Brain & Nervous System - Acquired Brain Injuries (ABI)

Brain & Nervous System

Acquired Brain Injuries (ABI)

A traumatic, acquired head or brain injury (ABI) is an injury to the brain caused by the head being hit by something or shaken violently. This injury can change how the person acts, moves, and thinks. The signs of head injury can be very different depending on which part of the brain has been injured and how severely. Children and young people with ABI may some of the following difficulties:

Physical disabilities:
  • Altered sensation, changes in the way they see, hear, feel and taste.
  • Paralysis or weakness of one or both sides of the body. There may be increased muscle tone (spasticity) causing their muscles to be stiff and tight.
  • Problems with fine motor and perceptual skills, such as writing and drawing.
  • Problems with gross motor skills such as balance, coordination and walking.
  • Seizures or fits may start as a result of the injury.
Difficulties with thinking and reasoning:
  • Trouble with memory, following instructions and concentrating.
  • They may think more slowly.
  • They may also have difficulty understanding words, with reading and writing, and talking and listening to others.
  • Planning and understanding the order in which events happen (sequencing).
  • Organising themselves and problem solving.
Social, behavioural, or emotional problems:
  • Children may have sudden changes in mood and anxiety levels.
  • They may have trouble relating to or getting on with others.
  • Their motivation levels may be lower than before the head injury.
  • They may appear to have less control over their emotions; they may be restless and may laugh or cry a lot, be more demanding or easily frustrated.
  • You may also notice changes in sleeping patterns

A diagnosis of ‘Acquired brain injury’ is not used for brain injuries that happen before or during birth, please refer to the cerebral palsy section below for information on these conditions.

Physiotherapy can help with the physical difficulties a child may have following a brain injury, by helping them learn and relearn movements. KidsPhysio understand and consider the associated problems your child may have as a result of their injury. We can also offer advice regarding their return to or integration within school. Your physiotherapist will liase with other health professionals involved in your child’s care.