tumors, infections, allergic reactions, anoxia, hypoxia (oxygen deprivation), or metabolic disorders.
Activities of Daily Living (ADL): Routine activities carried out for personal hygiene and health (including bathing, dressing, feeding) and for operating a household.
Ambulation: The ability to walk.
Apathy: A lack of interest or concern. Also known as Adynamia, which is defined as a lack of strength or vigor due to a pathological condition.
Aphasia: Loss of the ability to express oneself and/or to understand language caused by damage to the brain.
Apraxia: Inability to carry out a complex or skilled movement not due to paralysis, sensory changes or deficiencies in understanding.
Arousal: Being awake.
Ataxia: A problem of muscle coordination caused by a brain lesion. Ataxia can interfere with a person’s ability to walk, talk, eat, and perform other self-care tasks.
Atrophy: A wasting away or decrease in size of a cell, tissue, organ or part of the body due to lack of nourishment or loss of nerve supply.
Attention: The ability to focus on a given task or set of stimuli for an appropriate period of time.
Behavior: The way that a person acts in response to a particular situation or stimulus.
Case Management (CM): A collaborative process that facilitates recommended treatment plans to assure that appropriate care is provided to patients.
Cerebellum: The portion of the brain (located at the back) that helps coordinate movement.
Closed Head Injury: Trauma to the head that damages the brain but doesn’t penetrate or fracture the skull.
Cognition: The conscious process of knowing, becoming or being aware of thoughts or perceptions, including understanding and reasoning.
Coma: A state of unconsciousness from which the patient cannot be aroused, even by powerful stimulation.
Confabulation: Verbalizations about people, places or events with no basis in reality. The patient appears to fill in memory gaps with plausible facts.
CT Scan: A series of x-rays taken at different levels of the brain that allows the direct visualization of intracranial structures.
Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI): A shearing of large nerve fibers in many areas of the brain rather than in one specific location.
Disinhibition: Inability to suppress (inhibit) impulsive behavior and emotions.
Disorientation: Not knowing where you are, who you are or the current date.
Electroencephalogram (EEG): A procedure that uses electrodes on the scalp to record electrical activity of the brain.
Executive Functions: Planning, prioritizing, sequencing, self-monitoring, self-correcting, inhibiting, initiating, controlling or altering behavior.
Frontal Lobe: Front part of the brain; involved in planning, organizing, problem solving, selective attention, personality and a variety of higher cognitive functions.
Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS): A standardized system used to assess the degree of brain impairment and to identify the seriousness of an injury in relation to outcome.
Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS): A system for classifying the outcome of head injury survivors. Relates to functional independence and not residual deficits.
Hemiparesis: Weakness on one side of the body.
Impulse Control: Refers to the patient’s ability to withhold inappropriate verbal or motor responses.
Independent Living Program: Primary emphasis is on community-based services to maximize a person’s ability to be empowered and self-directed.
Insight: The extent to which an individual accurately judges one’s own strengths and weaknesses.
Intensive Rehabilitation: An active, multidisciplinary rehabilitation program provided for several hours daily, using a team approach. Focus is often on skill development rather than on treatment of specific deficits.
Judgment: Process of forming an opinion, based on an evaluation of the situation at hand in comparison with personal values, preferences and insights.
Memory: The process of perceiving events; organizing and storing representations of the events; and recalling these representations to consciousness at a later time.
Motivation: Requires initiative and refers to the extent to which an individual desires to reach a goal and demonstrates actual follow through.
Motor: Pertaining to movement.
Occipital Lobe: Area in the back of the brain whose primary function is processing visual information. Damage to this area can cause visual deficits.
Occupational Therapist (OT): A registered healthcare professional who works to retrain those with brain injuries to resume the self-care activities important to daily living as well as evaluation, training and adaptations to increase function in vocational role.
Organization: Using selective attention skills, the patient correctly perceives stimulus attributes, selects a strategy, monitors use of the strategy and reaches a correct solution.
Parietal Lobe: Damage to right lobe of the brain can cause visual-spatial deficits. Damage to the left lobe may disrupt a patient’s ability to understand spoken and/or written language.
Perception: The ability to make sense of what one sees, hears, feels, tastes or smells.
Perseveration: Refers to the inappropriate persistence of a response in a current task that may have been appropriate for a former task. Can be verbal or motor. Repetitive.
Physiotherapist (PT): A registered healthcare professional who works to maintain and improve the movement and function of joints and limbs.
Post-Traumatic Amnesia (PTA): A period of hours, days, weeks or months after the injury when the patient exhibits a loss of day-to-day memory. The patient is unable to store new information and has a decreased ability to learn.
Proprioception: The sensory awareness of the position of the body parts with or without movement.
Psychiatrist: A physician who specializes in the prevention and management of emotional and behavioral problems with various means, including the prescription of psychotropic medication.
Psychologist: An expert in the diagnosis, management and prevention of emotional and behavioral problems who has a doctoral level education.
Range of Motion (ROM): Refers to movement of a joint, and is important to prevent contractures.
Retrograde Amnesia: Inability to recall events prior to the accident. May be a specific span of time or type of information.
Sensation: Feeling stimuli, which activate sensory organs of the body such as: touch, temperature, pressure and pain. Also includes hearing, seeing, smelling and tasting.
Social Worker (SW): Expert in the social, emotional and financial needs of families and patients. They often help locate services that are needed.
Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP): A regulated healthcare professional responsible for the evaluation and treatment of problems with speech and language, auditory, cognitive (comprehension), attention, writing, reading and expression skills.
Temporal Lobes: Right temporal lobe is mainly involved in visual memory. Left temporal lobe is mainly involved in verbal memory.
Transitional Living Program: Primary emphasis is to provide training for living in a setting with less dependence on others.