An ABI is damage to the brain since birth, there may be a number of reasons for this including Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), which is trauma to the brain as a result of an assault, road traffic accident or a fall. Other causes of ABI include non traumatic injuries such as stroke, brain tumours, infection, poisoning, hypoxia, ischemia, encephalopathy or substance abuse. The brain is responsible for controlling our body’s functions; if it is damaged then this will affect these functions. Each brain injury affects the brain in a
different way, meaning symptoms will be different for each person; they could include difficulties with:

  • Memory

  • Concentration

  • Attention

  • Visual perception

  • Aphasia

  • Motivation
  • Information processing

  • Insight

  • Empathy

  • Planning and organisation

  • Flexible thinking

  • Perseveration

  • Monitoring performance

  • Multi-tasking
  • Solving unusual problems

  • Visual perception

  • Self-awareness

  • Learning rules

  • Social behaviour

  • Making decisions

  • Motivation

  • Initiating appropriate behaviour

  • Inhibiting inappropriate behaviour

  • Controlling emotions

  • Retaining information


  • Mobility

  • Spasticity

  • Weakness

  • Ataxia

  • Sensory impairment

  • Fatigue

  • Speech

  • Epilepsy

  • Hemiplegia


  • personality changes

  • Mood swings

  • Emotional lability

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • PTSD

  • Anger

  • Disinhibition

  • Impulsiveness

  • Obsessive behaviour


Impairments in functioning will vary depending on the type of brain injury and the part of the brain it impacts on, as different areas of the brain are responsible for different tasks. A brain injury can impact upon all aspects of activities of daily living (ADL) for example an individual could experience difficulties with:


  • Dressing

  • Washing

  • Bathing/showering

  • Feeding

  • Toileting


  • Shopping

  • Cooking

  • Cleaning

  • Laundry

  • Seeking employment

  • Maintaining employment

  • Banking

  • Paying bills

  • Driving

  • Gardening


  • Sport

  • Socialising

  • Maintaining friendships

  • Attending shows/theatre/concerts

This list is not exhaustive but demonstrates the wide range of activities which an ABI impacts on.


Here at Manchester Occupational Therapy Services we would aim to put together a comprehensive, client focused, holistic rehabilitation package. The Occupational Therapist will conduct an interview with the individual to gain an understanding of who they were pre brain injury. The Occupational Therapist will then work closely with the individual to assess how their physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioural impairments affect their performance (Kearney et al, 2007).

Treatment programmes may include:

  • Rehabilitating physical deficits

  • Recommend aids and adaptations

  • 24/7 posture management

  • Improve ADL function

  • Train support workers/family

  • Cognitive rehabilitation

  • Implement memory aids

  • Improve weekly structure

  • Vocational rehabilitation

  • Consider assistive technology

Following a brain injury, the brain is able to restructure its neurological pathways allowing for successful rehabilitation; this process is based on the phenomenon called neuroplasticity (Nudo, 2013).
Headway. (2016). Types of Brain Injury. Available from: https://www.headway.org.uk/about-brain-injury/individuals/types-of-brain-injury/ P., McGowan, T., Anderson, J., Strosahl, D. (2007). The Role of the Occupational Therapist on the Neuro-Rehabilitation Team. Acquired Brain Injury: An Integrative Neuro-Rehabilitation Approach. Online ISBN: 978-0-387-37575-5
Nudo, R. J. (2013). Recovery after brain injury: mechanisms and principles. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 7: 887.

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