Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)

Acquired brain injury (ABI)

An acquired brain injury (ABI) is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth, which is not hereditary, congenital (present at birth) or degenerative (slowly deteriorating).

A person with a suspected ABI should contact a physician immediately, go to the emergency room or call 911.

An ABI may result in mild, moderate or severe problems in one or more areas, including:

Cognition (thinking)



Attention and concentration


Muscle coordination


Causes of ABI

Injury from ABI can affect cells throughout the entire brain, not just in specific areas with TBI.

Causes of ABI can Include, but are not limited to:

Airway obstruction

Near-drowning, throat swelling, chocking, strangulation, crush injuries to the chest

Electrical shock or lightning shock

Trauma to the head and/or neck

TBl with or without skull, fracture, blood loss from open wounds, artery impingement from forceful impact, shock

Heart attack, stroke


Infectious disease

Meningitis, certain venereal diseases, AIDS, insect-carried diseases, brain tumors, seizure disorders

Toxic exposure: poisonous chemicals and gases, such as carbon monoxide poisoning

Types of ABI

Anoxic Brain Injury or Hypoxic Brain Injury

Anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain does not receive any oxygen. Cells in the brain need oxygen to survive and function. Hypoxic brain injury occurs from a reduced level of oxygen to the brain.

Types of Anoxic or Hypoxic Brain Injury
Anoxic anoxia: Brain injury from no oxygen supplied to the brain.

Anemic anoxia: Brain injury from blood that does not carry enough oxygen.

Toxic anoxia: Brain injury from toxins or metabolites that block oxygen in the blood from being used.

Hypoxic ischemic brain injury (aka stagnant hypoxia or ischemic insult): Brain injury occurs from a lack of blood flow to the brain because of a critical reduction in blood flow or blood pressure.

Symptoms of ABI

Most symptoms of ABls are similar to those of TBls; however, people with ABls tend to experience symptoms more frequently and to a greater degree than people with TBls.

Cognitive impairment: thinking skills, memory

Longer length of time spent in a vegetative state

Severe behavior problems: depression, restlessness, hostility

Muscle movement disorders

Information on this website is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or examination.