Skip to Content
About Brain Injury

Brain Injury Overview

An acquired brain injury (ABI) is an injury to the brain that is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. Essentially, this type of brain injury is one that has occurred after birth. The injury results in a change to the brain’s neuronal activity, which affects the physical integrity, metabolic activity, or functional ability of nerve cells in the brain.

There are two types of acquired brain injury: traumatic and non-traumatic.

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force. Traumatic impact injuries can be defined as closed (or non-penetrating) or open (penetrating).

Often referred to as an acquired brain injury, a non-traumatic brain injury causes damage to the brain by internal factors, such as a lack of oxygen, exposure to toxins, pressure from a tumor, etc. Read on for an overview of some of the common causes of brain injury.

Traumatic Brain Injury Causes Non-Traumatic Brain Injury Causes
  • Falls
  • Assaults
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents
  • Sports/Recreation Injuries
  • Abusive Head Trauma (Shaken Baby Syndrome)
  • Gunshot Wounds
  • Workplace Injuries
  • Child Abuse
  • Domestic Violence
  • Military Actions (Blast Injury)
  • Stroke (Hemorrhage, Blood Clot)
  • Infectious Disease
  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Seizure
  • Electric Shock
  • Tumors
  • Metabolic Disorders
  • Neurotoxic Poisoning (Carbon Monoxide, Lead Exposure)
  • Lack of Oxygen (Drowning, Choking, Hypoxic/Anoxic Injury)
  • Drug Overdose

While the list above is certainly not exhaustive, it includes many of the most common causes of injury. Click through the “Continue Reading” sections below to learn more about injury severity, terms you might hear at the hospital, and what to expect after a brain injury.

For personalized support and resources, contact BIAA’s National Brain Injury Information Center at 1-800-444-6443 or email us at info@biausa.org. You can also visit the Frequently Asked Questions of our website for more information.

Speak to a Brain Injury Expert

Caring professionals at the National Brain Injury Information Center (NBIIC) are ready to answer your questions.

Dial 1-800-444-6443

Join Our Monthly Giving Program and Become a BIAA Amplifier. Text describing how your gift sustains our services.

Become a BIAA Amplifier by making a monthly donation in support of brain injury services and research.

Your monthly donation means, together, we will help more people.