Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)

Acquired brain injuries (ABI) are injuries which include all types of traumatic brain injuries, as well as injuries sustained after birth by strokes, lack of oxygen to the brain, alcohol or drugs, and disease. Traumatic brain injuries are a subsection of acquired brain injuries and typically involve external forces. Regardless, most brain injuries are unexpected and difficult to handle both physically and emotionally. While it may be difficult to cover all facets of an acquired brain injury this article looks to highlight the details of an ABI, the common causes of an ABI, and lastly, the resources for prevention of ABI’s.

Details of Acquired Brain Injuries

Because acquired brain injuries can vary immensely, it is difficult to describe how each injury will play out. Most people with an ABI experience fatigue as well as slower computing abilities within situations.  Because the brain is the central system in which the body functions individuals may experience changes to their disposition, other sensory abilities, and how they learn.  Depending on the source of the ABI, different functions can be lost.  The brain is connected with the spinal cord to make the central nervous system and there is no short and fast rule for injuries such as these.  A range of tests may be performed to assess the damage and pinpoint exactly what can be done to help the patient.  Recovery will ultimately be determined from where the damage was.  The road to recovery may also be intermittent with new faces such as social workers, doctors, and therapists to assist in rehabilitation.

Common Causes of an ABI

There are several common causes of an ABI.  The following is a generalized list of what can create an acquired brain injury (excludes traumatic brain injuries):

Alcohol or Drugs

Because of their addictive and destructive properties, drugs and alcohol can cause unforeseeable brain injuries. One website claims after several studies that ABI victims have typical alcohol or drug abuse in their past. Additionally, depending on the amount of serious alcoholism involved in a patient’s life, they generally have a harder road to recovery. This is due partially to the fact drugs and alcohol damages electronic pathways in the brain that can never be replenished, making the previous state of being harder to reach again.

Strokes

A stroke is generally classified as a lack of blood flow to the brain. There are two types of strokes; ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic is the more common of the two and is blood is slowed or is blocked to the brain. A hemorrhagic stoke is a stroke that involves a tear in a weakened blood vessel. If either strokes occur, brain tissue can start to die depending on the amount of time the brain is blocked. This process can subsequently spread and damage other parts of the brain depending on when doctors can stop the process or secure the brain.

Lack of Oxygen to the Brain

The medical term for lack of oxygen to the brain is cerebral hypoxia. The brain needs oxygen at large amounts or else it cannot function. This process of gathering oxygen occurs from two places; your blood and your breathing. Cerebral hypoxia can occur from any event that will shut off oxygen with the prime example being drowning. Cardiac arrest or cardiac arrythmia can also cause a lack of oxygen to the brain.

Prevention of Acquired Brain Injuries

There are several steps that individuals can take to prevent acquired brain injuries. Monitor your alcohol consumption and do not consume drugs.  These substances can harm you in multiple ways that are not always predictable. Watch for strokes. Eat healthy and exercise frequently. Know the signs of a stroke so you can prevent it or catch it before serious damage is done. If you have suffered an acquired brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, please do not hesitate to contact Christensen & Hymas. We provide confidential consultations for loved ones or injury victims. Call us at 801.506.0800.

Image “Schizophrenia fMRI working memory” copyright by Kim J, Matthews NL, Park S.

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