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What are the differences between Acquired and Traumatic Brain Injuries?

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Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) are related in that a TBI is a type of ABI, but from a different perspective they’re technically different.

An ABI refers to any damage or injury to the brain that occurs after birth, but not necessarily caused by external physical trauma. Examples of ABI include stroke, brain tumors, anoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain), and infections such as meningitis or encephalitis.

On the other hand, a TBI is caused by an external physical force that results in brain damage. This can happen due to a blow to the head, a fall, a sports injury, or a car accident. TBIs can range from mild concussions to severe injuries that result in long-term disabilities or even death.

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. An acquired brain injury is the umbrella term for all brain injuries.

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

Traumatic Brain Injury

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). Examples of a TBI include:

  • Falls
  • Assaults
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Sports injuries

Non-Traumatic Brain Injury

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. Examples of NTBI include:

  • Stroke
  • Near-drowning
  • Aneurysm
  • Tumor
  • Infectious disease that affects the brain (i.e., meningitis)
  • Lack of oxygen supply to the brain (i.e., heart attack)