Causes of acquired brain injury

Acquired brain injury (ABI) can be caused by:

  • trauma, such as head injury in a car accident
  • lack of oxygen, such as asthma or a near-miss drowning
  • infection, such as meningitis or encephalitis
  • stroke
  • tumour
  • severe bleeding
  • poisoning.

Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery can also result in injury to the brain.

Features of acquired brain injury

Acquired brain injury (ABI) can affect:

  • senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste
  • coordination and balance
  • eating or swallowing
  • memory, thinking and learning
  • speech
  • behaviour
  • personality.

After an ABI, some children might be left paralysed, which is when they lose control of the muscles in part of their body.

In some cases, they might have seizures.

Children with ABI can be affected in a mild way or in severe way.

Living with acquired brain injury

A child with acquired brain injury (ABI) can feel quite upset by the associated health problems and impairments. Getting over an ABI and learning to live with it can be a long, difficult process.

It can also be hard for the whole family to cope with, especially if the child’s personality or behaviour has been affected.

But the good news is that most children with ABI improve with treatment and make progress daily.

Support and treatment for children with acquired brain injury

Usually, there is a large team of health professionals who can help support the whole family when a child has acquired brain injury (ABI).

If your child has ABI, you and your child might work with some or all of the following health professionals:


If you need advice about acquired brain injury or services for your child with an acquired brain injury, contact the relevant organisation in your state or territory. You can find a list of service organisations on the Brain Injury Australia services webpage.