Columbia, S.C-The science behind Eichorn's brain damage - DatelineCarolina

How did brain damage affect Eichorn's recovery?

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By Amy Smith
Edited by Tas Anjarwalla

When Jimmy Eichorn fell from his fraternity house window, the front of his brain's right frontal lobe was traumatically damaged, among other injuries. The frontal lobe, located behind the forehead, controls "planning, reasoning, movement and some aspects of speech," according to the Public Broadcasting Service's "The Secret Life of the Brain."

According to Centre for Neuro Skills, based in Bakersfield, Calif., problems associated with damage to this part of the brain are:

-Loss of simple movement of various body parts.

-Inability to plan a sequence of complex movements needed to complete multi-stepped tasks, such as making coffee.

-Loss of spontaneity in interacting with others.

-Loss of flexibility in thinking.

-Persistence of a single thought.

-Inability to focus on a task.

-Mood changes.

-Changes in social behavior.

-Changes in personality.

-Difficulty with problem solving.

-Inability to express language.

Eichorn's mother, Geralyn Eichorn, has especially noticed that he now "gets very obsessed about certain things."

"It's called impulsivity. They get focused on one thing, and they have to get it done," she says.

Impulsivity is a result of a patient's "diminished reasoning and lack of inhibition," according to the Centre for Neuro Skills.

Brain injury rehabilitation includes restoring abilities or learning how to cope when they can't be restored, according to the Brain Injury Resource Center, in Seattle.

Immediately following an injury, cognitive and communication problems are assessed by a neurologist, speech-language pathologist and neuropsychologist and by an occupational therapist.

Then, individualized rehabilitation begins. According to the Brain Injury Resource Center, this may include developing attention skills and oral-motor exercises. Eichorn's injury called for intense inpatient occupational and speech therapy, his mom says.

When patients are determined ready, they enter outpatient rehabilitation. Like Eichorn, they may attend individual or group therapy based on their needs.

The overall goal of brain injury rehabilitation is to help patients become as independent as possible. Therapy focuses on relearning skills as well as learning to cope with lost abilities, such as Eichorn's blindness in his right eye.

READ about Jimmy Eichorn's fall here.

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