Module 1: An Introduction to Traumatic Brain Injury

1.0 Aim, rational and outcomes


This module provides an overview of the nature of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the impact it can have on a person’s life as well as on the lives of their family. This includes looking at their whole situation, including their community and available services. By exploring this information, the module assists workers to enable individuals with a TBI to achieve and maintain their maximum potential within their family and community.


People who have a disability arising from a TBI are often confronted with distinctly different challenges than people with similar impairments arising from other causes. In large part, this is due to the nature of the injury itself. In order to work effectively with people with a TBI, it is essential to have a broad understanding of the physical processes of injury and recovery, the possible impact on brain functions, and the outcomes that may result – for the individual, the family and society as a whole.

Lack of information is one problem; another is that people frequently have misinformation about head injury. This is partly due to media images that create misconceptions about the long-term effects of a head injury. In addition, recent research challenges former assumptions about recovery. Therefore, it is important to correct, wherever possible, these sorts of misconceptions in order to effectively meet the needs of people with a TBI.


At the end of this module, you should be able to:

1.1 Define ‘traumatic brain injury’.

1.2 Identify the epidemiology of this disability (eg. sex ratio, age distribution).

1.3 Describe the basic anatomy of the skull and brain.

1.4 Recognise how trauma impacts on the structures of the brain.

1.5 Recognise the process of recovery.

1.6 Define stages of rehabilitation.

1.7 Give examples of four broad categories of long-term impairments often seen after a traumatic brain injury, recognising the links between site and type of injury with possible resulting impairments of brain function.

1.8 Define common outcomes for a person with a TBI and their family.

1.9 Identify the types of services (nationally and locally) available to people with a TBI and their families.

Module1 Compiled by:

Grahame Simpson
Research Officer and Senior Social Worker

Barbara Strettles
Residential Services Manager
Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit
Liverpool Hospital, Sydney