Common Questions

About Concussions

What is an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)?

2 women in a surgery: middle aged doctor in lab coat showing her senior patient magnetic resonance images of her head

An ABI is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth and is not hereditary, congenital or degenerative. The injury commonly results in a change in neuronal activity, which affects the physical integrity, the metabolic activity, or the functional ability of the cell. The term does not refer to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.

Causes of ABI:

  • External forces applied to the head and/or neck (traumatic brain injury [TBI])
  • Tumor
  • Blood clot
  • Stroke
  • Seizure
  • Toxic exposure (e.g., substance abuse, ingestion of lead, inhalation of volatile agents)
  • Infections (encephalitis, meningitis)
  • Metabolic disorders (insulin shock, diabetic coma, liver and kidney disease)
  • Neurotoxic poisoning
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain (airway obstruction, strangulation, cardiopulmonary arrest, carbon monoxide poisoning, drowning)

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

The young doctor pointing into the film X-Ray in his hand and talking to patient male about human skull for brain x-ray results with clipping path

TBI is an insult to the brain, not of a degenerative or congenital nature but caused by an external physical force, that may produce a diminished or altered state of consciousness, which results in an impairment of cognitive abilities or physical functioning. It can also result in the disturbance of behavioral or emotional functioning. These impairments may be either temporary or permanent and cause partial or total functional disability or psychosocial maladjustment.

Causes of TBI:

  • Falls
  • Motor Vehicle Crashes
  • Gunshot Wounds
  • Sports Injuries
  • Workplace Injuries
  • Child Abuse
  • Domestic Violence
  • Military Actions
  • Other injuries caused by trauma

What are the leading causes of TBIs?

  • In 2014* falls were the leading cause of TBI. Falls accounted for almost half (48%) of all TBI-related emergency department visits. Falls disproportionately affect children and older adults:
    • Almost half (49%) of TBI-related ED visits among children 0 to 17 years were caused by falls.
    • Four in five (81%) TBI-related ED visits in older adults aged 65 years and older were caused by falls
  • Being struck by or against an object was the second leading cause of TBI-related ED visits, accounting for about 17% of all TBI-related ED visits in the United States in 2014.
    • Over 1 in 4 (28%) TBI-related ED visits in children less than 17 years of age or less were caused by being struck by or against an object.
  • Falls and motor vehicle crashes were the first and second leading causes of all TBI-related hospitalizations (52% and 20%, respectively).
  • Intentional self-harm was the first leading cause of TBI-related deaths (33%) in 2014.

Check out the CDC TBI: Get the Facts website for more information.

*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). Surveillance Report of Traumatic Brain Injury-related Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths—United States, 2014. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


What are the symptoms of a Brain Injury?

Symptoms of a mild brain injury or concussion include:

  • Low-grade headache that won’t go away
  • Having more trouble than usual remembering things, paying attention or concentrating, organizing daily tasks, or making decisions and solving problems
  • Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting or reading
  • Getting lost or easily confused
  • Feeling tired all the time, lack of energy or motivation
  • Change in sleep pattern, sleeping much longer than before, having trouble sleeping
  • Loss of balance, feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • Increased sensitivity to sounds, lights, distractions
  • Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
  • Loss of sense of taste or smell
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Change in sexual drive
  • Mood changes like feeling sad, anxious, or listless, or becoming easily irritated or angry for little or no reason

A person with a moderate or severe TBI may also have:

  • A headache that gets worse or does not go away
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Inability to wake up from sleep
  • Dilation of one or both pupils
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Loss of coordination
  • Increased confusion, restlessness or agitation

What Vermont state programs are available to me?

Health Connect

Vermont Health Connect is a way to choose a health plan that fits your needs and your budget. Both private and public plans are available.

Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living

The Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living’s mission is to make Vermont the best state in which to grow old or to live with a disability – with dignity, respect and independence.

Department of Mental Health

The Department of Mental Health oversees the publicly-funded community-based and inpatient services to Vermonters to ensure early intervention and mental health treatment and supports as needed to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities.

Department of Health

The Department of Health programs and initiatives help Vermonters live fuller, healthier lives from birth through old age. Focusing on prevention, one of the best investments that can be made in health. Promoting healthy behaviors such as eating a healthy diet, having regular physical activity, and not smoking or abusing alcohol or other drugs.

Vermont 2-1-1

The Vermont 2-1-1 database contains detailed descriptions of programs and services available to Vermonters that are provided by local community groups, social service and health-related agencies, government organizations, and others.


Where can I find brain injury prevention materials and information?

The Brain Injury Association of Vermont has a variety of prevention and awareness material available on our website:

There are federal agencies that develop prevention resource and information materials. The resources we are aware of are listed below: