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OBIA is making the “invisible” visible by increasing understanding of brain injury and reducing the stigma associated with having a brain injury.

The ABCs of Brain Injury

An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is damage to the brain that occurs after birth from a traumatic or non-traumatic event.  ABI is not related to a congenital disorder or degenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBIis damage to the brain caused by a traumatic event such as a blow to the head, a fall, a motor vehicle or sports related injury.

Non-Traumatic Brain Injury is damage to the brain caused by illness such as meningitis or encephalitis, oxygen deprivation (anoxia) or stroke.

A Concussion is a Brain Injury which can be caused by a sudden acceleration of the head and neck resulting from a blow or contact to the body. You do not need to lose consciousness to have sustained a concussion. Concussions can occur from many different activities including falls, assault, motor vehicle collisions, sports or being struck by an object. Symptoms can appear immediately or, in some cases, days following the initial injury. 

Informational Video


View more concussion information here

After sustaining an ABI, many different symptoms or changes may be observed.  While every ABI is unique, combinations of the following symptoms or changes are common.

Common symptoms & changes


  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Difficulty or inability to walk
  • Weakness of difficulty moving arms and legs
  • Abnormal muscle tone
  • Changes in sensation (i.e. areas of numbness & tingling or areas that are overly sensitive)
  • Decreased energy and endurance
  • Problems with fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping (i.e. Sleep very little, get days & nights mixed up, etc.)
  • Changes in hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting
  • Light and sound sensitivity, ringing in ears, dizziness, light headed feeling
  • Changes in appetite, either not hungry or very hungry
  • Swallowing problem
  • Chronic pain, including headaches
  • Increased sensitivity to caffeine, alcohol and other drugs
  • Possible seizure activity


  • Disorientation to time, place or person
  • Poor concentration, easily distracted, unable to stay on topic
  • Memory problems
  • Slowed thinking and slower to respond
  • Difficulty with reasoning, reaching logical conclusions and judgement
  • Mind gets stuck on one issue
  • Difficulty keeping track of two or more things at once and following a sequence
  • Problems planning, organizing, problem solving, making decisions and initiating tasks
  • Needs direction and structure to accomplish tasks
  • Problems with pacing activities
  • Acts on impulse
  • Difficulty dealing with change
  • Lack of awareness, insight into problems and/or lack of acceptance
  • Lack of flexibility in thinking i.e. rigid thinking


  • Difficulty speaking (forming words)
  • Difficulty understanding words/conversation
  • Inability to write
  • Problems reading and understanding what was read
  • Unable to stay on topic
  • Problems thinking of the right words
  • Difficulty expressing ideas in a concise way


  • Can be irritable or easily frustrated
  • More sensitive to stress
  • Depression
  • Lack of facial expression
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Emotional lability i.e. crying for no apparent reason
  • Withdrawn from family and friends
  • Poor coping skills
  • Feeling of grief and loss


  • Hard to ‘keep up’ in social situations
  • May be inappropriate – emotionally, behaviourally, sexually
  • Self-centeredness; childish behaviour
  • Personality changes i.e. no longer outgoing
  • Changes and difficulties with relationships, especially family members
  • May be impulsive
  • Compulsive talking


  • Decrease or inability to do the following:
  • Self-care tasks
  • Household management tasks
  • Drive a car
  • Work or return to work
  • Be involved in a previous social and/or hobby activities

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Thank you to our Corporate Champion, Wright Rehab. Your support allows us to continue to provide Brain Injury information on our website.

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