Knowing more about acquired brain injury in general – and strokes in particular – can be helpful in understanding an individual’s treatment options.
Brain injury is an injury that disrupts the brain’s normal functioning. Acquired brain injury is an umbrella term for any injury to the brain that occurs after the birthing process. Strokes are the result of an interruption of blood flow to the brain. The damage a brain endures from experiencing a stroke is considered covered under the broad classification of an acquired brain injury.
A traumatic brain injury occurs when an external force causes the brain to move inside the skull A blow to the head, a fall, a car crash or any other external force can cause a traumatic brain injury and results in direct physical damage to the brain. And, because it occurs after birth, also falls under the umbrella of acquired brain injury.
What Happens to the Brain During a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when the brain’s blood supply gets interrupted. A stroke can be ischemic or hemorrhagic.
Ischemic strokes, which are more common, occur when an artery is restricted, blocking oxygen to brain tissue. Blood vessels in the brain can become narrowed or blocked when a build-up of fatty deposits or other debris travel through the bloodstream and lodge in cerebral arteries.
Hemorrhagic strokes occur due to a leaking or ruptured blood vessel in the brain. This type of stroke is less common than an ischemic stroke but can occur due to a variety of factors such as:
- Excessive use of blood thinners
- High blood pressure
Any stroke can lead to physical, emotional and/or cognitive changes in a person.
Blood and the Brain
The brain receives blood from internal carotid arteries and vertebral arteries, which keeps the brain functioning and healthy. When these arteries become obstructed, blood supply is compromised, and when a stroke occurs, brain tissue is damaged from a lack of oxygen and nutrients.
The damage that is sustained from the blood supply blockage is what causes the acquired brain injury as brain cells rapidly die when deprived of blood and oxygen.
What Does This Mean for Stroke Survivors?
With a portion of the brain affected by an acquired brain injury, stroke survivors may discover they’re unable to do certain tasks that were once routine. This can range from forgetting the route home from work to forgetting how to walk or talk. This is because the synaptic connections that were once made to complete these tasks are now broken due to the ABI.
The impact of the acquired brain injury on the survivor depends largely on a few factors:
- The area of the brain in which the acquired brain injury occurred.
- The length of time the survivor went before treatment was obtained.
- The severity of the stroke.
Does a Brain Injury Change a Person’s Personality?
It’s important for stroke survivors to understand that an acquired brain injury can indeed change their personality. ABI survivors have high instances of depression and anxiety, and this should be considered as part of a full treatment protocol. Recovering from an acquired brain injury may merit therapy or additional medications.
It’s also important to note that recovering from an acquired brain injury and stroke can be difficult and, at times, isolating. Stroke survivors should be encouraged to talk to someone they trust about their feelings and to not be afraid to seek out additional help.
Treatment for Acquired Brain Injury
One question most stroke survivors have is can I recover from an acquired brain injury?
Strokes have varying effects on survivors.
Long-term effects of an acquired brain injury can be difficult to predict and will vary from person to person. A stroke may affect a person’s behavior, speech, cognitive function and physical abilities.
Recovery depends on the affected part of the brain and the extent of damage. Age and general health will also play a role. Regardless, an acquired brain injury will likely call for adjustments in the life of the individual and the people in their personal support system. Recovery expectations are highly variable, so an individualized treatment plan is essential.
So, what does such specialized care look like? A treatment plan may include:
- Exercises to rebuild motor skill function, strength and endurance
- Re-learning movements through mobility training
- Range-of-motion therapy
- Speech and occupational therapy
The many different therapy modalities available are intended to help the individual regain skills that were lost when a stroke impacted their brain health. The earlier an intense rehabilitation course begins, the higher the likelihood that lost skills and abilities will be regained.
Acquired Brain Injury Help for Stroke Survivors
Rehabilitation can make a tremendous difference for people who’ve experienced an acquired brain injury. At QLI, we understand that great rehabilitation not only restores function, but rebuilds confidence – and lives.
Our services are focused on individualized medical and physical rehabilitation to provide adaptive support and balanced healing. We understand the complex needs of stroke survivors who are trying to regain full functioning after their acquired brain injury.
If you have questions regarding stroke recovery, feel free to reach out to us here today. We’re here to provide any information you need to help you navigate this journey.