– Perception

Some ABI survivors may not be able to judge the distance between themselves and objects.

Perception involves interpreting information that we receive from our senses and this ability can be damaged following a brain injury. For example, some people with senses that have been damaged may not be able to recognise the smell or taste of food, or appreciate the difference between hot and cold.

Problems with visual perception are the most common, whereby the injured person may not be able to recognise visual material such as shapes, objects or familiar faces. This may be complicated by problems with vision, including double vision, restricted field of view or problems co-ordinating the muscles that control eye movements. If visual perceptual problems are present, it is recommended to seek treatment.

Some individuals may not be able to judge the distance between themselves and objects. This can lead to all kinds of problems in daily life, such as trying to put a mug on the table and missing it, or banging into pieces of furniture, not being able to judge when it is safe to cross the road, or confusion with left and right.

Occasionally, people have what is called unilateral neglect. This means that they ignore or neglect one side of their body – they are simply not aware it is there. This can result in accidents such as banging into doorways or not shaving one side of the face properly.

A related difficulty is being unable to see things on one side. This is not because of poor eyesight. The problem lies with the part of the brain that makes sense of what is in the field of vision. There may also be difficulty with constructional skills so the injured person is unable to work out how to put things together from the object’s component parts, e.g. jigsaws, etc.