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August 19, 2019
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What Is the Difference Between Acquired Brain Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury?

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The two main types of brain injuries are traumatic and acquired. Both can be equally devastating to victims; the difference lies in how the injury occurred. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens from external forces, while an acquired brain injury (ABI) occurs internally. Any damage to the brain’s cells could cause long-lasting symptoms and effects. A victim may be able to partially or fully recover from either type of brain injury with proper medical care and a consistent treatment plan.

How Do Traumatic Brain Injuries Happen?

A traumatic brain injury can occur when the victim gets into an accident that compromises the head, skull or brain. Dangerous accidents such as car crashes or falls from scaffolds could lead to serious TBIs. A TBI can alter the way the brain functions due to damage sustained from an external force. A patient may never be able to fully recover from a TBI. Impacts to the head can jolt the brain and cause a traumatic injury, as can severe inertia exerted on the head or skull.

TBIs from blows to the head could force the brain to strike or bounce off the sides of the skull – potentially causing bruising, swelling or bleeding in the brain. A TBI involving inertia, however, works by moving the brain too swiftly or abruptly within the skull. Inertia-related brain injuries could damage or tear the tissues of the brain stem, resulting in serious symptoms. Rotational or angular forces, such as those in a car crash or from Shaken Baby Syndrome could cause a diffuse axonal injury, lesions or hemorrhage in the brain.

Closed vs. Open Traumatic Brain Injuries

A subset of TBI is closed vs. open brain injuries. A closed traumatic brain injury means the force that caused the injury did not penetrate or fracture the skull. The skull remained intact, but the brain still suffered an injury. An open head injury means an impact cracked, fractured or penetrated the skull. Both open and closed TBIs can be serious, but open brain injuries can come with additional concerns such as scarring and infections. Common causes of closed TBIs include falls, car accidents and sports accidents, while open TBIs often stem from assaults.

What Causes Acquired Brain Injuries?

Acquired brain injuries are non-traumatic, meaning they damage the brain with something other than external forces. Internal issues – either those occurring naturally within the brain or those from external sources – could cut off the brain’s supply of oxygen or blood. Internal insult could severely reduce critical blood or oxygen flow to the point of causing a permanent injury. An internal injury could also cause a brain hemorrhage due to blood clots.

  • Asphyxiation
  • Birth injuries
  • Brain aneurysm
  • Drowning
  • Electrical shock
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Hypoxia or anoxia (lack of oxygen)
  • Strangulation
  • Stroke
  • Suffocation
  • Tumor or disease

Some ABIs occur naturally, through something such as a stroke. Others, however, stem from someone else’s negligence. A medical mistake during childbirth, for example, could lead to a lack of oxygen supply to the infant’s brain. This could cause a serious acquired brain injury to the baby. As with a TBI, the outcome of an ABI will depend on many different factors, from the severity of the injury to how well the patient takes to treatments.

Recovery From TBI or ABI

A patient’s recovery from a traumatic or acquired brain injury will depend on his or her as an individual. Preexisting conditions, health status, determination and quality of care are all factors that could affect a patient’s brain injury recovery. The brain could fully heal from both types of injuries or it could suffer lasting damage. A patient’s prognosis depends on many different factors.

Financial recovery may also be available for TBI and ABI victims in Florida. If someone else’s negligence or wanton disregard caused the brain injury, the at-fault party could be financially indebted to the victim. A patient could receive a settlement or jury award for a serious traumatic or acquired brain injury.

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