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Organic Brain Dysfunction

Osterhout Berger Disability Law > Disabling Conditions > Organic Brain Dysfunction

There are many reasons that people need Social Security benefits for certain diseases and conditions. People who have organic brain dysfunction have several reasons why they might need disability benefits because the condition can be debilitating. People who are thinking about applying for Social Security disability benefits probably want to know about the process, what they’ll need to gather, and how to maximize the likelihood that they’ll receive the benefits that they need. People who suspect that they might have organic brain dysfunction might also want to know about the symptoms and who is usually affected by the condition. People who think that they might qualify for disability benefits should take a look at this information to make informed decisions.

What is Organic Brain Dysfunction?

In recent years, organic brain dysfunction has gone by a few different names, including organic brain syndrome and neurocognitive disorders, the latter of which is currently the preferred term. Neurocognitive disorder is an umbrella term for many disorders that could cause memory problems but aren’t psychiatric disorders. Some of the disorders that are under the umbrella term of neurocognitive disorders include Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, and other degenerative disorders.

Other common causes of organic brain dysfunction include exposure to toxic materials, hormonal or chemical abnormalities, physical trauma, metabolic disorders, concussions, brain clots, strokes, heart infections, low oxygen in the blood, and many other factors.

Some forms of organic brain dysfunction might be temporary, but other kinds might get progressively worse. Usually, degenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, will get worse, but if a person has organic brain dysfunction because of head trauma or a bacterial infection, there’s a much greater chance that the brain will heal.

Whenever a person or their loved one begins to notice that they’re having memory problems, it’s always best to see a doctor as soon as possible so that any controllable factors, such as an illness, can be mitigated as soon as possible. With some types of causes of neurocognitive disorder, such as cases where degenerative disorders are involved, the likelihood that the person will make a recovery is small to nonexistent. On the other hand, where some kind of outside factor like trauma is involved, there’s significant hope that the person will recover.

There are several risk factors to developing organic brain dysfunction, including being over the age of 60, playing sports where physical trauma could occur, alcohol or drug abuse, cardiovascular disorders, and diabetes.

Symptoms of Organic Brain Dysfunction

The exact symptoms can vary slightly according to the cause of the organic brain dysfunction, but there are a few types of symptoms that are common regardless of the reason that a person has organic brain dysfunction.

Problems with memory is very common. With many degenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, the problems with memory might primarily focus with making new memories. Consequently, a person might remember who their spouse and children are, but they might not be able to remember new names and faces or be able to recall what they said just a moment or two earlier.

Changes in behavior and difficulties performing daily activities are also common among people who have organic brain dysfunction. Some people might also experience difficulties with understanding and making new language.

Along with the short-term memory loss that a lot of people will experience when they have an organic brain dysfunction, they might also experience confusion and anxiety. Many times, people experience anxiety because their confusion is distressing. Beyond this, in some cases, a person might have difficulties with social cognition, executive function skills, and general learning.

Many people who are experiencing a neurocognitive disorder because of traumatic injury will also have headaches. Some people might also experience difficulties with balance and walking, an inability to do regular tasks that they’ve always done, and they can even experience changes in vision.

Treatment for Organic Brain Dysfunction

The treatment for organic brain dysfunction can vary depending on what the cause of the neurocognitive disorder is, and doctors can usually determine the cause by looking at the symptoms and the events surrounding the mental decline. If the organic brain dysfunction was caused by an injury, bed rest might be prescribed to let the body and brain heal. Pain medication might also be prescribed to alleviate headaches.

For many causes of brain dysfunction, the person might also get occupational therapy to restore cognitive functions and relearn skills that were lost due to the infection, injury, or other kind of trauma. In some cases, brain surgery might be necessary to restore cognitive functioning. Occupational therapy is often especially important for people who are younger and still within working age, so it’s a more common treatment for people who have meningitis or trauma.

People who have organic brain dysfunction because of an infection like meningitis might also receive antibiotics to clear up any of the infection that remains. For people who have also suffered a loss of the ability to do certain physical activities, they might also go to physical therapy to restore the ability to walk and do everyday activities. The physical therapy will also help with their strength, coordination, flexibility, and balance.

People with Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders that are associated with the elderly will also receive treatment that’s designed to keep them engaged and active according to their abilities. For instance, painting and other forms of art are often used to help patients express their feelings.

Disability Benefits for Organic Brain Dysfunction

Organic brain dysfunction that’s caused by any underlying reasons can have a serious impact on a person’s ability to work. The date that the person was diagnosed is required, and tests can be used to determine how much of an impact the brain dysfunction has made on a person’s cognitive abilities, such as memory. For instance, the person applying might be given an IQ test to measure their current ability to reason. These tests might also be compared to certain IQ tests taken before the person fell ill, was injured, or was diagnosed with neurocognitive disorder. The IQ test given at the time of diagnosis or shortly after will be able to identify any cognitive limitations.

In addition to measuring a person’s current cognitive limitations and the difference between their current cognitive abilities in comparison to their previous cognitive abilities, there might be certain requirements that must be fulfilled to meet the criteria for a specific disorder. For instance, there’s a separate listing for early onset Alzheimer’s disease, which must be fulfilled to receive benefits.

Anyone who is thinking about applying for themselves, a loved one, or a person that they’ve been legally given charge of will need to create a detailed list of medical records.

If the applicant doesn’t meet the criteria of a covered Social Security Blue Book condition, it’s also possible to apply for a residual functional capacity test, which will look at how much a person is able to do and what kinds of jobs they’ve done in the past to determine whether or not there’s work available to them.

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