What is a non-traumatic brain injury?
Non-traumatic brain injury (also commonly referred to as an acquired brain injury or ABI) causes damage to the brain by internal factors, such as a lack of oxygen, exposure to toxins, or pressure from a tumor. In this instance, “traumatic” refers to the cause of the injury, not in the psychological sense. Non-traumatic brain injuries can still result in psychological trauma.
What causes a non-traumatic brain injury?
There are many different ways to sustain a non-traumatic brain injury. These include:
- Stroke: A stroke occurs when clots, plaque, or other particles block the blood supply to part of the brain, or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. In either case, parts of the brain become damaged or die. A stroke can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or even death. Learn more about stroke and preventing a stroke.
- Lack of oxygen to the brain: Any event that causes oxygen to be cut off from the brain can cause a non-traumatic brain injury. Near-drowning, overdoses, and carbon monoxide poisoning are just a few examples of how this can happen. When the brain is cut off from oxygen, it will result in a hypoxic or anoxic brain injury. This type of brain injury has its own set of symptoms and effects. Learn more about hypoxia and anoxia here.
- Brain aneurysm: A brain aneurysm occurs when a weakened blood vessel in the brain expands to the point that it can burst. Aneurysms can cause a brain injury whether the expanded blood vessel bursts or not. When the vessel expands, it can put pressure on areas of the brain that can cause an injury.
- Infectious disease that affects the brain: Certain diseases like meningitis can attack the brain and cause health complications, including acquired brain injury.
There are a wide range of symptoms of non-traumatic brain injury. While no two survivors will experience the same set of symptoms, there are some that are more common than others. Here are some common symptoms of non-traumatic brain injury:
- Vision changes
- Poor coordination
- Difficulty speaking