About brain injury
An acquired brain injury (ABI) is an injury caused to the brain since birth. There are many possible causes, including a fall, a road accident, tumour and stroke.
This section gives an overview of the brain, brain injury and the practical issues that can arise.
It is divided into sections for individuals who are affected by brain injury, professionals who work in the field of brain injury, and further information about brain injury.
Information for individuals
Find out about how acquired brain injury affects survivors, family members, carers and the people around them. We provide information to help at the different stages of brain injury, from hospital to home.
Acquired brain injury can have a number of different causes. Some of the most common types of brain injury include:
- Traumatic brain injury (for instance road traffic collisions, falls or assaults)
- Minor head injury and concussion (loss of consciousness of less than 15 minutes)
- Aneurysm (also known as a cerebral aneurysm)
- Brain haemorrhage (also known as a haemorrhagic stroke)
- Brain tumour
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Hypoxic/anoxic brain injury (caused a reduction or loss of oxygen to the brain)
A brain injury can lead to a wide range of effects. While many people recover quickly after a minor head injury (often known as concussion), this is not always the case and people may experience longer-term effects.
The more severe the brain injury, the longer-term and more pronounced the effects are likely to be. Some people may spend time in a coma, or experience a more prolonged reduced awareness state. During the early stages of recovery, brain injury survivors often go through a stage called Post-traumatic amnesia, where they have no continuous memory of day-to-day events and their behaviour may be very uncharacteristic and confused.
A brain injury can cause behavioural and emotional changes, hormonal imbalances, difficulties with cognition and memory, a range of communication problems, physical effects and, very commonly, fatigue.
The time immediately after the injury is bound to be full of worry and uncertainty for everyone concerned.
We provide information on the different stages of recovery, from the time in the hospital and early rehabilitation through to discharge. Families may be able to access a grant to help with the unexpected costs of brain injury by applying to our Emergency Fund.
You can also set up a page on our I'm calling about Chris website to post updates on your loved one's situation and allow family and friends to keep up-to-date. They can also access our information that explains how to support a family that is dealing with brain injury.
Rehabilitation aims to help the brain learn alternative ways of working in order to minimise the long-term impact of the brain injury. Rehabilitation also helps the survivor and the family to cope successfully with any remaining disabilities.
A brain injury can lead to a wide range of difficulties in day-to-day life. For many people, a priority may be to seek financial support. This could involve getting legal advice to pursue compensation, applying for welfare benefits or applying for a grant from the Headway Emergency Fund.
They may also qualify for a Brain injury identity card, which is designed to provide brain injury survivors with added confidence in everyday social scenarios, and ensure they get the right support if they come into contact with the police.
For some people, the emotional, behavioural, physical and cognitive changes of brain injury can have an impact on existing and future relationships.
We explain how a brain injury effects relationships, with further information for partners and friends. We also provide in-depth information on an often overlooked issue - the affect of brain injury on sex and sexuality.
There is also useful information to help people with brain injury to cope with parenting and supporting children.
You can browse our full range of free booklets and factsheets in the information library.
Brain injury and me is an innovative and exciting website that raises awareness of brain injury through personal stories.
The Living with brain injury section contains a wide range of practical advice, incorporating the experiences and views of survivors and carers.
You can find the information you need using the menu or the quick links below. If you can't find what you are looking for or have any more questions, please contact our helpline.