One in 45 Australians has an acquired brain injury (ABI) according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, Disability in Australia: acquired brain injury, shows that more than two-thirds of all people with ABI were males.
'Males were more likely to have ABI than females in all age groups and they were more than twice as likely as females to be hospitalised with traumatic brain injury,' said Dr Louise O'Rance of the AIHW's Functioning and Disability Unit.
Acquired brain injury refers to any damage to the brain that occurs after birth. Common causes include accidents, stroke, lack of oxygen and degenerative neurological disease.
More than half of all people under 65 years of age whose brain injury was their main disabling condition said that their injury was caused by a traffic accident.
'People who have ABI tend to have more complex needs than people with disability generally,' Dr O'Rance said.
'For example, 36% of people with ABI needed help with basic daily activities of mobility, selfcare or communication, compared with 27% of people with disability generally.
The report also found that more than one in three people with ABI needed cognitive or emotional support.
The report found that 82% of people with ABI also had physical disabilities, 42% had psychiatric disabilities, 39% had sensory or speech disabilities and 29% had intellectual disabilities.
'An encouraging trend to come out the study was that the hospitalisation rate from traumatic brain injury fell by more than 20% among children younger than 15 years of age between 1999-2000 and 2004-05,' Dr O'Rance said.
Almost 12,000 people with ABI used disability services funded under the Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA) in 2004-05, accounting for 6% of all CSTDA-funded service users.
The CSTDA-funded services most commonly accessed by people with ABI in 2004-05 were case management (40%), open employment (16%), therapy support (14%), learning and life skills development (14%) and in-home accommodation support (10%).