An Acquired Brain Injury is damage to the brain which occurs after birth and is not related to a congenital or a degenerative disease. These impairments may be temporary or permanent and cause partial or functional disability or psychological maladjustment (World Health Organisation, Geneva 1996).

Causes of Acquired Brain Injury

Cause of Injury


Trauma (Traumatic Brain Injury / TBI)

An external physical force impacting on the brain.

  • A TBI might be caused by a road traffic accident, fall, assault, sporting accident, gunshot wound or violent shaking (including non-accidental injury).


An invasion of the brain by bacteria or viruses  which multiple causing an adverse reaction in the tissues for example inflammation

  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Toxic shock  / sepsis
  • Sub-dural and cerebral abscess


An ingestion of a substance which depresses heart rate or breathing, which then starves the brain of oxygen

  • Hypoxic brain damage associated with carbon monoxide inhalation


An abnormal mass of tissue in the brain caused by the abnormal growth or division of cells. Brain damage associated with neoplasms are sometimes caused indirectly through their treatment
  • Brain tumours (both malignant and benign)


The malformations of blood vessels supplying the brain, or interruptions of blood circulation due to clots. This can result in damage to the brain when not supplied with enough oxygen

  • Arterio venous malformation (AVM)
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysm
  • Venous thrombosis


A range of disorders / difficulties in how the body breaks down, converts and transports nutrients that have the potential to interrupt and impair the brain’s functions, leading to an ABI

  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
  • Electrolyte abnormalities
  • Inborn errors of metabolism
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Hormonal abnormalities (thyroid, adrenal, pituitary)
  • Uraemic encephalopathy

Hypoxia / anoxia

An interruption of the supply of oxygen to the brain due to external or internal factors, which can result in an ABI


  •           Complications during cardiac surgery
  •          Hypothermia/Hyperthermia
  •          Near drowning
  •          Partial strangulation
  •          Seizures