What is an Acquired Brain Injury?

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is also sometimes referred to as non-traumatic brain injury. As defined by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), an acquired brain injury (ABI) is an injury to the brain, which is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth. The injury results in a change to the brain's neuronal activity, which affects the physical integrity, metabolic activity, or functional ability of nerve cells in the brain. There are two types of acquired brain injury: traumatic and non-traumatic.

Examples of ABI include:

  • stroke
  • near drowning
  • aneurysm
  • tumor
  • infectious disease that affects the brain (i.e., meningitis)
  • lack of oxygen supply to the brain (i.e., heart attack)

These injuries produce a wide variety of symptoms that range from moderate to severe. In most cases, the cause of the injury is readily apparent, with symptoms beginning shortly after the initial injury. For some ABI survivors though symptoms only appear months or years later, and may be intermittent and unpredictable.

What is the difference between Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)?

As defined by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is defined as an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force.

Examples of a TBI include:

  • falls
  • assaults
  • motor vehicle accidents
  • sports injuries


Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA)

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