Definitions and Terms Used for Brain Injury
The term acquired brain injury (ABI) refers to any damage to the brain occurring after birth. There are a range of different types of ABI.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of ABI and occurs when the brain is damaged due to the application of force, as is the case with road traumas, falls, assaults, and sporting injuries.
- Other causes of ABI include stroke, hypoxic injuries where the brain is deprived of oxygen (such as from near drowning incidents and cardiac arrest), brain tumours, encephalitis, meningitis, drug and alcohol abuse.
- Degenerative neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, are also now considered a form of ABI.
Frequency of Occurrence of Brain Injury
Brain Injury is a common condition, with approximately one in every forty Australians living with an ABI.
Impact of Brain Injury
Because of the complexity of the brain, no two brain injuries are the same. In many cases, the injury is invisible to an observer, and for these people their “normal” appearance hides the many significant challenges they are experiencing. A brain injury can create a whole host of new changes and challenges for a person, and has the potential to affect every aspect of their life. A brain injury also typically affects a person’s family and support network in significant ways, as they work to support the person who has sustained the injury and adjust to the disruptions in their life.
Features of Brain Injury
People with ABI may experience:
- Cognitive difficulties, such as challenges with processing information, reasoning and problem solving and concentration.
- Memory difficulties and excessive fatigue are two of the most common challenges after a brain injury, and some experience sensitivity with sensory input such as noise and light.
- For many, the injury will affect their communication in some way as well.
- Damage to the frontal lobes, in particular, is associated with behaviours of concerns and difficulties regulating emotions.
Together, these challenges can have significant implications for a person’s independence, social functioning, employment, family roles, mental health, identity and overall quality of life.
Good News in Brain Injury Management
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s capacity to rewire itself in response to what happens to it, and it is through neuroplasticity that people can make significant progress after their ABI. Progress typically occurs most quickly in the first 12 months after the injury, but our brains remain plastic and capable of change right across the lifespan. People can continue to make gains many years post-injury.
Capacity building programs with specialised therapies can work with the participants to target key areas of brain function and capacity whilst assisting in any necessary adjustment to life after an ABI.
Important in Assistance Provided by Brain Injury SA
Our Rewire services delivery an interdisciplinary team approach to meet the needs and goals of our participants. These may include:
- Communication, cognitive, memory and social skill building
- Transfers and gait training
- Falls, balance, and dizziness therapy
- Pain and fatigue management
- Swallowing and mealtime management
- Nutritional advice
- Augmentative and alternative communication
- Support with mental health and wellbeing including adjustment to impact of injury
- Functional Assessments and reports
- Home modifications
- Equipment and assistive technology prescription
- Skill building for returning to work and identifying directions for employment
Therapy sessions can be provided in the home, community or at one of our hubs.
Support networks play a vital role in helping people to adapt to life post-injury. Many people with ABI find connecting with others with lived experience of this condition to be valuable and affirming.
Family, friends, therapists and other professionals can all play a crucial role in supporting the person with the ABI to adjust to their injury and find a sense of purpose, and establish a meaningful and fulfilling life. For some this means returning to previous employment and life roles, for others it means charting an entirely new path.
Watch Video: Living with a Brain Injury
– How Brain Injury SA Offers Services and Support
Video Transcript coming soon.