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Acquired Brain Injury Services

An acquired brain injury (ABI) is damage to the brain that occurs after birth. It is not related to a congenital disorder, a developmental disability, or degenerative disease. It is brain damage caused by motor vehicle crashes, stroke, fall, aneurysm, etc. The term does not refer to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.

Every year in our province, about 2,200 people sustain an ABI. About 150 of the people injured each year will need multiple services and lifetime support.


1. Access ABI Services

ABI Outreach Support Teams accept self-referrals as well as those from health facilities, physicians, rehabilitation program, professional support services, schools, and community agencies.

You can contact an ABI Outreach Support Team by calling:

  • Saskatchewan North: 306-765-6630
  • Saskatchewan Central: 306-655-7743
  • Saskatchewan South: 306-766-5617

2. Alcohol and Drug Use after a Brain Injury

You may experience the following if you consume alcohol or drugs after a brain injury:

  • Slowing recovery
    If people who have had a brain injury begin using alcohol or other drugs, they may lose much of the progress they have made. Because they have lost brain cells in the injury, the remaining cells must work harder for the person to do some of the same activities they did before the injury. If the remaining cells are affected by alcohol or drugs, they will not be able to take over the duties of the dead cells. That means skills a person could have regained are now lost.
  • More problems in balance, walking or talking
    For people whose brain injury has caused difficulties with balance, movement, and speech, alcohol and other drugs further reduce ability in these areas.
  • Increasing the chance to say or do things without thinking first
    This problem is worsened by using alcohol and other drugs. Acting before thinking can be a common problem for people with brain injury. It is also a problem for people who abuse alcohol and drugs. Not being able to control what they say or do can lead to increased risk-taking, arguments, or other socially inappropriate behaviour. People with brain injuries may learn ways to control their behaviour. However, they are unable to use these skills well when drinking or using drugs.
  • Worsening problems with thinking, such as concentration and memory
    Using alcohol and other drugs make these problems worse. Many people have to learn new skills, or relearn old ones, after a brain injury. People may have trouble with concentration, memory, problem-solving, and other thinking skills. Alcohol and other drugs can also interfere with learning new information.
  • Feel more effect from alcohol and drug use
    Brain injury results in a loss of brain cells. Those cells that remain must do their own work plus the work of the dead cells. Because there are fewer cells after a brain injury, more alcohol or drugs go to fewer cells, increasing the impact of the alcohol or drugs on that person's ability to function. The person becomes intoxicated more quickly, and the effect of the alcohol or other drugs is much greater. In addition, alcohol and other drugs interfere with the effectiveness of prescribed medications.
  • More likely to feel low or depressed
    Drinking alcohol (a depressant), or getting high on other drugs, makes this problem worse. Depression is fairly common after a brain injury. Some people may try to cope by drinking alcohol or using other drugs. While people may "forget" their problems for awhile, these problems are still there when they are sober. An endless cycle can be established at this point, with depression leading to substance use, which leads to increased depression. This behaviour decreases overall ability, increasing depression even more.
  • Causing a seizure
    Some people with a brain injury have an increased risk of seizures. Those who are at a very high risk are given medication to prevent them. Alcohol and other drugs increase the chance that even those at the lower levels of risk will have a seizure. Alcohol and non-prescription drugs prevent seizure medications from working, further increasing the risk of seizures.
  • More likely to have another brain injury
    A person who has difficulty thinking clearly, walking smoothly, or reacting quickly due to brain injury is three times more likely to have another injury. People who further cloud their abilities with alcohol or drugs will have an even higher risk of another injury. Second and subsequent injuries will cause more harm than the first one. The destruction of more cells as the result of a second injury will leave even fewer cells to do the same jobs. Some abilities will be lost because of fewer cells to make these functions possible.

3. Learn More about Brain Injuries

Plan a Brain Walk helps students from kindergarten to grade six learn about the different functions of the brain

Concussion/Mild Brain Injury provides information on concussion and mild brain injury, specifically if it's been acquired playing sport.

The Survival Guide - Living with Acquired Brain Injury in the Community provides information and support to families of individuals who have had a moderate to severe brain injury.


4. Support for Residents with Brain Injuries

ABI Partnership Project provides support to individuals with acquired brain injury so that they may live successfully in their communities with improved quality of life. There are currently 36 programs available.

Community Injury Prevention Grants enable community groups to establish, enhance and deliver programs that address traffic safety concerns and prevention initiatives in their communities.

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