Frontal brain injury in court


Some of the highest awards...

Some of the highest awards in the civil courts are due to the long term effects of frontal brain injury on personality, cognition and behaviour. Frontal brain injury often leads to changes in a person's higher cognitive abilities for example the ability to reason, to problem solve and to control behaviour. These higher cognitive abilities are referred to by psychologists as the 'executive functions'. 


Impairments in executive functions also contribute significantly to criminal behaviour via impulsive offending, lack of empathy for victims and impaired judgement. Despite its importance the assessment of frontal brain dysfunction and its presentation in court is fraught with difficulties. Problems include disorders that mimic frontal brain injury, unreliable testing procedures and confusion between normal and abnormal personality development.



Medico-legal reports...


I have many years experience providing reports for the courts in personal injury cases following frontal brain injury. I also conduct assessments in criminal cases where neuro-cognitive functioning is an issue. In both areas it is helpful to include other types of evidence in addition to a person's performance on neuro-cognitive tests. This is because neuro-cognitive tests fail to capture executive function impairments in a significant number of individuals.





With colleagues, I have published on good practice in frontal brain injury assessment for the courts. These articles suggest other lines of evidence that it can be helpful to consider in addition to neuro-cognitive tests when assessing frontal brain injury. They also discuss the long term implications impaired executive functions can have on ongoing care and support recommendations made to the court.


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