Physical effects of ABI
This page looks at the broad range of physical effects of acquired brain injury.
On this page
MovementBack to topOur brain sends out many thousands of tiny electrical signals which tell our bodies what to do. So when the brain is injured, there may be difficulties with movement.1 The brain is set up so that the left part of the brain controls the movement on the right side of the body, and vice versa. So if an injury occurs in one side of the brain, some children experience weakness or paralysis in the opposite side of the body.2 Weakness of this kind is called hemiparesis. Paralysis – where someone can’t move that side of their body at all – is called hemiplegia.
Let’s look at some of the other ways in which movement can be affected.
- Sometimes a child’s fine movements (dexterity) will be affected. A child may struggle with tasks like writing.
- Children may feel dizzy and unbalanced.3
- Contractures is a tightening of the muscles that makes it an effort for a child to stretch their limbs. A physiotherapist may be able to teach a child exercises to overcome this difficulty.
- Children may have less visible difficulties with a lack of strength, rigidity or tremors in their muscles.4, 5
Dyspraxia/motor planning6Back to top
We’ve looked at how brain injury can restrict those movements we make without much thought. Dyspraxia or difficulties with motor planning are different in that they affect the very deliberate movements we make. The movements we make in sequences – such as reaching for something – require a set order that our brain devises for us. Dyspraxia affects the way the brain organises these sequences.7 To someone who doesn’t understand the difficulty, it may seem strange. A person with dyspraxia might be able to kick a football that came towards them without thinking about it. But if they were asked to plan their movement: “kick this ball”, they may struggle. Speech can also be affected by dyspraxia, because it requires many complex movements in sequence.