In the state of California, an acquired brain injury refers to one in which damage to the brain occurs after birth. The brain injury is not related to any degenerative disease or congenital defect, making it an acquired injury. The impairments caused by an acquired brain injury may be temporary or permanent and can cause partial or functional issues.

An acquired brain injury is often called a traumatic brain injury. It is a type of injury that occurs when there is rapid physical damage to the brain. It can occur in a car accident, for example, if the head strikes the dashboard. It can also occur when the skull and brain are pierced, such as by a gunshot wound. The majority of acquired brain injuries occur in motor vehicle accidents.

Most acquired brain injuries are focal in nature, or confined to a small area of the brain. The area of damage is most often at the point where the head was struck. In addition to the focal damage that occurs, closed head injuries can cause damage to other areas of the brain. This happens when the brain moves back and forth or from side to side in the skull, striking the bony interior.

Due to the nature of the injury and typical areas of damage, many people who suffer an acquired brain injury exhibit difficulties with speech, memory and cognitive skills. Victims may display problems with balance or walking, slurred speech, problems with vision, memory loss, confusion, irritability and more.