The medical community describes injuries that are not caused by genetic or congenital disorders as “acquired brain injuries.”
An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is sudden damage to the brain that occurs during a person’s lifetime. The two main types of ABI are Traumatic Brain Injury and Non-Traumatic Brain Injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
TBI results from damage to the brain caused by an impact to the head resulting from traffic accidents, falling from a height, trip-and-fall accidents, medical negligence and physical assault, for example. The three main types of TBI are:
- closed head injuries
- open or penetrating wounds
- crushing injuries
Brain injuries arising from accidents that cause greatest harm to the victim are:
- Hematoma: Caused by blood collecting and clotting outside the blood vessels and can be extremely serious if it occurs in the brain. The clotting can cause pressure to build up in the skull, resulting in a loss of consciousness.
- Concussion: Occurs when the brain bounces off the hard walls of the skull. Concussions are generally temporary in nature, but repeated concussions can lead to permanent damage.
- Oedema: Happens when the tissues surrounding the brain swell
- Skull fracture: A lack of bone marrow makes the skull difficult to break, so if it is broken, damage to the brain is likely.
- Diffuse Axonal Injury: The most serious of all brain injuries, diffuse axonal injury can lead to permanent, severe brain damage or even death.
The effects and severity of a brain injury can vary. Symptoms may include cognitive difficulties, memory loss, poor concentration, permanent brain damage, and physical disability.
Non-Traumatic Brain Injury (NTBI)
NTBI results from an illness or a condition within the body, rather than a blow to the head. Common causes include encephalitis, hypoxia, tumours, hydrocephalus, and vascular problems such as stroke, haemorrhage, or an aneurysm. NTBIs can also occur as a result of medical negligence.
Acquired Brain Injury and Medical Negligence
In the context of medical negligence litigation, acquired brain injuries refer to brain injuries that could have been prevented, or at least significantly reduced, if competent medical care had been provided by medical professionals.