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.
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