The frontal lobe is made up of the precentral cortex, prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex and the superior mesial and inferior mesial regions. Each area has a particular function. But the frontal lobe, in general, is the brain’s emotional center and is responsible for higher functioning. Although this is true, no part of the brain works in isolation.
Frontal lobe injuries can affect motor functions, problem solving, memory, social and sexual behavior. It can also affect language skills, impulse control and make changes to the personality. The damage incurred affects feelings of empathy, sympathy, humor and whether appropriate judgments are made.
Functions of the frontal lobe areas involves the ability to recognize future consequences resulting from current actions, an ability to choose between good and bad actions and to recognize the similarity or differences between things.
The frontal lobe assists in retaining long term memories. When this area has been injured, mental flexibility will be impaired. Talking may increase or decrease dramatically. Also, there may be impaired perceptions, possible loss of taste or smell, potential attention difficulties which will make a person easily distracted. Thinking may be inflexible showing perseveration which is an inability to switch from one line of thinking to another. Those with frontal lobe injuries may also lack motivation, the ability to plan and organize and may have difficulty making decisions. Abstract and complex thinking may also be problematic.
Damages such as these often make holding a job more difficult because of the inability to perform work consistently and because problem solving and motor skills have usually been affected.
The hope of successfully returning to work is through rehabilitation. The multidisciplinary approach to rehabilitation is mostly favored which includes specialists from neurology, psychology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and cognitive therapy. Other rehabilitation is developing strategies to overcome deficits. It is important that rehabilitation encourage, motivate and empower.
Rehabilitation involves working on functions that can be restored and learning how to do things differently. Neuro-functional strengths and weaknesses are considered. After strengths are developed, more complex skills can be added. The large brain skills must be retrained or developed before the small skills can be developed. And this must happen before intellectual activity can be worked on and be successful.
When there has been an injury to the frontal lobes, rehabilitation is important and the goal is to help individuals progress to the most independent level of functioning possible.