Acquired brain injury (ABI) FAQs

Looking for information on ABI? Here are some of our frequently asked questions.

What is an acquired brain injury (ABI)?

An acquired brain injury (ABI) describes any brain injury that occurs after birth. There are many ways that a brain can be injured, including lack of oxygen, an infection, disease or physical trauma, such as a hit to the head.

Although there are more than 700,000 people in Australia living with ABI, the impact on their health, thinking, learning and behaviour is diverse.

Some people with an ABI experience medical difficulties such as epilepsy or fatigue. Other people may experience behavioural changes such as a short temper or reduced attention span. While the physical disabilities which can follow a brain injury are often easy to see, the effects on thinking, learning and behaviour may be harder to recognise.

What causes ABI?

The cause and severity of ABI can vary and may occur from:

  • Sudden onset – such as a physical trauma, accident, infection or lack of oxygen
  • Insidious onset –  such as tumours, neurological disease or substance abuse

Common causes of ABI are:

  • Physical injury
  • Stroke 
  • Disease
  • Lack of oxygen
  • Complications from alcohol or drug use


What characteristics are typical to ABI?

A person’s experience with ABI depends on the cause of their injury and which areas of the brain have been affected. It can be difficult to predict how ABI may affect someone mentally or physically. Some people with ABI may have injuries they can recover from while others may have lengthy or permanent effects.

The physical effects of ABI can be:

  • Tremors, shaking, weakness, stiffness or poor balance
  • Tiredness
  • Sleep issues
  • Epilepsy
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Loss of vision, smell or hearing


The behavioural effects of ABI can be:

  • Emotional changes
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability or edginess
  • Feeling ‘flat’ or depressed
  • Personality changes


The effects of ABI on learning and thinking can be:

  • Memory problems
  • Concentration and attention issues
  • Difficulty making plans
  • Communication problems
  • Confusion

How common is ABI in Australia?

ABI is relatively common in Australia. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that around 700,000 Australians have ABI and of those, three in four are aged 65 or under. Three-quarters of people with ABI are male.

How is ABI diagnosed?

ABI can be diagnosed by a medical professional such as a doctor or neurologist. CT scans and x-rays may be required to ensure that rehabilitation is highly targeted and effective. Memory or cognitive tests may also be included to determine if a person requires any additional lifestyle support.

Can adults with ABI live independently?

Unless the person was very young when they acquired their brain injury, it’s likely they already have experience leading an independent life. This can make adjusting to a life with more limited independence challenging.

The good news is that with the right support, many people with ABI can continue leading active and independent adult lives and return to fulfilling employment. For people with more complex needs, organisations like Mambourin are dedicated to helping them build practical skills that prepare them for independent living. 

We can support people with ABI with skills such as:

  • Personal care and self-care
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Communication skills
  • Healthy meal preparation
  • Meal planning and grocery shopping
  • Budgeting and home management
  • Goal setting
  • General skill development
  • Using transport 
  • Positive behavior support

What support is available to people with ABI?

People with ABI may be eligible for NDIS support. Mambourin’s NDIS team can help open up the NDIS for you and your family and assist you with:

  • Your NDIS questions, big and small
  • General NDIS planning support
  • An individual NDIS pre-planning session, just for you and your family
  • Our digital quoting system that offers tailored quotes for Mambourin services and supports
  • Plan review support

Where can I learn about social activities for people living with ABI?

For some people with ABI, getting out and connecting with people in a safe environment is important for building social skills and confidence – while having fun, of course! 

Mambourin offers a range of social and interest choices that almost always take place in a group setting and are designed to accommodate a range of unique interests.

Our social and interest choices include:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Various leisure options
  • Gym and fitness
  • Swimming and swim safety
  • Meditation and self-care
  • Performance and expressive arts
  • Hip-hop dancing and music production
  • Radio hosting and production
  • Choir and singing
  • Computers and digital tech
  • Movie making

What leisure and recreation choices are available for people living with ABI?

Along with social and interest choices, Mambourin offers leisure and recreation choices for those who are interested in getting out and about.

Our wide range of leisure and recreation choices include:

  • Weekends At Mambourin (known as WAM!) – group social activities on the weekend
  • Flexi-choices – individual activities as and when you want them
  • Assisted holidays – ask us about assisted weekends away!

Weekend activities are varied to suit all tastes and you can choose which ones you’d like to join. Some of our more popular options include:

  •  Tenpin bowling
  •  Movies
  •  Melbourne and Werribee Zoos
  •  AFL matches
  •  Live music
  •  Dance parties
  •  Music therapy programs
  •  Car shows and racing
  •  Wrestling (local and international)
  •  Local markets and shows
  •  Museums and art galleries

What community programs are available for people living with ABI?

Getting out into the community, either in a group or individual setting is great for developing interpersonal skills that build confidence and independence. Mambourin has a huge range of structured, group-based activities and individual outings to choose from that we like to call community choices.

Your community choices:

  • Cafés
  • Shopping trips
  • Community events
  • Nature walks
  • Bowling (lawn and ten pin)
  • BBQs and lunches
  • Day trips and sightseeing
  • Art exhibitions and museums
  • Movies and theatre
  • Clubbing and parties
  • Major events and concerts
  • Sports and recreation events

What employment opportunities are available for people living with ABI?

Finding employment when you have a disability can seem challenging.

The good news is that with the right network and opportunities, many people with ABI can find work in a variety of fields.

Speak to Mambourin about your employment goals and we will work to connect you to every opportunity to make them happen. We have a range of pathways to further training and offer on-the-job support when you need it.

Opportunities we can provide include:

  • Mambourin Business Solutions warehouse which offers work in packaging, assembly and logistics services from our award-winning Derrimut warehouse
  • Our professional gardening team servicing the western Melbourne and CBD regions
  • Our administrative team supporting the organisation with administration and front-of-house duties


Are there traineeships available for people living with ABI?

For those with an ABI aged 16 and over and still enrolled in school, a Mambourin Traineeship is a great pathway to further study or employment.

The best part? You get paid as you go!

The current traineeships we offer at Mambourin include:

  • Certificate II Warehousing Operations
  • Certificate III Warehousing Operations

Mambourin supports people living with a range of different disabilities and support needs.

If you’d like to discuss how we can support you, contact one of our friendly team members on 9731 9200 or email us at hello@mambourin.org

Get in touch

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