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The Basics

What is an Acquired Brain Injury?

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is damage to the brain which occurs after birth and is not related to a congenital disorder or a degenerative disease. Acquired Brain Injury includes concussions, may be either temporary or ongoing, and may cause partial or total functional disability or psychosocial difficulties.

What Causes Acquired Brain Injuries?

The most common cause of brain injury is a trauma to the head, such as in a motor vehicle accident, a fall, a violent assault, or a workplace incident. Other causes of brain injury include stroke, brain aneurysm, brain tumours, certain viruses, and substance abuse.

The brain is damaged by the impact of it colliding with the interior of the skull, as well as by rotational forces that occur within the brain tissue.

What are the Effects of an ABI?

A concussion or brain injury may lead to deficiencies in one or several of the following areas:

  • Communication: speech, comprehension, reading, writing
  • Cognitive Abilities: reduction in arithmetic or reasoning skills, concentration, memory
  • Physical Functioning: visual challenges, headaches, balance problems, fatigue, poor coordination
  • Social/Behavioural Abilities: poor social awareness, emotional problems, impulsivity, reduced judgment, anger outbursts, depression, reduced motivation, feelings of isolation

How Do I Recover From an ABI?

Some degree of recovery following a concussion or brain injury is common, but the extent of recovery is difficult to predict.

The Victoria Brain Injury Society has many programs to assist people with acquired brain injuries along their journey as a survivor.

For more information about brain injury, we recommend visiting www.brainstreams.ca.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of brain injury that is caused by an impact which bumps or shakes the brain inside the skull. This could be a blow to the head, a fall, or another type of accident. You don’t need to lose conciousness in order to sustain a concussion, although this can occasionally happen depending on the incident.

What are the Effects of a Concussion?

Concussion symptoms vary considerably and concussions in children can be substantially different from concussions in adults.

Some symptoms of concussion include:

  • Headache and pain that won’t go away
  • Difficulties with memory
  • Struggling to concentrate or make decisions
  • Slowed thinking, speaking, or reading
  • Getting easily confused
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in mood for no apparent reason
  • Changes to sleep patterns
  • Issues with balance including feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • Nausea
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Issues with your vision

What Should I Do If I Think I've Experienced a Concussion?

Contact your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will ask questions about the injury & may ask you questions that test your ability to pay attention, your learning, memory & problem-solving. They may also order other tests, neurological exams, a CT scan, or an MRI. Additionally, you should:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to rest.
  • Have someone stay with you for the first 24-48 hours
  • Avoid all screens, cell phone, tv, computer etc.
  • Don’t take any other medicines unless your doctor says it’s okay.
  • Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs.
  • Make sure that you slowly return to any activities, one at a time. If your symptoms come back when you are doing an activity, stop and rest for a day.

How Long Will It Take to Recover?

Some people recover within a few days, for others it can take weeks, and some may have long-lasting symptoms. While approximately 80% of people with a concussion only experience symptoms for a few weeks, 20% of people experience symptoms for much longer. If you’ve experienced a concussion and are struggling, contact us.

Looking for more? Check out Brainline for additional information: http://www.brainline.org/landing_pages/categories/concussion.html

ready to learn more?

Sign up for our flagship course, Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) 101 to learn more about brain function, brain injury, and coping strategies. This 3-4 week program is offered to brain injury survivors, friends, family & members of the community!

Sign up for abi 101

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Victoria Brain Injury Society

Units C, D & E 830 Pembroke Street
Victoria, B.C. V8T 1H9

Phone: 250-598-9339

Email: admin@vbis.ca