What are Cognitive Problems?

Our cognition provides us with the ability to think and process information. An injury to cognition  can affect how we are as a person, our memory, how we interact with others, even how we behave. Cognition involves many of our thinking abilities, and if a brain injury impairs one or more  then it can disrupt the communicative balance mildly or even profoundly. 

A Cognitive Communication Disorder can significantly disrupt a person's life and can be difficult to cope with both for the patient and for their family. However,  it is often unseen as patients may appear physically well and speak clearly. Therefore it is frequently undiagnosed, leaving a patient and their family struggling to cope with symptoms that can be hard to label or put a finger on, or know who to ask for help. 

Someone with this condition may be struggling with daily living tasks or returning to work. They may feel mentally overwhelmed, overloaded, or are struggling to cope with daily life and can’t understand why. Or they may not be aware of changes in their ability or personality, but their family have seen changes that are difficult to manage. 


Conditions that can cause cognitive problems

  • Brain tumours 
  • Stroke
  • Head injury 
  • Parkinson’s disease 
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Brain virus' such as Encephalitis 

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Cognitive difficulties can include:

- Memory. Short term and working memory problems causing difficulty with daily living.

- Attention. Unable to attend reliably to a task, conversation, television programme, work, a book.

- Problem solving. Unable to think clearly or use appropriate steps to solve problems.

- Information processing. Reading and listening to information can be difficult to absorb, and can feel like an overload. 

- Organisation and planning difficulties leading to possible confusion, sense of panic, feeling overwhelmed or disorganised and unable to cope or initiate. 

- Orientation problems. Difficulty knowing what day or time it is, or where you are. Difficulty tracing your steps and then becoming lost. 

- Social skills and behaviour. Changes to social skills can be subtle, but alter a person’s personality and how they interact with their family and community. A reduced social “filter” may occur, saying what you think when possibly inappropriate; reaching anger rapidly; reduced conversational turn taking skills; reduced interactive ability or desire; reduced ability to cope with groups of more than one person. 

- Sensory overload. It can be difficult to cope with ambient noise, too much visual stimuli, or groups of people which can lead to agitation or withdrawal. 

- Insight. Reduced self awareness of cognitive changes and therefore the effects of CCD on communicative interactions and daily living. 

- Inflexible thinking. Black and white, rigid thinking after an injury, and becoming inflexible.

-Impulsive. Many impulsive decisions can be made that might be out of character or inappropriate to the persons usual life, for example excessive purchasing. 

-Over reliance on a partner or career in activities of daily living and communicative support due to reduced independent ability, confidence, anxiety.