• Saundra Smyrski

Executive Function Impairment




The most complex cognitive processes are those that involve:

  • reasoning

  • planning

  • judgement

  • initiation and

  • abstract thinking (BIAA, 2021).

Collectively, these processes make up what is known as executive functioning. Persons with brain injury often have an impairment with executive functioning processes. Difficulties may arise as problems with areas such as:

  • abstract thought

  • analyzing all aspects of a situation

  • considering all potential solutions to a problem

  • executing those solutions

  • maintaining cognitive flexibility if one solution does not work and

  • self monitoring.

Other behaviors often seen in persons with brain injury include:

  • impulsivity

  • disinhibition

  • hyperverbosity (hyper + verbal) and

  • poor self control of their emotions.

Executive functioning deficits can occur whether brain injury is deemed mild, moderate, or severe and may significantly impact all aspects of life.


Cognitive rehabilitation is designed to improve cognitive functioning for patients who have sustained a brain injury or who are otherwise cognitively impaired. Persons with brain injury can be taught to:

  • approach situations in a rational and systematic manner

  • analyze problems

  • consider alternative solutions

  • to prioritize and execute a solution and

  • to review the outcome of their approach to the situation (BIAA, 2021).





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