Impaired facial affect recognition appears to be a significant problem for survivors of traumatic brain injury. These difficulties can be partially attributed to problems with emotion perception. Mounting scientific evidence shows facial affect recognition to be particularly difficult after TBI. Facial affect recognition is achieved by interpreting important facial features and processing one’s own emotions. These skills are often affected by TBI, depending on the areas of the brain that are damaged. Impaired facial affect recognition can present a huge challenge for many people after traumatic brain injury (TBI), resulting in problems with communication and social relationships.
A study published in Neuropsychology has attempted to estimate the magnitude and frequency of this problem. Scientists conducted a meta-analysis of existing scientific evidence examining the magnitude and frequency of facial recognition difficulties after TBI. This was calculated from 13 studies (296 adults) comparing adults with moderate to severe TBI to healthy controls on static measures of facial affect recognition. Based on this data, they were able to estimate that 13-39% of people with moderate to severe TBI may have significant difficulties with facial affect recognition.
This area clearly needs more attention, particularly in examining possible rehabilitation techniques for this deficit. Impaired facial affect recognition is one of many problems faced by survivors of TBI. It is important that survivors, their families and friends are educated about this and other impairments.
“Meta-analysis of facial affect recognition difficulties after traumatic brain injury”
in Neuropsychology (2011) . By DR Babbage, J Yim, B Zupan, D Neumann, MR Tomita and B Willer.