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A person following a brain injury may suddenly find it difficult to do many of the things they used to do and the family may feel like they no longer recognise their loved one. Either way you are not alone.

In the UK each year around I million people attend hospital with a head injury. Mercifully most walk away with few outward signs of injury and usually recover within a few days or weeks. However some 10,000 victims are unconscious for up to 6 hours, receiving moderate brain damage with problems likely to last for five years or more. A similar number will be unconscious for longer – maybe months – incurring major brain damage and lower prospect of ever returning to work.

Partners, parents, children and others must adjust to living with a ‘different person’ and their sudden, unexpected new role of carer with its many demands on their time and energies.

In order for the brain injured person and the family to move forward it is important to start by learning to understand the effects of brain injury and get the right help and support as early as possible.


  • the major causes of head injury are road traffic accidents, accidents during leisure pursuits or at work, falls, and assaults.

  • Around 135,000 people are admitted to hospital each year as a consequence of brain injury.

  • Head injury is the foremost cause of death and disability in young people.

  • Every year, more than a million people attend hospital A&E departments in the UK following a head injury.

  • Approximately 50% of deaths in people under 40 are due to head injury.

  • Males are two or three times more likely to have a brain injury than females. This increases to five times more likely in the 15 – 29 age range.

  • Due to advances in medical knowledge and surgical techniques more people are now surviving severe head injury. In 1970- 90% of people with severe head injury died; now 90% survive. Many have a full life expectancy and will need ongoing support & care.

  • It is estimated that across the UK there are over 500,000 people (aged 16-74) living with disabilities as the result of head injury.

  • Amongst children, cycling accidents account for around 20%.

  • As many as 75 per cent of mild brain injuries go unreported and undiagnosed by medical professionals.

  • Some 90% of those receiving a severe brain injury make a good physical recover.

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is an injury caused to the brain since birth.


There are many possible causes:-

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – usually resulting from a fall, a road traffic accident or other physical blow to the head

  • A brain injury occurred through natural causes are difficult to predict or avoid such as

    • Stroke

    • Tumour

    • Haemorrhage

    • Aneurysm

    • Viral infection

The effects of the BI will also vary according to:
  • The cause of the brain injury

  • The force of the impact

  • Length of time between injury and start of medical treatment/rehabilitation

  • Patients pre-injury mental/physical health/age etc

  • The patients culture/social background

  • Pathology of disease


Categories usually used to classify severity are:  mild, moderate and severe brain injury.



No two people are affected in quite the same way and each have unique physical, intellectual, emotional or social problems.

Find out more


Acquired brain injury explained

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The effects of brain injury


The brain injury journey

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The effects on the family

Writing on a Paper

Personal Stories

"It has taken me some time to come to terms with my brain injury, but with the support and training from Headway, I now feel I understand why I have changed and how to move forwards with my life again"

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