Because of its position at the front of the skull (and large size in comparison to other sections of the brain), the frontal lobe is perhaps the most vulnerable part of the human brain. Studies have shown that the frontal lobe is the most commonly damaged region of the brain following mild to moderate traumatic brain injury. Damage to this part of the brain is often seen with traumatic brain injuries resulting from car collisions—the leading cause of traumatic brain injury in adults.
As the main emotional and personality center for the brain, the frontal lobe plays a key role in day-to-day function. Together, the left and right sides of the frontal lobe help control motor skills, memory, language, impulses, problem solving, and social interaction and behavior. Because of all the vital functions it performs, serious effects may result from traumatic brain injury in the frontal lobe region.
Commonly, patients with frontal lobe damage exhibit difficulty with fine motor skills, including an inability to make spontaneous facial expressions, use hands and fingers properly, etc. Complex chains of motor movement—for example, going through the steps to make a pot of coffee—can also be affected, making daily tasks difficult to perform.
In addition to problems with motor skills, traumatic brain injury to the frontal lobe may also impact the ability to think. Because this part of the brain assists with problem solving, patients with TBI to the frontal lobe often experience hardship with divergent—or, flexible—thinking skills that are required to make decisions. In some cases, and even with a good recovery, frontal lobe injury can result in long-term damage to attention and memory.
Social behavior is another frequently impacted area related to traumatic brain injury and the frontal lobe of the brain. This includes change in personality, difficulty with spatial orientation (for example, not being able to determine how close objects may be to the body), and trouble interpreting cues from the surrounding environment. Decreased judgment skills and increased impulsive behavior as a result of TBI can have a significant impact on behavior.
While some effects of traumatic injury are highly noticeable—bumps, bruises, and the like—those experienced as a result of an internal frontal lobe injury may take longer to realize. Because these are potentially life-altering effects, however, it is important to be cognizant and aware of the frequency of these injuries and potential damage caused by TBI to the frontal lobe.