Over 700,000 Australians have a brain injury. Some of these injuries occur after birth - strokes, falls, accidents,assaults and more - and are known as acquired brain injuries (ABIs).

The majority of people with these injuries acquired them before turning 25, and in many cases the primary responsibility of care has fallen up on their nearest and dearest.

What does it mean for a marriage, a family unit, or a friendship after a loved one sustains an ABI? When such an injury can dramatically alter personalities, personal relationships and physical and intellectual abilities?

To everyone else these injuries can go largely unnoticed, but to family and friends, it can be like losing a familiar, beloved person in their life.


"It's important to have your own life. You need to have a separation from that situation. You can't be there 24/7, no matter how much you love the person."

Samantha Grant, psychologist


Katie and Shane Cummins's daughter, Isabelle, seems like an ordinary six year-old but her behaviour has changed since an operation to remove a cyst pressing against her brain. Isabelle can be unpredictable, aggressive and tires quickly.

Similarly, Leola Foon's nature has changed significantly since she suffered an aneurysm a few years ago - though perhaps for the better, as her now-husband Mervyn and parents will attest.

The emotional, physical and financial cost of looking after a loved with an ABI by high. Some estimate the costs of looking after someone with an ABI for their lifetime can be up to $5 million.

In 2015, Lisa Bryant's 24 year-old daughter Rikki had a seizure and contracted encephalitis, a swelling of the brain, that caused irreparable damage. The independent woman who was studying for her Masters now requires full time care, and younger brother Zeke finds it hard to spend time with her missing the person she once was. The family is also struggling financially, with Lisa unable to work the way she used to.

This week, Insight hears the emotional stories of Australian families dealing with life after an acquired brain injury. 

Airdate: Tuesday, March 14, 2017 - 20:30

Channel: SBS


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