An acquired brain injury (ABI) can be defined as any single incident resulting in damage to the brain after birth. This can arise from a variety of causes such as road traffic accidents, assaults, falls, a viruses, brain haemorrhages, strokes or self harm.
Brain injuries are more common that most people realise and indeed, many can remain undiagnosed for years, only coming to light when certain cognitive or behavioural difficulties indicate a possible trauma in the individual’s medical history.
The types of disability that can arise from an ABI are varied and include:
- physical disability – including one sided weakness and loss of balance
- loss of short term memory
- loss of the ability to read and write
- loss of the ability to do everyday activities
- loss of the ability to understand what is being said
- loss of the ability to express yourself
- loss of stamina resulting in excessive fatigue
- extreme mood swings
- lack of self control
- loss of social skills
The psychological impact of a brain injury may in some instances be more distressing than any physical disability and can result in frustration and lack of confidence. Some individuals with an ‘invisible’ injury have often wished that they had some physical damage so that society could recognise a disability rather than treating them as though they were stupid or slow.
Whatever the level of damage, the injured individual does not suffer alone – family members share the pain and heartache. Indeed, their suffering may be greater as they will have a full awareness of how their loved one has changed as a result of the injury – something many of the injured individuals may not themselves recognise.