What is ABI

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An Acquired Brain Injury is damage to the brain which occurs after birth, and is not related to a congenital or a degenerative disease. These impairments may be temporary or permanent and cause partial or functional disability or psychological maladjustment.

(World Health Organisation, Geneva 1996).

Causes of ABI

Neoplasm

Cause

An abnormal mass of tissue in the brain caused by the abnormal growth or division of cells. Brain damage associated with neoplasms are sometimes caused indirectly through their treatment

Examples

Brain tumours (both malignant and benign)

Poisoning

Cause

An ingestion of a substance which depresses heart rate or breathing, which then starves the brain of oxygen

Examples of cause

Hypoxic brain damage associated with carbon monoxide inhalation

Vascular

Cause

The malformations of blood vessels supplying the brain, or interruptions of blood circulation due to clots. This can result in damage to the brain when not supplied with enough oxygen

Examples of cause

  • Arterio venous malformation (AVM)

  • Stroke

  • Aneurysm

  • Venous thrombosis

Hypoxia / anoxia

Cause

An interruption of the supply of oxygen to the brain due to external or internal factors, which can result in an ABI

Examples of cause

  • Complications during cardiac surgery

  • Hypothermia/Hyperthermia

  • Near drowning

  • Partial strangulation

  • Seizures

Infection

Cause

An invasion of the brain by bacteria or viruses which multiple causing an adverse reaction in the tissues for example inflammation

Examples

  • Meningitis

  • Encephalitis

  • Toxic shock/sepsis

  • Sub-dural and cerebral abscess

Trauma (Traumatic Brain Injury / TBI)

Cause

An external physical force impacting on the brain

Examples

  • Road traffic accident

  • Fall

  • Assault

  • Sporting accident

  • Gunshot wound

  • Violent shaking (including non-accidental injury)

Metabolic

Cause

A range of disorders / difficulties in how the body breaks down, converts and transports nutrients that have the potential to interrupt and impair the brain’s functions, leading to an ABI

Examples

  • Hypoglycaemia

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)

  • Electrolyte abnormalities

  • Inborn errors of metabolism

  • Hepatic encephalopathy

  • Hormonal abnormalities (thyroid, adrenal, pituitary)

  • Uraemic encephalopathy

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