General Information

What is Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)?

An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is an injury to the brain that has been sustained at some time after birth. It can result in a variety of ways including:

  • Traumatic brain injury (e.g. through a traffic accident, assault or fall);
  • Through an illness (e.g. infection, stroke, brain tumour, degenerative condition);
  • Hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) (e.g. drug overdose, loss of blood);
  • Substance abuse (e.g. drugs including alcohol).

The effects of an ABI vary from one person to another and can depend on the nature and severity of the brain injury sustained. An ABI can result in deterioration in function in various ways including:

  • Cognitive/thinking skills (e.g. reduced memory, concentration, planning);
  • Communication or speech (e.g. slurred speech, trouble finding the right word);
  • Physical and sensory limitations (e.g. movement, fatigue, vision, smell);
  • Emotional or behavioural difficulties (e.g. reduced motivation, impulsivity);

These difficulties can have negative effects on key areas of people’s lives, such as occupation, relationships and independent living. The pattern of recovery from an ABI varies and impairments can be temporary (i.e. improving over time) or permanent.

NHMRC alcohol guidelines


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