About Brain Injury

Acquired brain injury (ABI) refers to any form of brain injury which has occurred since birth. This includes traumatic brain injury – which is most commonly caused by road traffic accidents, falls and assaults – and also brain injury caused by stroke, tumour, haemorrhage or infection.

ABI is often called the “hidden disability”, as the effects, which might be longterm or permanent, may not always be readily apparent. The after-effects of ABI depend on various factors, including the type, location and severity of the injury. While there are effects with which many acquired brain injury survivors will be familiar, each person’s circumstances are unique.

The early stages of rehabilitation tend to be physically orientated, for example dealing with physical independence and walking. That is usually followed by a functional focus, on regaining practical skills such as walking, dressing and eating. Latterly, rehabilitation will have a cognitive emphasis. This depends on which areas of the brain have been damaged, but will normally involve the executive skills.

The main longterm consequences of ABI are in 3 categories – physical, emotional and cognitive. Effects of ABI can include the following, however this list is not exhaustive:

Physical and sensory problems

  • Persistent headaches
  • Dizziness and loss of balance
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Visual disturbances
  • Being easily upset by loud noise

Sleep disturbances

  • Altered sleep patterns
  • Fatigue

Behavioural and mood changes

  • Being irritable or easily angered
  • Restlessness
  • Feeling frustrated or impatient
  • Feeling depressed, tearful or anxious
  • Impulsiveness
  • Lack of self-control

Cognitive issues

  • Problems with concentration
  • Memory impairments, particularly short-term memory
  • Language and communication difficulties
  • Impaired executive skills
  • Difficulties with problem-solving
  • Taking longer to think.

For more information please visit: www.headway.org.uk/about-brain-injury