Have you ever heard someone talk about being “left-brained” or “right-brained”? People who consider themselves to be “right-brained” are often thought to be artistic, creative, and intuitive. “Left-brained” individuals, on the other hand, may be more logical, analytical, and detail-oriented.
While it may not be entirely accurate to view personality in this way, it makes sense that people think of the brain as being separated into two parts. The brain is divided into the right side (or hemisphere) and the left side. These hemispheres are connected in the middle by a bundle of nerve fibers known as the corpus callosum. Because of this, the two sides of the brain work together in some ways. However, they control different functions and abilities that we use in our day-to-day lives. That is why people who have damage to the left side of their brain often experience different challenges compared to those who have right hemisphere brain damage.
Some people call the left hemisphere the “language hub” of the brain. It is not hard to see where this name came from, because this part of the brain plays a significant role in our ability to use and understand language, including reading and writing. We also rely on the left hemisphere to help us speak, solve problems, make computations, and move the right side of our body, since each hemisphere of the brain controls movement on the opposite side of the body.
People who have been impacted by left hemisphere brain damage often experience communication, cognition, and movement-related problems.
Left hemisphere brain damage can lead to:
If you have damage to this part of your brain, you may find it hard to retrieve the words you want and to then put those words together following grammatical rules when you are talking to someone. Additionally, it may be hard to understand what others are saying to you. These difficulties are characteristic of aphasia. You may have trouble coordinating the movements of your mouth to say words (apraxia), experience weakness in the muscles you need for speech (dysarthria), or have trouble moving the right side of your body altogether. It can also be more difficult to reason through problems, remember things you hear, and put ideas in order. Any of these impairments can create challenges that impact quality of life.
Individuals with brain damage have been shown to benefit from rehabilitation, including (but not limited to) speech-language therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Clinicians can employ evidence-based therapeutic methods to improve and support speech, language, cognitive, and physical abilities that may have been impacted post-injury. These therapies can enable patients to live more functionally and independently within their communities.
The other great news is that the brain has amazing abilities to heal and compensate for damage. Neuroimaging studies have proven that our brains are “plastic”, meaning that they can change the way they work. We’ve seen evidence of different parts of the brain taking over for damaged parts – even areas of the brain in the opposite hemisphere! Check out our blog post on the 10 principles of neuroplasticity to learn more.
There are many ways that caregivers can support a loved one as they navigate these newfound challenges. While the areas in which someone may need help will vary, here are a few suggestions:
Marissa is a practicing speech-language pathologist clinical fellow serving English and Spanish-speaking patients at Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital. She is also a Clinical and Scientific Consultant for Constant Therapy Health, where she is involved in content development, advisement on product features, and other app-related clinical support.
Brain Injury Association of America. (2020, March 18). Functions of the Brain. Retrieved from https://www.biausa.org/brain-injury/about-brain-injury/basics/function-of-the-brain
Cleveland Clinic. How to Better Communicate with Stroke Patients. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10408-right–and-left-brain-strokes-tips-for-the-caregiver
Josse, G., & Tzourio-Mazoyer, N. (2004). Hemispheric specialization for language. Brain Research Reviews, 44(1), 1-12.
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Good information. How do I increase therapy to improve speech?
Great question! There are many components to improving your speech, and the best way to understanding exactly where your strengths and weaknesses lie is to get a full evaluation by a Speech-Language Pathologist. Additionally, the Constant Therapy app can help to drill down on exactly what you need to work on to improve your speech by looking at your performance within the app – our app adjusts based on your accuracy and speed to give you harder or easier tasks.
I am 83 years old had severe head trauma at the ages of 3 and 40 and a milder on at age 12. I have been tested for oxygen flow to my brain recently which shows deminished O2 flow to the left side of my brain. Word finding in regular conversation and organization has gotten worse. Are there other therapies I should try other than the an anti aging program and nutritional program that I am on?
Thanks you, Carolyn
We suggest that you talk to your healthcare provider – they are the ones who know your specific situation best. You can try the Constant Therapy app for free for 14 days: https://app.constanttherapy.com/signup/ We have exercises that work on word retrieval, naming, speaking– just to name a few.
Thank you for your help! I appreciate your articles, and I will work more time on my iPad, and I hope I get a new iPad, with my old iPad
I would like to thank you for the informative emails that always give me details about my injury. The last email that I received has let me know that I am working in the right direction. I hope that my brain health will be much more improved next year.
I hope that you all have a nice day and stay safe.
Morgan. (In Ireland)
As the wife of a stroke victim I’ve found your article very interesting and helpful. Thank you.
as I youngman of a left brain damage thankyou.
We’re glad this article felt helpful to you. We wish you well in your recovery.
Thank you for any help – What I would like to know more about is where is all the evidence and the ways we can implement the knowledge every Neuro Scientist boasts of—-AKA BRAIN PLASTICITY and all the reports of how new connections can be made in the brain.
So much reporting of studies and findings but no real implementation of this….We need ways to heal and regrow pathways in the brain.
Any thoughts? I look every month for new therapies. CT is something to do and is a form of entertainment while it hit a wall of what is possible- it certainly is not life changing.
Jean- Good for you for following all the info on neuroplasticity. We hear from patients that Constant Therapy has been life-changing for them because it helped them recover and regain skills. Here’s a graphic that you may find helpful: https://constanttherapyhealth.com/brainwire/10-principles-of-neuroplasticity-how-to-harness-the-ability-of-the-brain-to-heal-itself-after-injury-infographic/
I had an auto accident in 1998. I lost most of my hearing, balance and I couldn’t see mirror images. I’m on my 3rd set of hearing aids. I still do all of my exercises (neuro-vestibula type) 3 times a day. As I got older I started doing weight lifting since I still fall occasionally. My recent brain scan showed no damage. I figured they got it mixed up. My neurologist said my damage is molecular now. I don’t know what that means. How can I get rid of molecular damage? I’m willing to try anything.
Definitely reach out to your neurologist and/or your primary care physician for more information! They will be able to tell you more about your specific situation and how to best treat it!
Thank you for having this article up. I suffered a TBI IN 2018.since then I have recovered enough to use my left hand to type. I am left handed.. I try to move my right hand and continue to try and get it to move…on it’s own. I’m open for any suggestions one has for me to get this arm to move on it’s own.
Thanks for your comment, Jonathan. We suggest that you talk to your provider and ask for suggestions. We wish you all the best.
My bro has met with a major accident and has undergone brain surgery 20 days back.He us still unconscious and on intermittent ventilation and tracheostomy. Doctors say that his left part of brain has damaged a lot and his recovery to a normal human will only be a miracle. His right side too is effected. Also a big financial issue. Please help and let me know if this can be cured. I am from India.please help me .My bro is just 38 years old
We are so sorry to hear that this happened to your brother, and we wish him a swift recovery. His healthcare providers will have the most accurate knowledge on his recovery process and current status. However, here are some articles about neuroplasticity that could give insight into how the brain recovers from traumatic injuries. Wishing you and your brother all the best! https://constanttherapyhealth.com/brainwire/10-principles-of-neuroplasticity-how-to-harness-the-ability-of-the-brain-to-heal-itself-after-injury-infographic/
I was injured in a car wreck when I was 5 yrs old. I am in my 60’s now. I had open skull fracture and damage to my left prefrontal cortex. Since then, I have had troubles in planning, & in seeing the possible consequences of my decision making before I make a particular decision. It’s subtle, but it’s had a profound impact on my life in “the real world”.
Thank you for sharing this Janet. This is definitely a shared experience, and it is never too late to improve your planning and decision making skills. We are rooting for you!