Quick Facts

  • Reasoning and problem solving are executive functions
  • These require an individual to analyze a task or problem and find possible solutions
  • Following a brain injury, individuals may become more rigid and concrete in their thinking

What does it
look like?

  • Difficulty recognizing when there is a problem
  • Have difficulty making decisions and becoming stuck on one solution rather than looking at other options
  • Making quick decisions without thinking about the consequences
  • Difficulty understanding abstract levels of meaning (e.g., figures of speech and metaphors)
  • Difficulty considering hypothetical explanations and problem solving (e.g., cannot connect different, but similar types of information or recognize patterns of information)
  • Inability to appreciate cause-and-effect relationships

Possible Causes and Complications

Possible causes:

  •  Damage to the areas of the front part of the brain that manage thinking skills

Possible complications:

  • Difficulty with social interactions and understanding social rules, personal safety rules, etc.
  • Challenges understanding and having awareness as to the impact of their injury
  • Difficulty managing grief and loss

What can we do?

Problem Solving Assistance:

  • Make instructions for problems clear and concise
  • Support the individual to work through problems by using a problem solving organizer
    • Define the problem
    • Brainstorm solutions
    • List pros and cons
    • Pick a solution to try
    • Evaluate the solution
    • Try another solution if necessary


Reasoning Assistance:

  • Avoid abstractions “Oh, I love your wallpaper. It’s like being in a beautiful garden”
  • Encourage the development of visualization when reading
  • Read a story aloud and discuss the story
  • Play word association games

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to replace advice from a medical doctor. Consult a health care provider regarding specific medical concerns or treatment.