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Left-Side Brain Injury: Symptoms, Treatment, and Recovery

man in front of drawing representing left side brain injury

A left-side brain injury can lead to difficulties with language and reasoning skills, among other side effects.

To help you understand these types of brain injuries, this article will explain functions the left side of the brain performs and the common side effects of left hemisphere brain damage.

We’ll also provide effective ways to relearn  language and reasoning skills

Understanding Left Side Brain Injury

The brain acts as the control center for the entire body and is responsible for both physical and cognitive abilities. It consists of two hemispheres, each of which governs the opposite side of the body. For example, the left hemisphere commands movement on the right side of the body, and vice versa.

For most individuals, the right side of the brain is responsible for non-verbal, intuitive and creative actions such as musical and artistic ability. The left hemisphere, on the other hand, is in charge of verbal, analytical and logical functions.

Some specific functions the left hemisphere controls include:

  • Logic and reasoning
  • Number skills
  • Analytic thought
  • Listening
  • Right-hand control
  • Sequential thinking

The left side is also considered the “language hub” of the brain. It is where the bulk of your language abilities lie, particularly your ability to produce and understand language.

Therefore, most people with left-side brain injuries have difficulty speaking, a condition known as aphasia.

Let’s take a closer look at aphasia, and other effects of left hemisphere damage,

Effects of Left-Side Brain Injury

Left hemisphere damage can cause a variety of problems, depending on the location of the injury.

Below are some of the major side effects of left side brain injury:

1. Aphasia

colorful watercolor painting of two figures talking. the colors in speech bubble are bleeding together, representing aphasia, a side effect of left-side brain injury

Aphasia is a language disorder that affects a person’s ability to produce and understand speech. It may also cause difficulties with reading and writing.

There are several types of aphasia that may develop after a left-side brain injury. The three most common are:

  • Global aphasia. This is the most severe form of aphasia. A person with global aphasia cannot speak, read, or write and may minimally understand others.
  • Broca’s aphasia Also known as “expressive” or “non-fluent” aphasia. With Broca’s aphasia, a person may understand what others say, but cannot produce their own words. This type is the most common after left-side brain injuries.
  • Wernicke’s aphasia. This form is the polar opposite of Broca’s aphasia. With Wernicke’s aphasia, a person can speak fluently, but cannot understand others.

The most effective way to treat aphasia is to work with a speech-language pathologist. These specialists may create an individual treatment plan that best fits your needs.

2. Apraxia of Speech

Not all language problems are caused by aphasia.

Sometimes after a left-side brain injury, the brain loses its’ connection to the facial muscles. This leads to a condition called apraxia of speech.

With apraxia of speech, your brain cannot coordinate the movements of all the different muscles in your mouth. This may make it difficult to form and pronounce words correctly.

3. Dysarthria (slurred speech) and dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)

woman drinking glass of water slowly

Two other speech disorders associated with left hemisphere brain damage are dysarthria and dysphagia.

Dysarthria refers to a weakness of the mouth and tongue, which causes a person to slur their speech. Dysphagia , on the other hand, causes weakness of the throat muscles used for swallowing.

The two disorders often appear together because speaking requires many of the same muscles used for swallowing.

Once again, Speech therapy exercises are the most effective ways to treat these problems and provide the best chance of recovery.

Make sure you practice your swallowing exercises under the close supervision of a speech therapist to prevent any risk of choking.

4. Right-Side Weakness (hemiparesis)

Because the left side of the brain controls movement on the right side of the body, left-side brain injuries can sometimes cause right side weakness (hemiparesis).

In severe cases, a person can experience full paralysis on their right side (hemiplegia).

These conditions occur because of damage to the primary motor cortex, which lies in the frontal lobe of the brain. If the left half of the motor cortex suffers damage, the right side of the body will be affected.

After damage to the left motor cortex, a person may struggle to:

  • Lift their right hand
  • Move the fingers on their right hand
  • Control right side of their face

To restore movement, you will need to practice physical therapy exercises that utilize your affected muscles.

5. Computation and Reasoning Problems

brain injury patient holding computer and looking confused

Finally, a left-side brain injury may cause difficulties with math and logic skills.

It may also affect abstract reasoning and organization skills. People with left hemisphere damage often struggle to keep their thoughts straight, which may make problem-solving more difficult.

Some other cognitive skills that left hemisphere injuries can affect include:

  • Concentration
  • Memory
  • Ability to gather and sort information
  • Prioritization
  • Strategy and planning

These skills  are comprised of a group of abilities known as executive functions. Speech therapists are exceptional at creating exercises to help you improve these functions.

Treatments for Left-Side Brain Injury

left side brain injury patient demonstrating a successful recovery

While the effects of left-side brain injuries can be serious, they may not be permanent. In fact, the brain possesses a remarkable healing ability known as neuroplasticity. This ability allows the brain to reorganize neurons and compensate for damaged areas.

This means the brain can actually change its structure so that different, undamaged portions take control of lost functions. Therefore, even if your brain’s left hemisphere was damaged, you may restore some of the abilities that you lost.

To activate neuroplasticity, you must engage in intensive, repetitious exercise. This applies even if you want to regain cognitive skills. Some of the most effective therapies that utilize neuroplasticity to overcome left-side brain injury include:

  • Speech therapy. Speech therapy is the most beneficial therapy for left-side brain injury. Not only can it help you overcome aphasia and apraxia, but therapists may also teach you how to improve your cognitive abilities.
  • Constraint-induced movement therapy. For patients with right hemiparesis, constraining their left arm will force them to use their neglected arm. This will activate neuroplasticity and allow them to regain function much sooner.
  • Cognitive therapy. Patients who struggle with logic and reasoning skills may benefit from cognitive therapy exercises. These exercises train the brain to process information in a more efficient manner. Usually, a speech-language pathologist incorporates cognitive therapy within the treatment sessions.

Once again, the key is to practice these therapies as frequently as possible. For recovery to be successful and ongoing, exercises need to become part of your daily routine.  Let your therapists guide you in the best practices on your road to recovery.

Shared Effects of Left Side Brain Injury and Right Side Brain Injury

While we’ve discussed how the left hemisphere controls certain functions, the brain itself works together as a whole.

This means the effects of left and right side brain injury are not always as clearly defined as this article may seem. Some individuals with left-side brain injury may even share a few of the symptoms of right hemisphere damage, and vice versa.

Therefore, if your symptoms do not line up perfectly with this list, that is no reason to worry.

We hope you now have a clearer picture of left hemisphere damage and the steps you need to take to enhance your recovery.

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Get Inspired with This TBI Recovery Story

Independance, motivation and hope!

“My son Sharat suffered a severe traumatic brain injury 23 years ago leaving him with Aphasia and right sided weakness from his vision,hearing to his limbs. The lockdown in June was a great challenge for him as his caregivers stopped coming, no gym workouts and no outings for a coffee.

Being his mother and primary carer I feared that this was a hotbed for depression. I scoured the net and chanced upon FlintRehab. As there was a trial period it was safe for us to risk getting it across to Auckland.

His OT checked it out and felt that it was ideal. I can honestly second this.

He enjoys working on it and now after three months can do it on his own. His left hand helps his right hand. The FitMi video explains and shows him what to do, it gives him marks and applauds him too!!

He has to use both sides of his brain. The caregivers are OT students who returned enjoy working on it with him.

In three months there motivation built up in him with a drive to use his right hand. There is definitely a slight improvement in his right hand.

This encourages him as well as the caregivers to try harder.His overall mood is upbeat. He enjoys it, so much so, that it doesn’t matter if his caregiver is away.

FitMi is a blessing.”

Sharat’s review of FitMi home therapy, 10/10/2020

5 stars

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