Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)

What is it?

An acquired brain injury (ABI) is brain damage caused by events that happen after birth, rather than as part of a genetic or congenital disorder. The ‘acquired’ part means that a child wasn’t born with their injury. Instead, it is the result of an accident or illness that has happened later in life.

How does it happen?

Acquired brain injury may be the result of:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI): the result of an impact to the head. Examples might be a car accident or after a fall.
  • Non-traumatic brain injury: the result of brain damage due to something inside the body, such as a stroke or a lack of oxygen. It is often the result of something like meningitis or a brain tumour.

How does it affect children?

ABIs are more common in adults than children, and each child is affected differently depending on which part of their brain is affected and to what extent.

For some children they may have difficulties across a range of different areas. These may include:

  • Tiredness or fatigue.
  • Difficulties in moving around and muscle weakness.
  • Difficulties in learning new information and remembering what they have learnt.
  • Difficulties in concentrating.
  • Difficulties in understanding and using language, including language they were able to use before the ABI. This is also known as Aphasia.
  • Difficulties in being able to eat and drink safely, including difficulties with swallowing.
  • Difficulties in organising and planning tasks.

Non-urgent advice: Learn more

Page last reviewed: 6 September, 2021