What is an acquired brain injury?
An introduction to brain injury and rehabilitation
What is an Acquired Brain Injury?
An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is an injury caused to the brain since birth. There are many possible causes including head injuries which may be from a road accident, a fall or an assault and these are known as traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Other causes may be due to a stroke, tumour, illness or lack of oxygen to the brain.
In the UK, over 1 million people live with the effects of an acquired brain injury and each year almost 350,000 people are admitted to hospital with a brain injury.
Different types of brain injury affect different parts of the brain and therefore require different types of treatment. The effects of a brain injury are described as one of three types:
1. Cognitive effects – how a person thinks, learns and remembers
2. Communication – this is a complex function requiring many different parts of the brain
3. Emotional and behavioural effects
For example, if the frontal lobe of the brain is damaged, which may be the case following a road traffic accident (RTA) then this affects the executive functions of the brain causing Executive Dysfunction.
This will affect the individual's ability in the following areas:
- Planning and organisation
- Making decisions
- Flexible thinking
- Social behaviour
- Controlling emotions
- Solving unusual problems
Rehabilitation for people with Acquired Brain Injury
Due to their nature, acquired brain injuries are very complex and affect both the mental and physical abilities of the individual. Our experience supports research studies showing that rehabilitation for someone with an acquired brain injury is most effective when delivered by a co-ordinated multi-disciplinary team (MDT) of people from a range of different fields.
At the Richardson Partnership for Care, our multi-disciplinary team supports the service users’ remaining functional ability to enhance the skills they have, and increase the skills that have been severely affected by the brain injury. We focus on what they can do (not on what they can’t) and aim to develop their abilities by setting steady goals for each service user.
Each service user receives a full assessment initially and then formal reviews at six-month intervals, as well as ongoing standard assessments, to see how the therapeutic input is working.