Types of Brain Injury

Acquired brain injury can be caused by a whole variety of different means.  But however it happens the symptoms are caused because a part of the brain has either been damaged or destroyed.

The brain, along with the spinal cord and network of nerves, controls the information flow throughout the body, voluntary actions such as walking, reading, and talking, and involuntary reactions such as breathing and digestion.  In essence it is the computer that runs the body and controls everything we do.

The brain is divided into a number of different sections; the brain stem, the diencephalon, the cerebrum (which is divided into two cerebral hemispheres), and the cerebellum, and each section deals with a number of different functions.   The combination of symptoms which a person with a brain injury experiences therefore depends upon the part of the brain that has been damaged.  People with a brain injury have damaged different parts of the brain and that is why each one’s condition is unique.

Brain injury can be acquired from a number of different means, which can be described as:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI).  This is the most common cause of brain injury and occurs when someone receives a blow to the head, for example, from a fall, a road traffic accident, an assault or a sporting injury.  Boxers are often said to be ‘punchdrunk’, but their symptoms, such as slow cognitive functioning and slurred speech, are effectively due to an injury to the brain, received from persistent blows to the head.
  • Brain haemhorrage.  If not discovered early, the bleeding to the brain caused by a brain haemhorrage can result in significant pressure on the brain and consequent damage to brain cells.  In some cases the damage caused can be quite serious.
  • Brain tumour.  Again the pressure caused by a tumour will cause damage and the larger the tumour the more damage will be caused.  Inevitable brain injury may also result from the surgery which is undertaken to remove a tumour, even though surgeons do their very best to avoid such injury.
  • Stroke.  This is a form of brain injury which affects a very specific part of the brain, causing easily recognisable symptoms.
  • Hypoxia.  Brain injury is caused by hypoxia when the supply of blood to the brain, and therefore oxygen, is interrupted or restricted.  This can happen in a whole variety of ways, including carbon monoxide poisoning, excessive bleeding,  choking, suffocation, cardiac arrest, and as a complication of general anaesthesia. The longer the brain is deprived of oxygen the greater the damage that is caused.  That is usually why people who are in a persistent vegetative state are unable to function.
  • Disease.  Certain diseases, such as meningitis, veneral disease, AIDS and encephalopathy can cause irreparable damage to the brain.
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