Simply Psychology : Neuropsychology

Neuropsychology Services

Acquired Brain Injury

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the leading cause of acquired brain injury (ABI), affecting two in every 1000 people. TBI affects roughly three times more males than females. Those between the ages of 15 and 24 years are at the highest risk of sustaining a TBI. Open head injuries account for less than 10% of TBIs. Closed head injury results from rapid acceleration and deceleration forces. Damage to the brain is caused when it moves within the skull and collides with the inner surface. The frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are particularly susceptible to bruising from these forces. Another mechanism of injury is diffuse axonal injury. This is when nerve cells in the brain are stretched and sometimes torn due to the rapid acceleration and deceleration forces. This occurs more globally throughout the brain. Secondary complications such as bleeding, hydrocephalus and swelling of brain tissue can cause further damage.

  • Substance Use which is excessive and/or chronic can have a substantial effect on neuropsychological functioning, depending on the substance(s) that have been used. Alcohol is the most widely abused substance in the western world. Significant chronic alcohol use results in diminished cognition over time, even when a person is sober. A severe and irreversible result of significant long-term alcohol consumption is the Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. This syndrome results in a dramatic loss of ability to learn and remember new information, along with other cognitive and behavioural difficulties. Those with the syndrome have clear physical brain changes.

  • Hypoxic Brain injury occurs when the oxygen supply to the brain has been significantly disrupted. The lack of oxygen causes cells in the brain to die. Hypoxic brain injury may be subtle or severe and neuropsychological assessment can determine the impact of damage on cognitive functioning.

  • Brain infections are rare. They are caused by infiltration of the brain by either a virus or bacteria. Some examples include HIV/AIDS and Herpes Simplex. Different infectious agents tend to affect different parts of the brain, and therefore a neuropsychological assessment can assist with both diagnosis and treatment of infectious brain conditions.

  • Brain tumours are an abnormal growth of cells in the brain. The extent and nature of cognitive impairment resulting from a brain tumour depends on the size and location of the tumour, among other factors.

  • Updated Jan 2016