The frontal lobe is the anterior (front) part of the brain that is located right behind the forehead inside the skull. There are two frontal lobes: one on the right side of the brain and one on the left side. The frontal lobe plays an important role in brain functions, such as voluntary (under conscious control) movements, memory, problem-solving, speech, and performing everyday tasks, which involve multiple steps. Frontal lobe damage results in drastic behavioral and personality changes as well. Damage to the frontal lobes can affect one or several of their functions and may be permanent or transient, depending on the cause. Any injury, stroke, infection, tumor, or neurodegenerative disease that affects the brain can affect the frontal lobe too, damaging it. Treatment varies depending on the cause of the damage and involves a team of various healthcare professionals.
What are the functions of the frontal lobe?
The frontal lobe is responsible for the following functions:
- Voluntary movements of the body
- Complex sequence or multistep movements, such as wearing clothes or making toast
- Speech and language
- Reasoning skills
- Inhibitions and judgments
- Planning and problem solving
- Regulation of mood and emotions
- Expression of emotions and personality
- Management of social behavior
What happens when the frontal lobe is damaged?
When the frontal lobe is damaged, the first few signs seen are drastic changes in the person’s personality and behavior.
Some common symptoms of frontal lobe damage can include:
- Paralysis (partial or complete loss of movement)
- Difficulty in performing tasks that require several steps or sequence of movements such as dressing up or making coffee
- Speech and language difficulty
- Inability to concentrate
- Poor planning and problem-solving skills
- Poor judgment
- Loss of inhibition or impulse control
- Inability to control mood and emotions
- Changes in personality and behavior
- Inappropriate social behavior
- Decreased motivation
- Inability to function normally in school or at work
What can cause damage to the frontal lobe?
There are several factors that can cause damage to the frontal lobe:
How is frontal lobe damage treated?
Treatment of frontal lobe damage varies based on the cause. Some factors may cause permanent frontal lobe damage, and the treatment mainly involves rehabilitation therapies to learn new coping mechanisms. The treatment plan usually includes a team of several different healthcare professionals. Treatment options include:
- Physical therapy: To maintain or regain mobility, muscle strength, and flexibility
- Occupational therapy: To learn new skills and perform daily tasks and activities more easily
- Vocational counseling: To help return to work or studies
- Speech-language therapy: To improve communication
- Cognitive therapy: To learn skills to help improve memory, planning, and judgment
- Psychological therapy: To help improve relationships and manage emotions and mood swings
- Surgery: Surgery may be advised in cases of a trauma or brain tumor involving the frontal lobe
- Medications: Medications may be prescribed in case of infections or neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s
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