Acquired Brain Injury
An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is an injury caused to the brain since birth causing tissue damage which can impair physical, mental and emotional abilities. There are many possible causes, including a fall, a road accident, tumour and stroke. Over the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people suffering from head injuries, primarily due to medical advances and improved emergency services. In NI an estimated 2000 people people present with head injuries every year.
- Your brain weighs about 3lbs, or just under 1.5Kg
- It has the texture of blancmange
- Your brain is connected to your spinal cord by the brain stem
- Behind your brain stem is the cerebellum
- The cerebral cortex is the largest part of your brain. It contains the frontal lobes, the motor cortex, sensory cortex and parietal lobes
- The brain is made up of around 100 billion nerve cells and even more support cells, which provide nourishment to the nerve cells.
- The left side of the brain controls the right side of your body, while the right side of the brain controls the left side of your body.
- Your brain stops growing at 18 years old.
- An elephant’s brain is 6 times the size of a human brain however in relation to body size, humans have the largest brain of all animals averaging 2% of our body weight.
- More electrical impulses are generated in one day by a single human brain than by all the telephones in the world.
- It’s estimated that the human brain produces 70,000 thoughts on an average day.
- A human brain is about 75% water.
- Every minute 750ml of blood pumps through your brain.
Types of Injury
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain caused by a trauma to the head. Primary causes are road traffic accidents, assaults, falls and accidents at home or at work.
TBI is caused at least initially by outside force, but includes the complications which can follow, such as damage caused by lack of oxygen, rising pressure and swelling in the brain. Common areas of difficulty after TBI include memory, self awareness, organisation, attention and concentration.
Stroke refers to the sudden appearance of neurological symptoms as a result of severe interruption of blood flow. Primary causes are hear failure, blood clots or other blood vessel damage.
Hypoxia/Anoxia is caused by lack of oxygen to the brain as a result of choking, drowning or major blood loss.
Infection from bacteria or viruses such as herpes, tuberculosis, or amoeba infection can damage different parts of the brain but similar to other injuries can cause problems with memory, behaviour and self awareness.
Coma, loss of power in the arms and legs, and speech impairment are the most visible signs of brain injury. However, traumatic brain injury causes numerous 'hidden disabilities' including changes to personality, thinking and memory.
To download factsheets covering many of the symptoms and practical issues associated with brain injury please visit the Headway UK website www.headway.org.uk