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Brain injury, or brain damage is when part of the brain is seriously injured. The brain controls everything else in the body so when it is injured, other parts of the body may work differently. The effect will depend on which part of the brain is injured.

What is it like for siblings if their brother or sister has a brain injury?

Many siblings have very good relationships with their brothers and sisters who have brain injuries. However, they may find it hard if their brothers and sisters’  personalities change after having an accident or a serious illness. Siblings may also find it difficult to understand how the brain injury affects them.

What causes a brain injury?

The most common causes of brain injury are things that happen inside the body, like not enough oxygen getting to a person’s brain. This may happen before a baby is born. It might also be caused by things that happen outside the body, like when a person’s head is badly hurt. Some illnesses like meningitis and encephalitis or a brain tumour (cancer) can also cause brain injury.

What does it mean?

It depends on which part of the brain is injured, as different parts of the brain affect different parts of the body. If brain injury comes from a serious accident, an illness or a brain tumour, it may take a while to know what injury has been caused. The body may have to heal from other injuries. Some small injuries in the brain can take months to heal up. Only after this can doctors see if there might be long-term changes for the person. Some of the things that may be hard for someone with a brain injury might be using their arms or legs, speaking, chewing or swallowing or concentrating on things. They may also find it hard to remember things, especially things that have just happened or plan what to do or how to do it. They may get tired more easily, feel fed up or worried, and have to do things more slowly than other people.

It can be difficult for everyone in the family if the person looks completely better, but their personality has changed or they don’t seem to be able to look after themselves so well. It is very common for a person whose brain has been injured in an accident not to be able to remember the accident at all. People with a brain injury may also have epilepsy, or a learning disability.

What treatment is there?

People who have brain injuries may take medicine or have surgery to try and improve how their brain works. They may also need help to learn to do things like talking, walking and looking after themselves. They might have:

  • physiotherapy
  • occupational therapy
  • speech and language therapy

This information has been approved by The Children’s Trust, January 2014