What is acquired brain injury (ABI)?

An acquired brain injury (ABI) is any damage to the brain that happens after birth.

How acquired brain injury (ABI) can affect children and teenagers

Acquired brain injury (ABI) can affect:

  • senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste
  • coordination, balance, strength and movement
  • eating or swallowing
  • attention, concentration, memory, thinking and learning
  • communication, speech and language
  • behaviour and personality
  • energy levels
  • muscle control and ability to move.

In some cases of ABI, children might have seizures.

The effects of ABI can range from temporary to permanent. They can also range from mild to severe, depending on how severe the damage caused by the injury is.

Living with acquired brain injury (ABI)

A child with acquired brain injury (ABI) can feel quite upset by the health problems and impairments that come with ABI. Learning to live with ABI can be a long and difficult process.

It can also be hard for the whole family to cope with, especially if the child’s personality or behaviour has been affected by ABI.

But the good news is that most children with ABI improve with treatment and make progress daily.

If your child has ABI, it’s easy to get caught up in looking after him. But it’s important to look after your own wellbeing and get support for yourself too. If you’re physically and mentally well, you’ll be better able to care for your child.

People who can help children with acquired brain injury (ABI)

If your child has ABI, you and your child might work with a large team of health professionals. The people in this team will aim to help your child recover or develop the skills she needs to reach her own individual goals for life with ABI.

The team might include some or all of the following health professionals:

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) might support your child with ABI, as well as you and your family. Our guide has answers to your questions about the NDIS.

Causes of acquired brain injury (ABI)

Acquired brain injury (ABI) can be caused by:

  • trauma like a head injury in a car accident
  • lack of oxygen – for example, during a severe asthma attack or a drowning
  • brain infections like meningitis or encephalitis
  • stroke
  • brain tumour
  • severe bleeding on the brain
  • poisoning.

Side effects from chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery might also result in injury to the brain.

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