Physical consequences

Physical consequences following an acquired brain injury (ABI):

  • fatigue
  • pain, headaches
  • dizziness, nausea
  • lack of motor coordination
  • change in sleep patterns
  • blurred vision, tired eyes
  • altered senses
  • difficulty with movement
  • difficulty with mobility: sitting, standing, walking, running.


Excessive tiredness and reduced capacity to engage in everyday life. More effort to think and
do. Impacts everyday activities and rehabilitation.

Unhelpful responses
  • doing too much – boom and bust

  • not doing enough

  • increasing caffeine

  • worrying

  • avoidance

  • getting angry/frustrated with self and others.

Helpful responses

Planning and pacing


  • plan your day
  • prioritise – do most important tasks when you feel most alert
  • if you have to do something, ensure you rest so you can complete it.


  • have a routine – plan in breaks/rest periods
  • relaxation
  • break activities down into small chunks.

Top tips

  • don’t take on too much – do not feel guilty saying “no”
  • work within your limits
  • do one thing at a time.

Physical exercise

Fitness can be reduced after brain injury. Exercise is safe and good for you.

Regular exercise and physical activity can improve:

  • fitness
  • mood
  • energy levels and fatigue
  • walking, balance, disability and independence
  • sleep
  • overall health.
How much?

Do what fits into your lifestyle and what you can manage

150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity (30 mins five times per week) e.g. cycling, fast walking, housework also twice a week include some exercises to build strength e.g. gardening/yoga/hoovering

Sleep hygiene

  • no electronics before bed – switch off your phone
  • warm drink
  • bubble bath
  • listen to some relaxing music.


  • jigsaw, crossword, sudoku
  • gentle exercise – yoga
  • arts and crafts
  • spend time with
  • family/friends/pet
  • meditate
  • cook/bake
  • gardening
  • rest.


Acute pain: short-term flare-up, direct injury (broken bones, cuts, bruises).

Chronic pain: long-term feelings, often derived from changes to the central nervous system (prickly or throbbing pain, headaches).

Motor difficulties

  • fine
  • gross
  • left or right sided
  • proprioception
  • balance
  • dizziness.

Altered senses

  • sensory defensiveness
  • altered sense of taste and smell
  • damage to cranial nerves 1-12
  • touch
  • hearing
  • vision/sight.


  • visual field difficulties
  • blind area in the visual field caused by lesion to occipital lobe
  • space perception difficulties
  • unilateral neglect
  • depth perception
  • mental rotation
  • agnosia (objects, face, emotions).

Speech - aphasia

A stroke affecting the left side of the brain may lead to aphasia – language impairment.

Different aspects of language are located in different parts of the left hemisphere.

Wernicke's aphasia – receptive
Broca's aphasia – expressive

Brain Injury Information