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Acquired Brain Injury

An acquired brain injury is when a person suffers any sort of brain injury after birth, and is the result of both traumatic and non-traumatic forms of brain injury. Because the brain is a delicate organ, controlling all different parts of lives (physical, intellectual, behavioral, social, and emotional), it can often be devastating when acquired brain injury occurs. Even a mild injury has the potential to cause a serious disability that will prevent a person from completing regular daily activities. Unless the injury is severe, however, most people retain their intellectual abilities and simply have difficulty controlling other aspects, like coordination and controlling thoughts and actions.

The term acquired brain injury should not be confused with the term traumatic brain injury. While one does technically cause the other, they are not always the same. When traumatic brain injury occurs, it is the result of outside forces traumatically injuring the brain in some way. For example, a person may suffer a brain injury in a motor vehicle accident, by falling down the stairs and hitting the head, or when physically assaulted by another person with a blunt instrument. Acquired brain injury can also refer to brain injury that arises from internal forces. There are many different causes for non-traumatic brain injury, including but not limited to strokes, poisons, developed brain tumors, spread infections, substance abuse, hypoxia, ischemia, and encephalopathy.

There are a wide variety of symptoms, not all of which will likely be present at once, depending on the source and cause of the brain injury. Any symptoms of brain injury fall under four main groups: cognitive, perceptual, physical, and behavioral. Cognitive related symptoms include difficulty in processing information (as in decreased accuracy or speed), shortened attention span, an inability to understand the abstract, impaired decision-making abilities, inability to follow directions with multiple steps, memory loss, and/or impairment and difficulty expressing thoughts or understanding others.

Perceptual related symptoms include a change in any of the senses but most likely vision, no sense of time, disorders of smell or taste, an altered sense of balance (feeling dizzy) and increased pain sensitivity. For physical related symptoms, there may be a persistent headache, extreme mental and/or physical fatigue, disorders of movement (such as ataxia and tremors), seizures, impaired motor control, a sensitivity to light, sleep disorders, paralysis and unclear speech due to poor facial muscular movement.

Lastly, there are behavioral and emotional related symptoms for acquired brain injury. These include, but are not limited to, irritability and impatience, reduced tolerance for stress, lack of initiative (or apathy), dependence, denial of disability, lack of inhibition (which may include inappropriate sexual behavior and aggression), inflexibility and either flattened or heightened emotional responses and reactions.

It is difficult to tell when one may recover from acquired brain injury, if at all. This is because it is not often that two cases are alike, as brain injuries affect different kinds of people everywhere. Every injury is unique to the person who is suffering the problem and the symptoms they are showing. Depending on this and depending on the course of treatment, the time it would take to recover from an acquired brain injury greatly varies, but it certainly doesn’t happen overnight.

Because there are different levels of severity in relation to acquired brain injury (for example, loss of consciousness may or may not be present when the injury occurs), it may be difficult to tell whether or not the brain should be checked out for signs of injury or damage. The best thing to do when the brain experiences any sort of trauma is always to have it checked out. Additionally, there are a few different ways to properly diagnose acquired brain injury. Such methods include getting a CAT scan, a skull x-ray or an EEG.

People who experience the mildest brain injury can still suffer a variety of symptoms that affect their daily lives and as such should have their brain checked out immediately after any sort of trauma in order to make sure everything is alright in the brain. With an early diagnosis and the right course of treatment as prescribed by a neurologist, lives can be put back into order without any sort of damage disabling them.

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