Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is damage to the brain that was not present at birth and is non-progressive.
The causes of ABI are various including: tumour; stroke; cerebral abscess; traumatic (e.g accidents, falls, and assault), metabolic disorder (e.g liver and kidney disease) and infectious (e.g Encephalitis, Meningitis).
Every 90 seconds someone is admitted to hospital with an ABI. There are 1 million people living with the long-term effects of a brain injury in the UK (Headway, 2015a).
The effects of an ABI may be temporary or permanent and range from subtle to severe, although the consequences may all be serious, with affects on many different aspects of life.
With improvements in the diagnosis and management of brain injuries, many more people survive. However, this improvement in survival rates also means many more are left with significant impairments that impact on their ability to complete everyday tasks and may limit their participation in society.
In many cases, those with an ABI simply ‘don’t fit’ into the social groups of their peers.
Some people may only be physically disabled, but the large majority have ‘hidden’ disabilities which are less easy to observe, so, as a result, lead to misunderstanding, loss of employment, relationship breakdown and social isolation.
Impact on family and friends:
Family and friends play an important, vital and valuable role throughout the whole rehabilitation and recovery process but ABI affects the whole family unit with both short and long-term effects.
Families’ affected by an ABI are having to make big adjustments to their new circumstance. Individual family members’ needs may change at different stages of the ‘ABI journey’. Coming to terms with change and any kind of difficulty can take time and everybody’s feelings and experience is different.