Acquired Brain Injury

 
Acquired Brain Injury
 

Acquired brain injury, or ABI, is often called the “hidden disability” because it affects intangible processes like thinking and behavior. Its long-term complications aren’t as easy to recognize as other physical disabilities.

As a consequence, the difficulties people with brain injuries face are easily ignored, overlooked or misunderstood. Most communities have very little knowledge of ABI, and even those closest to an affected person may simply think he or she is difficult or lazy.

ABI is used to describe all types of brain injury that occur after birth, not to be confused with intellectual disability. People with an ABI don’t necessarily experience a decline in their overall intelligence. Rather, they’re more likely to experience specific cognitive changes that lead to difficulty in areas like memory, concentration, and communication.

ABI is not a mental illness. Though sufferers of both ABI and mental illness exhibit abnormal brain function, mental illness is not caused by an observable abnormality in the functioning of the brain. Brain injury, on the other hand, is a physical condition that causes a change in function.

Causes

ABI has several primary causes, such as physical trauma, stroke or brain bleed, drug or alcohol abuse, poisoning, a tumor, suffocation, or a number of diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or Multiple Sclerosis. Primary causes can lead to many secondary complications, such as bleeding, blood clots, increased intracranial pressure, oxygen starvation, swelling, and epilepsy.

Effects

 Long-term effects of ABI vary from person to person, but people with ABI may experience medical difficulties, impaired physical and sensory abilities, and changes in cognition, behavior, personality and communication. Some of the common effects sufferers experience are:

- Memory loss

- Fatigue

- Poor concentration

- Inability to solve problems and pay attention

- Lack of initiative, decreased motivation

- Irritability, depression, and uncontrollable emotions, anger and susceptibility to stress

- Inappropriate behavior and poor social skills

- Self-centeredness, dependency, and lack of insight

- Slowed responses

- Impulsivity
 

Some of the more common physical effects may be:

- Loss of taste and smell

- Dizziness and balance issues

- Epilepsy and seizures 

- Fatigue

- Headaches

- Changes in eyesight

- Chronic pain

- Paralysis or movement disorders, particularly unilateral (affecting only one side of the body)

© 2015 BIC