Acquired brain injury

A doctor reviewing a brain scan

Brain injury in childhood has many different causes. If the damage occurs after birth, it is known as an acquired brain injury (ABI).

Acquired brain injuries involve an injury to the brain and can be caused by infections around the brain, strokes or events causing a lack of oxygen to the brain.

ABI includes traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and concussion that happens after a knock to the head from things like falls, traffic accidents, or sporting injuries.

Brain injury can affect a child’s senses, movement, eating and swallowing. It can also impact concentration, attention, memory, speech, language, behaviour and emotions.

Some children will have temporary symptoms while others are permanent. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the injury. 

Each child's recovery will take different lengths of time; learning to live with an ABI can be a long and difficult process. Ongoing research aims to improve the lives of children who have sustained an ABI.

A doctor reviewing a brain scan

Who does it affect?

Who does it affect?

Our acquired brain injury research

Our acquired brain injury research

Our group, including researchers, service providers and educators, aims to share knowledge about interventions and outcomes for children with ABI.

Studies on ABI are investigating areas including mental health, parent and child-based interventions, social function, and long-term outcomes.

We are trialling programs to reduce anxiety, thinking and reasoning difficulties and manage behaviour.

Up to one in five children with ABI develop attention deficits and a program that improved attention, memory and everyday functioning is being trialled online. We are investigating whether a game-based program can strengthen attention and if computer activities can improve memory and decision-making.

Focusing on mild TBI and concussion the long-term difficulties can include fatigue, poor concentration, headache and irritability. We found one-third develop a mental health condition including depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress after a concussion, and are pushing for mental health to be part of paediatric concussion assessment and management. Another study aims to enhance the understanding of mental health outcomes after mild TBI.

Concussion accounts for most mild TBI. Our research on childhood stroke and concussion aims to improve the management of child concussion, detect those at risk for delayed recovery and develop treatments. We are investigating a physiotherapy/psychology-based concussion intervention.

Our vision

Our vision

Our vision is better diagnosis, management and treatment of brain injury, enabling improved recovery and fewer impacts on the brains and lives of affected children

Where to next?

Where to next?

Current research is focused on interventions, to improve mental health outcomes and quality of life after ABI. We are working with families with lived experience to help improve our models of care.