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What is an acquired brain injury?

An acquired brain injury (ABI) is sometimes referred to as a ‘hidden disability’ but it affects over 700 000 people in Australia. While the behavioural and cognitive impacts aren’t always easy to see, most people living with an acquired brain injury require some form of support. Read on to learn more about acquired brain injuries, its causes, and treatment options.

What is an acquired brain injury?

An acquired brain injury is any form of brain damage that occurs after birth. It differs from genetic or congenital disorders, and includes damage sustained by injury or disease.

While acquired brain injuries and intellectual disability may appear similar, an acquired brain injury is different from an intellectual disability or a mental illness. People with an acquired brain injury may have difficulties with their thinking and learning abilities such as:

  • problems with memory;
  • problems with concentration or attention;
  • difficulty with planning and organisation;
  • confusion;
  • and difficulties with communication (e.g. having a conversation) but retain intellectual abilities.

The changes a person experiences after an acquired brain injury are considered a loss, and in some cases a person can experience significant recovery.

What are the causes of an acquired brain injury?

The causes of an acquired brain injury vary, but the common factor determining an acquired brain injury is that damage to the brain arises from an event that occurs after birth. Some causes can include:

  • physical trauma (e.g. impact to the head from a car accident, sporting injury, or fall);
  • stroke;
  • brain tumour;
  • brain infection;
  • Degenerative Neurological Disease (i.e., Parkinson Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease);
  • damage from alcohol or drug use;
  • and lack of oxygen.
Treatment options for and acquired brain injury

Treatment for an acquired brain injury differs depending on the extent of injury, its causes and the subsequent symptoms. Whether a person’s emotions, behaviour or cognitive ability is affected, rehabilitation is often required and occurs long term.

While recovery can be significant in some cases, depending on the severity of the injury, some people may experience symptoms that require daily supports.

Supports for acquired brain injuries may be covered under an NDIS. To find out more, please get in touch with our team to learn about tailored treatment and support options.

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