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S32 Step By Step Guide

What is ABI

ABI is 'an injury to the brain which results in deterioration in cognitive, physical, emotional or independent functioning' (Department of Human Services and Health, 1994). It is a complex disability that causes limitation to the day-to-day lives of around 1 in 45 Australians.

Damage may be caused by a traumatic injury to the head from a car accident, assault, fall etc. Non-traumatic events such as stroke, tumour, hypoxia or toxins such as alcohol and other drugs can also cause ABI.

Identifying acquired brain injury

ABI is not always readily identifiable by looking at or talking with a person. Some clients might not mention it to you because they are not aware of its relevance to how matters proceed in court.

    Some ABI indicators that you may notice in your clients:
  • difficulty paying attention
  • easily confused and overwhelmed
  • difficulty keeping appointments
  • tendency towards fixed ideas and patterns of thinking
  • slower at processing information
  • clumsiness
  • inability to move an arm or leg
  • difficulties in emotional control
    Common signs of acquired brain injury
  • Client gets angry quickly
  • Client is forgetful and misses appointments and court dates
  • Client slurs when speaking (sounds drunk but is not intoxicated)

If you think your client may have ABI, you can ask them directly. If your client is not sure, you might be able to clarify by asking some of the following questions.

  • Have you ever had a head injury?
  • Have you ever been unconscious?
  • Do you get a pension?
  • What type of pension do you get? (If your client answers 'Disability Support Pension' (DSP) then ask them what disability they have.)
  • Do you have a case worker or support worker who helps you?
Clients with acquired brain injury (ABI) – legal issuesEffects and what to do

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