This week is Action for Brain Injury Week, providing an opportunity to increase public awareness around brain injuries.

According to Headway, the brain injury association, there were 348,934 UK admissions to hospital with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) during 2013-14, or one admission every 90 seconds. The latest figures suggest that brain injuries are on an upward trend, making it more important than ever that the causes, symptoms and effects of a brain injury are better known.

Action for Brain Injury Week seeks to provide an opportunity to share knowledge and information about brain injury among experts and the general public, as well as focusing on improving care and rehabilitation services and support for brain injury survivors.

Types of brain injury

An ABI is any brain injury which occurs after birth. Causes of ABI might be a fall, a road accident, a haemorrhage, a brain tumour, a stroke or an aneurysm. The effects of an ABI are similar to those of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), however the treatment and rehabilitation of an ABI sufferer can differ.

A TBI is often caused by a severe blow or jolt to the head from incidents such as road traffic accidents, falls and assaults whether at home or at work. TBI is more common in men and those aged 18-24, and the effects vary from case to case depending on the severity of the incident and the type of injury suffered.

Effects of brain injury

The effects of a brain injury vary from case to case, but common effects and symptoms may include:

Loss of consciousness
Immediately after a brain injury a victim may lose consciousness. This can last for a few seconds or minutes but in severe cases a victim may fall into a coma losing consciousness for weeks or months.

Cognitive Disturbance
The way someone remembers, learns and processes information may be affected following a brain injury as well as speed of thought, memory and concentration.

Emotional and behavioural reactions
In some cases a brain injury can affect an individual’s personality. Some people lose the ability to control emotions, such as anger and sadness, and may behave inappropriately in certain situations.

Communication issues
People who have suffered a brain injury may struggle to speak fluently or to find the correct words and, in very serious cases, a brain injury survivor may lose their ability to communicate altogether. Specialist speech and language therapists can help assess a patients’ communicative skills and develop a treatment plan.


Not all TBI’s can be prevented, and in many cases they are entirely unavoidable, however, there are ways to potentially prevent or reduce the severity of a brain injury, including:

• Wearing a helmet when cycling;
• Wearing a helmet when taking part in sport such as horse riding, climbing or cricket; and
• Using appropriate protective equipment when working at height, such as fall prevention equipment like harnesses and bump hats

Some of the effects of a brain injury can be confused with anti-social behaviour. To avoid people with TBI suffering from adverse reactions in public, access to the right support and rehabilitation as well as increasing awareness of brain injuries among the general public is really important.