Brain injury


‘ ‘In wealthier countries, we can expect 1/10 people to be impacted in some way by brain injury’, according to the Economist author. ‘Those who have experienced such injuries are more likely to suffer mental-health problems and loneliness. They are more likely to struggle with addiction to drink or drugs, or to be homeless. They are also more likely to commit crimes, including violent ones, although most do not.’ The impact of even mild brain injury undetected, can be life-changing. We know abuse and childhood deprivation can cause changes in brain structure. It is proven that traumatic and physical brain injuries have a negative impact, on physical and mental health too. Children at risk of parental neglect are more likely to have accidents and blows which do not receive medical attention. Whilst we are aware most recently of the possible longer term consequences of ‘heading a ball’ or ‘concussion in sport’ , we are less aware of  the impact of  all types of brain injuries in our most troubled communities. 

The Economist, 2021 has highlighted the issue in our prisons. In the extract below the case of Manuel is described.

‘Manuel was born in Denver, Colorado, and suffered two major brain injuries as an infant. The first was caused by a fall. The second incident happened after he was knocked out by a rock thrown at his head. He made it all the way home before passing out. He had brain scans on both cases, but he doesn’t recall seeing any other medication.

Manuel was sent to a boarding school for troublemakers when he was a youth. He attempted to strangle his stepfather, who he claims were abusive towards his mother when he was in his early twenties. He was incarcerated. He sustained a third brain injury last year when he dropped out of a fast-moving pickup truck. He was in a coma for six days’.

It is very encouraging to see acknowledgement of the prevalence of brain injury in our forensic environments.  It shows that a minor brain injury that goes unnoticed may have life-altering consequences. Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) can hit the most disadvantaged groups worst. Good news that we are moving towards a more focused approach to its assessment and the offer of appropriate services. At Atrium clinic, we collect data on ABI so we can monitor its prevalence in the forensic settings in which we work and adapt our approaches to meet the needs of the client.