Introduction to Brain Injury | Bolt Burdon Kemp Introduction to Brain Injury | Bolt Burdon Kemp

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Section #1

Introduction to Brain Injury

Brain injury describes any injury to the brain tissue. Brain Injuries can be traumatic (TBI) or acquired (ABI).


What's the difference between a Traumatic Brain Injury and an Acquired Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injuries occur as a result of a trauma, or repeated traumas to the head. Causes of traumatic brain injuries include road traffic accidents, accidents at work, accidents in public or private premises, sports injuries and assaults.

Acquired brain injuries are brain injuries caused by anything apart from trauma. Causes of acquired brain injury include hypoxic/anoxic brain injury (an injury due to an interruption to the oxygen supply to the brain) such as from a stroke, heart attack, severe asthma attack, or carbon monoxide poisoning. An increase in pressure on the brain can also cause acquired brain injury – this can be due to brain inflammation from an infection such as meningitis or encephalitis, hydrocephalus (increased fluid in the brain), tumours, brain haemorrhages and aneurysms. There are other causes of acquired brain injury, including specific vitamin deficiencies.

Our specialist brain injury solicitor, Deepti Patel, has written a blog on Managing employment after a brain injury. Click here to read more.


How severe can a brain injury be?

Brain injuries range in severity, from minor head injuries and concussions, to severe/catastrophic brain injuries.

  • A minor brain injury or concussion often results from some kind of bang on the head. The symptoms are often temporary and can include brief loss of consciousness, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, headaches and fatigue. In most cases of minor brain injury/concussion, symptoms will resolve within a few weeks. However, in some cases symptoms can persist for longer, and can occasionally result in permanent problems.
  • Moderate brain injuries can result from trauma, and are usually associated with a significant loss of consciousness and a period of post-traumatic amnesia. Moderate brain injuries can also be acquired, following a significant stroke, or brain inflammation from infection, for example. A person with a moderate brain injury is likely to suffer from a number of ongoing symptoms.
  • Severe or catastrophic brain injuries can result from trauma, and are usually associated with a longer loss of consciousness and post-traumatic amnesia. Severe brain injuries can also be acquired, for example, where blood flow to the brain has been restricted for a longer period of time because of a stroke or heart attack. In these situations, the person is likely to be hospitalised and need extensive rehabilitation.

What are some of the common ongoing symptoms of a brain injury?

There are a wide range of symptoms that may be ongoing after a brain injury. Symptoms can be physical, cognitive and emotional & psychological. Some of the common symptoms of brain injury are:

  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Concentration issues
  • Confusion
  • Problems with organisation and planning
  • Speech problems including word-finding problems
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Impulsivity
  • Lack of self-awareness
  • Pain, especially from headahes

This list is by no means exhaustive, and no brain injury is the same.

Brain injuries are sometimes described as ‘invisible injuries’ because it can be very difficult to tell if someone has had a brain injury from their outer appearance. This can lead to people who have had a brain injury being misunderstood. Increased awareness about brain injury and its consequences can assist in better understanding and respect for the challenges that those with brain injuries face.

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In Summary

Every person who has had a brain injury will be affected in their own individual way, and their circumstances need to be considered on an individual basis – there is no ‘one size fits all’.


We're here to help you.

We hope you find this guide useful, whether you are reading this from the perspective of an employer, or if you have had a brain injury and are contemplating returning to work after a brain injury.

If you would like to speak to a member of our brain injury team about an ‘employment after brain injury’ related query, please complete the contact form below, or give us a call on 020 3411 5839.

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