Acquired Brain Injury

An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain tissue or nerve fibres that is permanent in nature and results in some impairment to an individual’s physical, behavioural or emotional function. It may be acquired through an accident; infection or disease; poisoning through alcohol, drug or household chemicals; or other causes such as stroke, coma, epilepsy, aneurism, or depleted oxygen supply.

The onset of the brain injury can be sudden:- due to trauma, infection, stroke, lack of oxygen or drug use episodes, or insidious: due to prolonged alcohol or substance abuse, tumours or degenerative neurological conditions.

The effects of the injury can be mild to profound, and each individual can be affected in the varying ways, including:

  • Physical – paralysis, poor balance, coordination or limb weakness;
  • Sensory – impaired sight, touch, smell, taste or body temperature control;
  • Thinking – concentration, planning ability, or problem solving and memory;
  • Communication – ability to speak clearly or quickly; and
  • Behaviour – readily fatigued, lack of control over behaviour, poor initiative, motivation and mood changes.

Programming Considerations

  • Step by step instructions and be patient.
  • Write down the sequence of an activity.
  • Plan for breaks in activities.
  • Balance may often be affected therefore the participant cannot or will not think they can ride, skateboard, surf or get involved in activities requiring balance.
  • Plan and program for the levels of fatigue that participant may experience.
  • Plan for lack of motivation that may sometimes be evident.
  • Make sure you get to know a bit about the participant prior to the start of the program.

Behaviour Management Issues

  • For memory problems use photos to recall and write down events.
  • To counteract fatigue ask individuals what time of day is best for activities.
  • Be aware how medication affects individuals.
  • Discuss why some behaviour is inappropriate, provide clear consequences of misbehaviour and be consistent and clear.
  • Do not pretend to understand if you do not and establish how the participant communicates.
  • Time out is an effective strategy that allows them to think about their behaviour.
  • Encourage participation, spend time to develop rapport and get to know what they like or dislike.

Further information –