The differences between Acquired and Traumatic Brain Injury
If you know someone who has experienced a brain injury, whether as a result of medical negligence or an accident – perhaps on the road – you may be hearing a range of different terms and initialisms that are wholly new to you. Two of these could be ABI and TBI. So, what do they mean and what’s the difference between them?
ABI vs. TBI: definitions and differences
What is an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)?
Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) refers to any type of damage to the brain that occurs after birth. This can include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), such as those caused by road traffic accidents, assaults, falls and accidents at home or at work. A ‘non-traumatic’ brain injury – i.e. one that did not occur as a result of external impact/injury to the head - refers to trauma to the brain that has been caused by, for example, a stroke, infection or tumour.
ABI can lead to a wide range of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms, depending on the severity of the injury and the area of the brain affected, treated through a combination of rehabilitation and support services.
Rehabilitation for a brain injury may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, as well as cognitive and psychological therapies. Whereas support services may include assistance with activities of daily living, such as dressing and grooming, as well as emotional support and counselling.
The extent of recovery from an Acquired Brain Injury is dependent on the severity of injury, location and extent of brain damage, as well as the individual's age, overall health, and support systems such as family or friends.
What is considered Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
Traumatic brain injuries are the most common type of Acquired Brain Injury and are typically caused by external physical force or a penetrating head injury.
The brain damage from TBI can be focal (confined to one area of the brain) or diffuse (happens in more than one area of the brain), ranging from mild (concussion) to severe (coma or vegetative state).
Symptoms of a mild TBI may include:
- and memory problems
However if the brain injury is more severe, TBI symptoms may include:
- loss of consciousness
- and difficulty with speech and movement
The effects of a TBI can be short-term or long-term and can include physical, cognitive, and emotional changes. Some physical symptoms can include weakness, numbness, difficulty with coordination and balance, headaches, a change to your sense of smell and or/taste and sensitivity to light and sound.
Cognitive effects can include post-traumatic amnesia immediately following injury, difficulty with memory, attention, concentration, problem-solving, slowed mental processing, impaired decision-making and word finding difficulties. There can also be concerns over reduced insight and mental capacity.
The brain also plays a key role in regulating the body’s hormones. Damage to the parts of the brain that control the monitoring and release of hormones can cause a disruption in the body’s ability to regulate its internal environment. Hormone release can become increased or insufficient, causing a range of physical, psychological or emotional issues.
Emotional effects can include mood disturbance, depression, anxiety, and irritability.
TBI can also cause issues with impaired motivation and difficulties concentrating in certain situations that may involve crowds or noisy environments. Fatigue can also become a significant issue for people with brain injury, limiting cognitive and physical functioning.
Brain injury can unfortunately also be a ‘hidden’ injury. Find out more about 7 hidden symptoms of brain injury.
Diagnosis of a TBI typically involves a physical examination and a neurological examination, as well as imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
Treatment for a Traumatic Brain Injury will then depend on the type of injury that a person has sustained and can include; medication to manage symptoms, physical therapy to improve coordination and balance, and rehabilitation to help the person cope with any changes in cognitive or emotional functioning.
If you or someone close to you has suffered a brain injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, and you think you have a claim for compensation, please contact our team to find out how they can help you.