Most common causes
• Traumatic brain injury
Traumatic brain injury or TBI occurs when an external force traumatically delivers a blow to the head, affecting consciousness at different levels and/or fracturing the skull. TBI is common in young people as the result of road or workplace accidents. Other common causes of TBI are falls, especially in children and elderly people, violent attacks, or sports- or risky activity-related accidents.
• Stroke: infarct and brain haemorrhage
Stroke, also known as cerebrovascular accident or CVA, occurs when blood supply to the brain is disturbed in some way. A stroke can be the result of the blockage of an artery leading to the brain (ischemic stroke) or the bleeding into brain tissue when a blood vessel bursts (haemorrhagic stroke). The effects of a stroke, whose symptoms develop within days or weeks, depend mainly on the affected area of the brain, the part of the brain that is injured, and the patient’s age. There are TBI victims in a vegetative state, who require special care, and patients who lose consciousness for days or weeks only. The Spanish public health authorities are addressing the issue through the Ministry of Health’s National Health System Stroke Strategy. The Ministry, along with regional authorities, scientific societies, stroke associations, and other stakeholders with an interest in the subject, is making efforts towards better stroke care.
• Anoxic brain injury
Anoxic brain damage can occur when adequately oxygenated blood cannot reach the brain. It may be caused by a heart attack, suffocation, exposure to carbon monoxide, choking, or lung disease. Anoxic brain damage can also occur before or during childbirth.
• Brain tumours
As with trauma, the survival rate for brain tumours has risen. As a result, there is a higher number of survivors with brain damage who need rehabilitation.
Herpes virus infection is the commonest cause of encephalitis. This type of infection affects mostly the brain’s temporal and frontal lobes. The most severe cases involve memory and language problems, as well as emotional and behavioural changes.