Understanding Brain Injuries

Boy With Trauma Of The Head
Boy With Trauma Of The Head

When we talk about brain injuries, the subject is nearly always confused because of the sheer number of things that can cause an injury to the brain. There are two main ways in which brain injuries can be classified – and myriad ‘sub-genres’ within those.

  • non-acquired brain injury
  • acquired brain injury

It is easier to explain an acquired brain injury.

Acquired brain injuries (ABIs) are those caused by events that occur after birth. Within this are traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and many other causes.

A non-acquired brain injury is one that is either genetic or congenital, such as foetal alcohol syndrome, or an ante-natal illness. It may be a progressive condition, such as Huntington’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease.

Causes of ABI

Leaving aside traumatic brain injuries, there are a number of other causes of an acquired brain injury.

  • abscess
  • anoxiabrain tumours
  • CO poisoning
  • encephalitis
  • hydrocephalus
  • hyponatraemia
  • meningitis
  • strokes

What is anoxia?

Anoxia means a complete reduction in blood oxygen levels, and is more commonly known as hypoxia – a general or local reduction in oxygen supply. Hypoxia can be incredibly dangerous, as aside from the various damages that can occur to parts of the body, prolonged cerebral hypoxia can cause long-term brain damage.

Causes of hypoxia include near drowning, electric shock, drug overdose, organ failure, industrial or chemical exposure, injury secondary to a TBI or CVA.

What is CVA?

A cerebrovascular accident, or a stroke, is the name given to an event leading to cell death in the brain caused through ischemia, or haemorrhage.

An ischemic CVA means that there is a lack of blood flow, which could be due to one of the following:

  • Thrombosis: a localised blood clot
  • Embolism: an intravascular mass (either a blood clot, or another obstruction) which has travelled
  • Systemic Hypoperfusion: decreased blood supply
  • Venous thrombosis: a specific blood clot which forms in the Dural venous sinuses – the vein channels that lie between layers of Dura Mater – and can drain the blood from the brain.

A haemorrhagic CVA means that there is bleeding in the brain. Either an intracranial haemorrhage – bleeding that occurs between layers of Mater and/or the skull. Or a cerebral haemorrhage – bleeding that occurs within the brain tissue.

The effects of ABI

The effects of an ABI will range from person to person depending on a number of factors: speed and efficacy of medical treatment; overall health of person; reliability of aftercare; underlying conditions or previous head injuries; and luck.

Brain injuries can affect your personality or your behaviour, both short-term and long-term. You could be left with cognitive problems, such as memory loss, or aphasia. Brain injuries can also affect you physically, perhaps through nerve damage, or even leaving you with a condition like epilepsy.

If you have suffered a brain injury, and you wish to seek legal advice as to whether you have a personal injury or negligence claim, the resources at the Free Legal Advice Centre could be just what you’re looking for.