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One of the difficult characteristics of people who suffer head injury, is that even when they recover from their initial injury, they are often left with symptoms which affect their ability to live normally. Whilst they may appear like they were before the head injury, especially to those who don’t know them well, they often have to deal with hidden symptoms.
These symptoms are very variable and have differing levels of impact on a person’s day-to-day life and their family. One such symptom is agnosia or so-called object blindness. This can be the specific inability to recognise the faces, even of loved ones, which doctors call prosopagnosia. Or it can be a more general inability to recognise every day objects just from looking at them.
Scientists still do not fully understand how the brain processes visual information or therefore the precise cause of face blindness or object blindness, however recent studies are helping to shed light on these conditions.
We do know that an important part for the brain for processing visual information from our eyes to identify visual objects is the lateral occipital cortex. So if this area is damaged by traumatic brain injury from say falling over or an acquired brain injury such as following stroke, problems with visual recognition of objects could well be expected.
Even if only one side of the brain is injured, this still can cause object blindness. Current thinking on the brain’s plasticity (its ability for different parts to adopt new functions to compensate for injured areas) means you may expect the uninjured side to make up for the injured lateral occipital cortex. However a recent study in fact showed that the uninjured lateral occipital cortex appeared to be inhibited by the injured side. This suggests that these two areas of the brain at least are dependant on each other for someone to be able to recognise objects.
At Head Injury UK our specialist head injury solicitors understand the various difficulties experienced by head injury victims and their families. We hope that the ongoing research into head injuries will lead to improved rehabilitation and support for head injury patients. If you or a loved one has been affected by head injury caused by someone else, please contact Ian Shovlin or call on 0800 073 0988.
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