What is a Brain Injury?

Brain injuries can range from mild to catastrophic or even fatal, have multiple causes and a host of possible outcomes, and may require specialized diagnosis and treatment. Everyone is susceptible, too, as they affect age groups from infants to the elderly. The bottom line is that brain injury is complex and its manifestations – typically not physically visible or apparent — are often unique to the individual. The encouraging news is that recent activity in scientific and medical research on brain injury has resulted in a wave of innovative and promising diagnostic, pharmaceutical, rehabilitative, and even preventive options, providing hope and optimism for survivors and their families.

Types of Brain Injury and Causes

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)

The broadest category, Acquired Brain Injury (ABI), includes brain damage caused by events after birth, rather than injury resulting from a genetic or congenital disorder such as fetal alcohol syndrome, pre-birth illness or hypoxia (lack of oxygen), or as part of a degenerative condition such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a subset of Acquired Brain Injury, but is usually considered separately due to its high incidence and complexity in terms of individual diagnosis and treatment. TBI refers to blows, jolts, or injuries to the head, with the latter ranging from gunshot wounds to sudden acceleration and deceleration, strong rotational forces, and others.

While the Brain Injury Association of Michigan aims to provide information, resources, and support for all brain injury survivors and families, much of the following content is directed at audiences interested in and affected by TBI.

Why Focus on TBI?
A number of reasons account for this focus, including the fact that many more Americans are affected by TBI, about 2.5 million annually, than by any other single cause of ABI (excluding TBI, estimates of all other forms of ABI number 1 million annually). Additionally, a significant portion of the work of the Brain Association of Michigan, as that of our national organization, the Brain Injury Association of America, is focused on legislative advocacy, and the policy issues affecting TBI are often very different than those affecting ABI. Finally, and most importantly, while there are excellent online organizations and resources dealing with other kinds of Acquired Brain Injury, we believe we achieve our greatest impact through serving the historically underserved community of TBI survivors, families, and the professional brain injury community.
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