Acquired brain injury

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An acquired brain injury (ABI) is brain damage that occurs after birth.

Sudden onset brain injuries can be caused by several incidents, including trauma, lack of oxygen, strokes or drug use.

There are also insidious onset brain injuries that result from prolonged alcohol or substance abuse, tumours or degenerative neurological diseases.

The severity of brain damage can range from mild to extreme, with the most serious side outcomes including coma or death.

Many symptoms of a brain injury impact cognitive function or performance. The main symptoms include loss of consciousness, dizziness, drowsiness, vomiting, headache, nausea or confusion.

People with an ABI may experience long-term difficulties with concentration and short-term memory, altered sleep patterns, personality change, depression, and irritability. Other emotional and behavioural problems may become evident as time progresses.

Computerised tomography (CT) brain scans and x-rays can assist in pinpointing the exact areas of damage within the brain.

Immediate treatment for an ABI may involve surgery to control bleeding in or around the brain. A number of risk factors may also need to be addressed, such as monitoring and controlling pressure inside the head and maintaining healthy blood flow to the brain.

Recovery from surgery will depend on the extent and location of the damage within the brain, the age and general health of the person affected, the surgery response time and the quality of treatment.

Some people experience seizures as a result of brain injuries which may require long-term anticonvulsant treatment.