What Is The Difference Between An Acquired Brain Injury And Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and acquired brain injuries (ABIs) are closely related. They both refer to brain injuries that occur post-birth. Conditions that are present at birth or are progressive in nature (Parkinson’s disease) are not considered ABIs or TBIs.
While similar, there is a distinction between the two types of brain injuries. TBIs are injuries to the brain caused by an external force. ABIs are a broader category of brain injuries; they include injuries to the brain caused either by an external force or as a result of stroke or other illness that affects the brain. Although many people use the terms interchangeably, TBIs are actually a subcategory of ABIs.
Defining Traumatic Brain Injuries
The Brain Injury Network has researched and published extensive information and commentary about the difficulties that leading brain injury associations have in making a distinction between the terms ABI and TBI. According to the BIN, the Department of Defense’s (USA) Traumatic Brain Injury: Definition and Reporting memo provides a good definition of traumatic brain injury.
The definition states: “A traumatically induced structural injury and/or physiological disruption of brain function as a result of an external force that is indicated by new onset or worsening of at least one of the following clinical signs, immediately following the event:
- Any period of loss of or a decreased level of consciousness
- Any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the injury
- Any alternation in mental state at the time of the injury (confusion, disorientation, slowed thinking, etc.)
- Neurological deficits (weakness, loss of balance, change in vision, praxis, paresis/plegia, sensory loss, aphasia, etc.) that may or may not be transient
- Intracranial lesion
Examples of external forces include being struck by an object, the head slamming against an object, a slip and fall accident, the brain undergoing an acceleration/deceleration movement, a foreign object penetrating the brain, an explosion, etc.
Defining Acquired Brain Injuries
The BIN provides the following succinct definition of an acquired brain injury: “An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth, but is not related to congenital defect or degenerative disease.”
Some of the possible causes of ABIs are listed below.
- External forces (such as above)
- Illness or infection
- Exposure to toxic chemicals or substances
- Effects of substance abuse
Getting Legal Help for an ABI or TBI Claim
Both ABIs and TBIs can cause temporary or permanent total or partial disability. A brain injury can affect sufferers not only physically, but also cognitively, emotionally and financially. It can affect every aspect of their lives, including their relationships, jobs, sense of happiness in life and their future. They are truly life-altering injuries.
When someone suffers an ABI or TBI that another party caused, the victim has the right to file a claim for damages. Victims (or their families on their behalf) should consult a local lawyer to learn how to take legal action.