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An injury or damage to our brain is an acquired brain injury (ABI). Brain injuries occur if anything interrupts the blood flow to our brains, such as a stroke, an aneurysm, or a head injury.

Seizures, tumours, and infections can also be the cause of an acquired brain injury. Regardless of the cause, an ABI can have a life-changing impact on a person.

What is an Acquired Brain Injury?

An acquired brain injury is a brain injury that is not congenital or caused by a genetic disability.

An acquired brain injury (ABI) is any damage to the brain that happens after birth. Most people associate an ABI with a trauma-induced accident such as a blow to the head or a motor vehicle accident. However, brain injuries after birth have many possible causes.

6 Types of Acquired Brain Injuries

There are six main types of acquired brain injuries:

  1. Traumatic brain injury (TBI): A TBI is a physical injury to the brain caused by external forces, such as a blow to the head. A TBI can also occur from sports injuries, falls, collisions or from motor vehicle accidents.
  2. Stroke: A stroke is a brain injury caused by a blockage or rupture in one of the blood vessels supplying our brain. When this happens, the brain cells downstream from the blockage or rupture can die because they no longer receive sufficient oxygen and nutrients.
  3. Aneurysm: An aneurysm is a weak spot in one of the blood vessels supplying our brain. The vessel can bulge and eventually rupture when this happens, causing a brain hemorrhage.
  4. Seizure: A seizure is an uncontrolled electrical discharge in the brain. Attacks can occur in several ways, including head injuries, infections, and tumours.
  5. Tumour: A tumour is an abnormal mass of tissue that can develop in any part of the body, including the brain. Tumours can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
  6. Anoxic brain injury: An anoxic brain injury is a condition where the brain is deprived of oxygen. Oxygen deprivation can happen if the heart stops beating, breathing stops, or a severe drop in blood pressure. Anoxic brain injuries can be very mild, causing only a temporary loss of consciousness or much more powerful, resulting in coma or death.

 

The impact of an ABI will vary depending on the type and severity of the injury. Several different symptoms may be present following an ABI.

The Impact of an Acquired Brain Injury

Impact of a stone hitting water

Regardless of the cause, an ABI can have a life-changing impact on a person. Some of the most common effects of an ABI include:

Cognitive changes:

  • Changes in personality
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty with problem-solving and reasoning
  • Memory problems
  • Changes in mood and behaviour

Communication Deficits:

  • Difficulty with speaking
  • Difficulty with understanding
  • Difficulty with reading or writing
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • Difficulty identifying different objections and their function

Motor Changes:

  • Muscle paralysis or weakness
  • Difficulty with motor planning
  • Difficulty with movement/coordination
  • Loss of balance
  • Decreased Conditioning
  • Spasticity

Sensory changes:

  • Pain
  • Loss of sensation or oversensitive areas
  • Difficulty with hearing/hearing impairments
  • Difficulty with vision/vision impairments
  • Changes or loss of taste or smell

Other:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Loss of bladder/bowel control
  • Decreased motivation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability

How is an ABI Diagnosed?

Doctor looking at a CT scan

Doctor in hospital looking at ct scan

If you think you or someone you know may have suffered an ABI, it is essential to see a doctor as soon as possible. A variety of tests can help to diagnose an ABI, including:

* MRI:

An MRI is a scan that uses magnets and radio waves to create images of the brain. This test can identify injuries such as skull fractures, bleeding in the brain, and damage to the areas of the brain.

* CT scan:

A CT scan is a type of X-ray that uses radiation to create images of the brain. This test can identify brain bleeding, skull fractures, and damage to the brainstem.

* EEG:

An EEG is a test that measures the electrical activity in the brain. This test can detect seizures.

* CSF analysis:

A CSF analysis is a test that measures the levels of certain substances in the cerebrospinal fluid. This test can detect infections and inflammation.

What are the Treatment Options for an ABI?

The treatment for an acquired brain injury will vary depending on the type and severity of the injury. For example, a person who has suffered a mild TBI may only require rest and a gradual return to daily activities, while a person who has suffered a severe TBI may require extensive medical intervention.

In many cases, rehabilitation will be necessary to help the person adjust to their new life after an ABI. Rehabilitation may include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive therapy.

If you or someone you know has suffered an acquired brain injury, it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment of an ABI is essential.

Physiotherapy for Post-traumatic Brain Injury

Recovery

When someone has a traumatic brain injury (TBI), their brain and their body go through numerous changes. Physiotherapy is an important aspect of the rehabilitation process following a TBI

What Does Physiotherapy Involve?

Physiotherapy sessions are individualized and catered to the person’s specific needs. Just as no two ABIs are the same, no two physiotherapy sessions are the same.

Physiotherapy for someone with an ABI usually starts slowly. The brain needs time to heal and recover from the injury. During this early phase, the physiotherapist may work on stretching, range-of-motion exercises, or other gentle movements. Treatment sessions will also likely be designed to help the person relearn basic movements, such as sitting, standing, and eventually walking.

Once the individual feels a little better, the physiotherapist may introduce more challenging tasks or exercises. These exercises may include balance exercises, mobility exercises, coordination tasks, strength training, and/or aerobic conditioning. The physiotherapist will also work on helping the person to relearn how to do their daily activities, such as cooking or cleaning.

Key points regarding physiotherapy sessions following an ABI:

  • Goal-oriented and individualized
    • Working towards something you enjoy
  • No ABI/condition is the same
    • No treatment is the same
  • Aimed at getting you physically back to what you like doing

 

What are the Benefits of Physiotherapy for TBI?

Physiotherapist treating a client

Elderly people at the gym making physical exercises.

Physiotherapy can help people with a TBI improve their physical and cognitive abilities. It can also help reduce the risk of developing long-term problems, such as chronic pain and fatigue. In addition, physiotherapy can help to improve a person’s quality of life and independence.

If you or someone you know has suffered a TBI and is having some physical difficulties, it may be beneficial to seek physiotherapy. With the help of a qualified physiotherapist, an individual with a TBI can have greater recovery potential.

Memory Changes After a Traumatic Brain Injury

It is common for people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) to experience changes in their memory. Some studies have shown that as many as 50% of people with TBIs experience memory problems.

What Causes Memory Changes After a TBI?

Several factors can contribute to changes in memory after a TBI. One of the most common causes is damage to the parts of the brain that are responsible for memory, such as the hippocampus. Often, depending on the extent of the injury, an individual with a TBI may have difficulty forming new memories.

How Does Memory Change After a TBI Affect the Person?

The changes in memory that occur after a TBI can significantly impact the person’s life. In some cases, the changes can be so severe that the person cannot return to their job or previous lifestyle.

In addition, the changes in memory can also lead to social and emotional difficulties. For example, the person may find it challenging to remember people’s names or keep track of a conversation. They may also feel frustrated and overwhelmed by the changes to their memory.

How Can Memory Changes After a TBI be Treated?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the treatment for memory changes after a TBI will vary from person to person. However, some of the most common treatments include:

  • Cognitive rehabilitation therapy
  • Memory aids, such as notebooks and calendars
  • Psychotherapy
  • Education and support groups
  • Various medications

 

With the proper treatment, many people with TBIs can improve their memory and improve their quality of life.

Living Life with an Acquired Brain Injury

Seniors walking on a beach

Senior couple walking holding hands at sunset

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can significantly impact a person’s life. There may be tremendous physical, emotional, and cognitive changes. This person must learn how to live life with an acquired brain injury.

Here are some tips that may be helpful if you have suffered a brain injury:

  • Get plenty of rest: When you are dealing with a TBI, it is essential to get plenty of rest. Rest will help your body heal and give you the energy you need to cope with the demands of daily life.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet is essential for people with a TBI. Ensure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and avoid foods high in sugar and fat.
  • Stay active: Exercise is an integral part of rehabilitation after a TBI. It can help to improve your physical and cognitive abilities, as well as your mood.
  • Seek support: It is essential to have a support system when dealing with a TBI. Talk to your friends and family about your feelings and seek out support groups or counselling if you need more help.

With the right combination of treatment and support, it is possible to live a whole and productive life after a brain injury.

Major Life Adjustments

After an acquired brain injury, many people must make major adjustments to their lives. These changes may include relearning basic skills, such as standing or walking and include adapting to a new way of living. These changes can be overwhelming for some people, and they may feel like they are struggling to cope. It is important to remember that you are not alone, and many people can help you through this challenging time.

Many resources are available to help you adjust to your new life. You may want to seek out counselling or therapy to help you deal with the emotional aspects of your injury. It is also essential to stay active and involved in your community. Participating in activities that you enjoy will help you feel more normal and help you cope with your new life.

Contact your local Brain Injury Association or your national Brain Injury Association. These associations can provide you with a host of services and resources.

There are also support groups available for people with an acquired brain injury. These groups can provide you with information, advice, and support from others who have similar experiences. If you struggle to adjust to your new life after an acquired brain injury, reach out for help.

 

Dealing With the Challenges of Caring for An Acquired Brain Injury Sufferer

A man helping a senior

If you are the caregiver for someone who has suffered a brain injury, you may be feeling overwhelmed. Caring for someone with a TBI can be demanding, both physically and emotionally. Here are some tips to help you cope:

  • Get plenty of rest: You must take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Make sure you get enough sleep and take breaks when you need them.
  • Seek support: Don’t try to do everything on your own. Talk to other caregivers, join a support group, or see a counsellor if you need to talk with someone.
  • Be patient: Recovery from a brain injury can be slow and challenging. Be patient with your loved ones, and do not expect them to return to their previous level of function overnight.
  • Take care of yourself: It is important to remember to take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally. Make sure you eat a healthy diet, get enough exercise, and take time for yourself.

Caring for someone with a TBI can be challenging but rewarding. With patience and support, you can help your loved one live a productive life.

Emotional Changes After a Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can significantly impact a person’s emotions. The person may experience various emotions, including sadness, anxiety, anger, and frustration.

How Can Emotional Changes After a TBI be Treated?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the treatment for emotional changes after a TBI will vary from person to person. However, some of the most common treatments include:

  • Cognitive rehabilitation therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Education and support groups

With the proper treatment, many people with TBI can make improvements to their emotional state and live everyday lives.

What Are the Most Common Emotional Changes After a TBI?

Depressed girl

Young woman having autumn depression and crying

Several emotional changes can occur after a TBI. Some of the most common include:

  • Depression: A person with a TBI may experience depression due to the changes in their life and the stress of coping with an injury.
  • Anxiety: A person with a TBI may feel anxious about their injury, future, and coping ability.
  • Anger: A person with a TBI may feel angry at themselves, others, or the world.
  • Frustration: A person with a TBI may feel frustrated by their changed abilities and the challenges they face.
  • Irritability: A person with a TBI may be more easily irritated than before due to the changes in their brain.
  • Mood swings: A person with a TBI may experience more extreme mood swings than before due to the changes in their brain.
  • Apathy: A person with a TBI may feel less motivated and interested in things than before due to the changes in their brain.

What Can I Do to Help Myself or Someone Else with Emotional Changes After a TBI?

If you are experiencing emotional changes after a TBI, there are many things you can do to help yourself. Some of the most effective include:

  • Talking to a therapist: A therapist can provide support and guidance as you cope with your emotions.
  • Joining a support group: A support group can provide you with a sense of community and understanding from others who are going through the same thing.
  • Exercising: Appropriate exercise can help to improve your mood and reduce stress levels.
  • Eating a healthy diet: Eating a balanced, healthy diet can help to boost your mood and energy levels.
  • Getting enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is vital for your physical and mental health.
  • Practicing relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, can help reduce stress and improve your mood.

Advice for the Caregiver to Help Deal with Post-TBI Emotions

Tips and Tricks

A person drawing and pointing at a Tips and Tricks Chalk Illustration

If you are caring for someone with emotional changes after a TBI, you can also do some things to help. Some of the most effective include:

  • Giving them space: It is essential to give the person time to adjust to their new reality.
  • Listening to them: Listen to what the person is saying and try to understand how they are feeling.
  • Helping them stick to a routine: Having a routine can help to reduce stress and improve mood.
  • Encouraging them to exercise: Exercise can help to reduce stress and improve mood.
  • Helping them eat a healthy diet: Eating a balanced, healthy diet can help to boost mood and energy levels.
  • Making sure they get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential for physical and mental health.
  • Helping them find a support group: A support group can provide the person with a sense of community and understanding from others who are going through the same thing.

 Resources

Resources

If you or someone you know is dealing with emotional changes after a TBI, many resources can help. Some of the most helpful include:

https://www.brainline.org/: Brain line provides information and resources for people with TBI and their loved ones.

https://www.cdc.gov/: The Center for Disease Control provides TBI prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation information.

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/   National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information on TBI causes symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

https://msktc.org/tbi/model-system-centers  Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems provides information on TBI rehabilitation and resources for people with TBI and their loved ones.

Conclusion

The brain is the most valuable asset we own. It controls our body’s central nervous system, our thoughts, our feelings, and our ability to move. Damage to the brain in any form is considered a brain injury. ABIs include concussions, strokes, anoxia, brain trauma, tumours, infections, or surgery.

Suffering an injury to the brain can be a life-altering event. ABIs can affect our ability to move, think, feel, and communicate. However, there is hope if you or a loved one has suffered an ABI. Many people with ABIs can make a reasonable recovery with the proper medical treatment. Several resources are available to help people with ABIs and their loved ones.

If you suspect that you or someone you know has suffered an ABI, it is crucial to seek medical help immediately. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner treatment can begin. Many people with ABIs can make a good recovery with the proper treatment.

About the Author

Alex Bergin PT  is a certified physiotherapist and one of the owners of Bergin Motion. Bergin Motion is a family-run Barrie Physiotherapy Clinic located in Barrie’s Southend. Alex specializes in acquired brain injury rehabilitation. Alex is a certified NDT practitioner. Neuro Development Therapy is a specialized hands-on treatment technique that promotes mobility, balance, core strength and gross motor skills in a playful and fun and dynamic way. Alex is part of a team at Bergin Motion in Barrie, Ontario that works with all kinds of neurological issues.

About Bergin Motion

Barrie Ontario Physiotherapy

Bergin Motion is a Barrie Physiotherapy Clinic. Bergin Motion offers physiotherapy in Barrie to clients with a wide range of conditions.

The clinic in Barrie specializes in orthopedic, neurological, and pelvic health disciplines.

Bergin Motion treats clients both at their clinic and in the comfort of their own home if they cannot travel to the clinic.

Located in the south end of Barrie, Ontario, the physio clinic boasts 9000 sq. ft., with seven treatment rooms and a fully equipped gym.