Headway Essex

Providing Brain Injury Care & Support

Brain injury information home image

 

The Possible Outcome of Brain Injury

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is defined by the United Kingdom Acquired Brian Injury Forum (UKABIF) as follows:

 

“A non-degenerative injury to the brain that has occurred since birth. It can be caused by external physical force or by metabolic derangement. The term ‘Acquired Brain Injury’ includes traumatic brain injury, such as open or closed head injury, and non-traumatic brain injuries such as those caused by strokes and other vascular accidents, hypoxia, toxic substances taken into the body through inhalation or ingestion, and any invasive surgery or treatments for tumours. Currently the term does not include brain injuries that are congenital or produced by birth trauma.”

 

Cause

Acquired brain injury can happen to anyone at any time. The most common causes are the traumatically caused injuries including road traffic accidents, falls, sporting accidents, industrial injuries, and violence.

 

Traumatic brain injury is a well-documented, growing national problem due to the increased survival rate following severe brain injuries. At one time 90% of people with a severe brain injury died, now 90% survive because of improvements in paramedic and acute care.

 

Facilities for Rehabilitation

Statutory provision for rehabilitation is very limited. It tends to be mainly aimed at the physical problems and is usually situated within regional, rather than local, hospitals. When severe behavioural problems exist the person is often sent to one of only a few private behaviour modification units which are spread around the country. The cost of these can be as much as several thousand pounds a week and treatment is usually funded by the Health services or compensation claims. In practice this only tends to happen where the behaviour is extreme, or where it is thought the person will only need a short time there. When rehabilitation is not provided, a lack of motivation and continuous inactivity at home can place an impossible strain on families.

 

Headway Essex provides a community-based information and advice service to support survivors and their families across the county and day care in the north of the county at Headway House. We are the only charitable organisation in the county providing services to this client group in the community in Essex.

 

Effects

Rehabilitation following acquired brain injury is a long-term process requiring active participation. Following discharge from acute care in hospital, life can be very problematic, both for the survivor and their families and friends.

 

There may be obvious physical disabilities such as:

 

One sided weakness - Reduced vision - Poor mobility - Loss of Balance - Speech problems - Extreme tiredness

But it is the cognitive, emotional and psychological problems that create the most havoc with people’s lives.

 

Memory - Organisation skills - Information processing - Concentration - Planning

Emotional issues include:

 

Inability to show emotions/affection - Laughing/crying inappropriately - Inappropriate behaviour.

Psychological problems can include:

 

Depression - Aggression and violence - Loss of impulse control - Mood swings - Lack of motivation - Lethargy

The long-term disabilities may not correspond to the physical severity of the original injury, and can become apparent some time, even years, after the cause. A person can appear to make a good recovery but may be difficult to live with and become unemployable because of the above problems. The personality changes can be the most difficult for close family to accept and this puts a tremendous strain on many families and relationships.

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