Anger and Traumatic Brain Injury

Many survivors of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) often deal with feelings of anger and irritability after their injury. For some, these feelings of anger can range from mild to severe, and have been studied across different samples of people. Post-traumatic anger is different in each individual, and can be complicated to understand because they cause different changes in the brain. These changes can modify behavior and create cognitive deficits that can interfere with the ability to communicate and socialize with other people. Additionally, many individuals with brain injury have a challenging time grasping not being independently in charge of the financial and social factors in their lives.

Researchers have determined that there are a few possible treatment plans for those suffering from TBI induced anger. Pharmacologic agents that include methylphenidate and amantadine hydrochloride are shown to be the most promising as of now. The beta-blockers in these medications reduce irritability and anger. However, lots of research is still being done on these pharmacologic tools, as it is unclear whether they are significantly effective. In fact, some of these tools may hinder cognitive function, which may frustrate individuals that have TBI induced anger problems.

Research of TBI

Researchers from Boston University, Harvard, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Rush Medical College examined green space and cognition. They studied thousands of middle aged women, and found that closeness to green spaces was associated with quicker thinking skills and stronger levels of concentration. The average age of women studied was 61, and 98% were white. The study was conducted from 2014 to 2016, and the main goal was to analyze participants’ attention, learning, working memory and psychomotor speed. Once the study was completed, researchers were able to come to the conclusion that being exposed to green space did improve psychomotor speed and attention, but they did not find any evidence that stated that working or learning memory were enhanced.

Overall, researchers predicted that there would be greater improvements in an individual’s management of anger post-treatment rather than pre-treatment. The study included a randomized control trial of 8 sessions of ASMT, and compared that to individuals within the “pre” category who exhibited moderate to severe anger. People were assessed at baseline, after the 4th treatment session, 1 week after the 8th or last treatment session, and 8 weeks after the third treatment session. Participants spanned from ages 18-65 years old.

Findings

The findings of the study were shown to not have significant differences in participants before and after they completed the anger self management training. However, some findings did indicate that those who experienced the treatment did possess greater levels of calmness than those who did not. While these findings may not have been what the researchers were expecting to see, the ASMT proved to be useful. 80% of the participants finished the treatment and were also exposed to tools they may not have had access to before, such as one-on-one discussions, a therapist, and empathy. Undergoing the treatment in addition to personal attention is promising for helping TBI patients struggling with anger. The utilization of these tools over an 8 week span can be beneficial for therapists and researchers to use with clients in order to help those who are struggling with anger resulting from a brain injury. Furthermore, while more research is needed, these tools can be useful solutions to help patients and therapists navigate anger resulting from TBI.

Source:

Hart, T., Brockway, J. A., Maiuro, R. D., Vaccaro, M., Fann, J. R., Mellick, D., Harrison-Felix, C., Barber, J., & Temkin, N. (2018, September 1). Anger self-management training for chronic moderate to severe traumatic brain injury: Results of a randomized controlled trial. The Journal of head trauma rehabilitation. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5593756/ 

Jenna Doran

Jenna Doran is a rising Senior at Temple University studying English and Psychology. She is very excited to be joining the HappyNeuron Pro team as the Content Marketing Intern this summer. Jenna has completed past internships and held leadership positions in extracurriculars dedicated to mental health and wellness programming and development. She is looking forward to utilizing these skills and working with the team!

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