What is Brain Injury?

An acquired brain injury (ABI) is defined as any injury or damage to the brain that occurs after a period of normal development (in other words not prior to or at the moment of birth).

The main causes of an injury to the brain are trauma (e.g. from a car accident, fall or assault), vascular (e.g. different types of stroke such as blockages or bleeds), infections (e.g. encephalitis, meningitis), brain tumours or lack of oxygen to the brain (anoxic damage e.g. due to prolonged heart failure, partial drowning, strangulation). These different kinds of injury can affect the brain in different ways, and some are more common in certain age groups, for example falls in younger children and older people.

An ABI usually requires different kinds of treatment or rehabilitation over time. At the time of the injury medical treatment is required immediately to save lives and minimise possible future difficulties.

The pattern of injury can vary greatly, so at any point after an ABI it is important for biological, psychological and social factors to be understood and addressed in order to maximise the chances of a good outcome. Children need particular support as the developing brain is more vulnerable and new problems can emerge at any point throughout the child’s development.

An ABI can have a devastating effect not only on the individual but also family members and friends, so attention to their needs is also important.