Headway – the brain injury association

Headway - the brain injury association is a charity set up to give help and support to people affected by brain injury.

Brain injury can challenge every aspect of your life – walking, talking, thinking and feeling – and the losses can be severe and permanent. It can mean losing the life you once lived and the person you once were. A brain injury can happen to anyone, at any time. When it does, we’re here to help.


We all think ‘it will never happen to me’, but every year around 350,000 people are admitted to hospital with an acquired brain injury.

That’s one every 90 seconds.

A brain injury can happen to anyone, at any time. When it does, Headway is here to help.

Find out about how acquired brain injury affects survivors, family members, carers and the people around them. We provide information to help at the different stages of brain injury, from hospital to home.

Types of brain injury

Acquired brain injury can have a number of different causes. Some of the most common types of brain injury include:

Effects of brain injury

A brain injury can lead to a wide range of effects. While many people recover quickly after a minor head injury (often known as concussion), this is not always the case and people may experience longer-term effects.

The more severe the brain injury, the longer-term and more pronounced the effects are likely to be. Some people may spend time in a coma, or experience a more prolonged reduced awareness state. During the early stages of recovery, brain injury survivors often go through a stage called Post-traumatic amnesia, where they have no continuous memory of day-to-day events and their behaviour may be very uncharacteristic and confused.

A brain injury can cause behavioural and emotional changes, hormonal imbalances, difficulties with cognition and memory, a range of communication problemsphysical effects and, very commonly, fatigue.

Hospital treatment and early recovery after brain injury

The time immediately after the injury is bound to be full of worry and uncertainty for everyone concerned.

We provide information on the different stages of recovery, from the time in the hospital and early rehabilitation through to discharge. Families may be able to access a grant to help with the unexpected costs of brain injury by applying to our Emergency Fund.

You can also set up a page on our I’m calling about Chris website to post updates on your loved one’s situation and allow family and friends to keep up-to-date. They can also access our information that explains how to support a family that is dealing with brain injury.

Rehabilitation and continuing care after brain injury

Rehabilitation aims to help the brain learn alternative ways of working in order to minimise the long-term impact of the brain injury. Rehabilitation also helps the survivor and the family to cope successfully with any remaining disabilities.

In this section you can find out more about what brain injury rehabilitation involves, and get information on the rehabilitation team that you will be working with.

After the initial phase of rehabilitation is complete, you may require continuing care, and want to find out about ways you can self-direct your support.

Practical issues after brain injury

A brain injury can lead to a wide range of difficulties in day-to-day life. For many people, a priority may be to seek financial support. This could involve getting legal advice to pursue compensation, applying for welfare benefits or applying for a grant from the Headway Emergency Fund.

In the longer-term, many brain injury survivors may want to return to driving, or get back to work or education.

They may also qualify for a Brain injury identity card, which is designed to provide brain injury survivors with added confidence in everyday social scenarios, and ensure they get the right support if they come into contact with the police.

Relationships after brain injury

For some people, the emotional, behavioural, physical and cognitive changes of brain injury can have an impact on existing and future relationships.

We explain how a brain injury effects relationships, with further information for partners and friends. We also provide in-depth information on an often overlooked issue – the affect of brain injury on sex and sexuality.

There is also useful information to help people with brain injury to cope with parenting and supporting children.

Information library

You can browse our full range of free booklets and factsheets in the information library.

Brain injury and me 

Brain injury and me is an innovative and exciting website that raises awareness of brain injury through personal stories.

The Living with brain injury section contains a wide range of practical advice, incorporating the experiences and views of survivors and carers.