A brain injury affects not only the person injured but the whole family. Consequences of brain injuries can range from quite subtle to very significant personality and behavioural changes. As a result, relationships with families and friends can be put under strain.

An increased dependency of people with an acquired brain injury on caregivers is not uncommon. With few support services currently available for carers, caregivers and family members often find themselves feeling isolated. This can lead to the development of stress-related symptoms such as anxiety and depression. ABI Ireland is committed to looking after the carer.

To that end, we would like to reassure you that the cornerstone of our approach to neuro-rehabilitation is the Individual Rehabilitation Plan (IRP), which puts the person living with the acquired brain injury as well as his or her family at the centre of the treatment. Read more about the IRP here.

What is an ABI

An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth. Brian injury commonly results in life-long challenges, including a range of physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioural changes. The term ABI includes traumatic and non-traumatic brain injuries, such as those caused by:

  • Road traffic accidents
  • Stroke
  • Trip/fall
  • Assault
  • Aneurysm
  • Viral infection ( e.g. encephalitis, meningitis)
  • Brain haemorrhage
  • Concussion
  • Tumour 
  • Seizures
  • Anoxia /Lack of Oxygen to the brain (e.g. drowning) 


An ABI may result in mild, moderate or severe impairments in one or more of the following areas: 

  • Sensory and Motor functions – e.g. seeing, hearing, movement, balancing, sitting, walking
  • Cognition – e.g. attention (concentration) memory, reasoning, concrete and abstract thinking 
  • Communication – e.g. voice, speech, comprehension and expression of spoken and written language, pragmatics and non-verbal communication 
  • Psychosocial and Executive Skills – e.g. social skills, planning, initiating, censoring, monitoring and managing appropriate behaviours, controlling emotions and behaviours


Any of these impairments can affect a person’s ability to control their own lives and live independently. They can also cause major stress in peer and family relationships as well as in educational and employment settings 

Signs and symptoms

The signs can be subtle. The person you know may look the same as they always did but they may act or feel differently.

Check for the following common symptoms or signs:

  • Headaches
  • Difficulty remembering, concentrating or making decisions
  • Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting or reading
  • Getting lost or easily confused
  • Feeling tired all the time – having no energy or motivation
  • Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason)
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Light-headedness, dizziness or loss of balance
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound
  • Distractions
  • Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Ringing in the ears

How can I help?

Be patient

Keep in mind, your loved one may be disoriented and confused for some time. He or she will begin to compensate for some of their deficits in time.

Give them support

Use a buddy system when trying a new activity. Offer support and adjust the level of support to accommodate their current abilities and skills.

Get counselling for your and your family

Everyone can benefit from counselling services. Counselling may help alleviate a variety of built-up emotions, feelings and thoughts.

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