In the UK, approximately 160,000 people are admitted to hospitals each year, and about 1.3 million people are living with disabilities resulting from these injuries. There are many different causes of brain injury. They can range in severity from mild (such as a temporary change in mental status) to severe (causing long-term problems). Here we will discuss a few of the most common types of brain injury.
Two types of brain injury
The various causes of brain injury fall into one of two categories.
Acquired brain injury (ABI) – is an injury caused to the brain since birth. An acquired brain injury may also fall into the category of a traumatic brain injury if there was trauma involved at birth. Also included here are conditions such as brain tumour, haemorrhage, stroke and encephalitis.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – is an injury to the brain caused by trauma to the head. This includes falls, home accidents, assaults and car accidents, to name a few.
Brain injuries may be mild, moderate or severe, and the level of recovery and long-term condition will depend on the type and severity of the brain injury.
Here are some of the most common causes of brain injury
A stroke causes a disruption in the blood supply to the brain, causing a brain injury. A stroke may be:
- Ischemic – a blood clot causes a blockage in the vessel.
- Haemorrhagic stroke – a burst blood vessel causing blood to leak into the brain.
When the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain is disrupted by a stroke, the brain cells become starved of oxygen and begin to die. This results in brain injury to that area of the brain.
Also known as a cerebral aneurysm, a brain aneurysm occurs when a section of a blood vessel in the brain becomes enlarged as a result of swelling in a weakened area. Over time, the pressure of the blood flowing increases the size of the aneurysm. As it grows, it puts pressure on surrounding tissue which may cause mild symptoms such as headaches and fatigue.
However, in most cases, there are no symptoms. If an aneurysm bursts, it causes a stroke or in some cases, may be fatal.
There are four types of brain haemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) named after the area of the brain they occur in. These are subdural, extradural, intracerebral and subarachnoid haemorrhage. Subdural and extradural haemorrhages are the most common and often lead to more long-term side effects. These lasting effects will vary greatly from person to person and depend on the severity of the bleeding.
A tumour is an abnormal mass of tissue inside the skull. There are two types of brain tumours – malignant (cancerous) and benign (non-cancerous).
Malignant tumours often grow and spread quickly. They may start in the brain or be secondary tumours from cancer in another area of the body. The earlier a brain tumour is discovered, the better the chance of survival and recovery.
Benign tumours grow more slowly and don’t spread. The tumour may still cause harm by placing pressure on areas of the brain as it grows, damaging healthy tissue in the process.
Hypoxic brain injury
The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen or the cells begin to die, causing irreversible brain injury. Some examples of causes of hypoxia in the brain include:
- Respiratory or cardiac arrest
- Poor heart function after a heart attack
- Extremely low blood pressure
- Severe asthma attack
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Drug overdose
Again, the severity of the resulting brain injury depends on the severity of the incident and varies greatly from person to person. However, any damage caused by hypoxia is usually irreparable.
There are other types of brain injury not covered here, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, encephalitis and meningitis, to name a few.
Regardless of the cause of the brain injury, the lasting effects are varied. The more severe the brain injury, the more long-lasting the effects are likely to be.
Here are some examples of how brain injury can affect a person.
- Behavioural changes – likes, dislikes and views on life may change
- Cognitive changes – affecting memory, understanding and concentration
- Communication problems – speech and language
- Emotional effects – affecting mood and relationships
- Hormonal imbalances
- Physical changes – affecting mobility
Even with the best rehabilitation, family support and peer or community support, survivors of brain injury will face many challenges.
Eximius provides exceptional support for people suffering from brain injury. If you or a loved one would like to understand more about how we do this or about any of the different care options we can provide, please contact us for further information. We’d love to help.
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