About Brain Injury

A Glossary of Terms

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Intracranial Pressure

Understanding Coma

Rancho Los Amigos Scale/ The Levels of Coma

Objectives of Neurosurgery

A Guide to Brain Anatomy

Abnormal - Not average, typical or usual; not normal. [Click Here to Return to List]

Abscess - A localized collection of pus in a cavity. [Click Here to Return to List]

Abstract Concept - A concept or idea not related to any specific instance or object and which potentially can be applied to many different situations or objects. Persons with cognitive deficits often have difficulty undestanding abstract concepts. [Click Here to Return to List]

Abstract Thinking - Being able to apply abstract concepts to new situations and surroundings. [Click Here to Return to List]

Acalculia - The inability to perform simple problems of arithmetic. [Click Here to Return to List]

Accident - See Terms and Definitions Related to Insurance. With respect to prevention of injuries caused by motor vehicles, the preferred term is "crash", rather than accident, so as not to suggest that the event was unavoidable. [Click Here to Return to List]

Accommodate - To furnish with something desired, needed or suited; also, to use an alternative means. [Click Here to Return to List]

Acuity - Sharpness or quality of a sensation. [Click Here to Return to List]

Acute - Sharp, severe, having sudden onset, sharp rise and short course; lasting a short time; seriously demanding urgent attention. [Click Here to Return to List]

Acute Care - The phase of managing health problems which is conducted in a hospital on patients needing medical attention. [Click Here to Return to List]

Acute Rehabilitation Program - Primary emphasis is on the early phase of rehabilitation which usually begins as soon as the patient is medically stable. The program is designed to be comprehensive and based in a medical facility with a typical length of stay of 1-3 months. Treatment is provided by an identifiable team in a designated unit. [Click Here to Return to List]

Adaptive/Assistive Equipment - A special device which assists in the performance of self-care, work or play/leisure activities or physical exercise. [Click Here to Return to List]

Adaptive - Developing an individual's strengths and conditioning the ability to overcome a disabling condition. [Click Here to Return to List]

Adiadochokinesia - Inability to stop one movement and follow it immediately with movement in the opposite direction. [Click Here to Return to List]

Advocacy Organization - A group or nonprofit entity which provides resource information, support services and/or educational opportunities for individuals or families in need, and makes those needs known to professional care-givers as well as to the general public. [Click Here to Return to List]

Affect - The observable emotional condition of an individual at any given time. [Click Here to Return to List]

Affective Disorders - Mental illnesses characterized mainly by abnormalities in mood. The two principal categories are mania and depression. [Click Here to Return to List]

Agnosia - Failure to recognize familiar objects although sensory mechanism is intact. May occur for any sensory modality. [Click Here to Return to List]

Agraphia - Inability to express thoughts in writing. [Click Here to Return to List]

Akinetic Mutism - A condition of silent, alert-appearing, immobility that characterizes certain subacute or chronic states of altered consciousness. Sleep-wake cycles have been retained, but no observable evidence for mental activity is evident; spontaneous motor activity is lacking; person appears to be aware but inactive. Exhibited by persons with high brain stem lesions. [Click Here to Return to List]

Alert - State of being watchful or ready. [Click Here to Return to List]

Alexia - Inability to read. [Click Here to Return to List]

Alter - To make different without changing into something else. [Click Here to Return to List]

Ambulate - To walk. [Click Here to Return to List]

Amnesia - Lack of memory about events occurring during a particular period of time. See also: anterograde amnesia, retrograde amnesia, post-traumatic amnesia. [Click Here to Return to List]

Aneurysm - A balloon-like deformity in the wall of a blood vessel. The wall weakens as the balloon grows larger, and may eventually burst, causing a hemorrhage. [Click Here to Return to List]

Anomia - Inability to recall the names of objects. Persons with this problem often can speak fluently but have to use other words to describe familiar objects. [Click Here to Return to List]

Anosmia - Loss of the sense of smell. [Click Here to Return to List]

Anoxia - A lack of oxygen. Cells of the brain need oxygen to stay alive. When blood flow to the brain is reduced or when oxygen in the blood is too low, brain cells are damaged. [Click Here to Return to List]

Anterograde Amnesia - Inability to consolidate information about ongoing events. Difficulty with new learning. [Click Here to Return to List]

Anticoagulation - Process of slowing down normal blood clottings and thus preventing blood clots from forming. Sometimes referred to as "thinning the blood". Common medications utilized to accomplish this are Coumadin and Heparin. [Click Here to Return to List]

Anticonvulsant - Medication used to decrease the possibility of a seizure (e.g., Dilantin, Phenobarbitol, Mysoline, Tegretol). [Click Here to Return to List]

Antidepressants - Medication used to treat depression. [Click Here to Return to List]

Apallic Syndrome - (This is an older, non-specific term.) The behavior that accompanies diffuse bilateral degeneration of the cerebral cortex that sometimes follows anoxic brain injury. It describes patients with absent cortical function but with relatively intact brain stem function. See Persistent Vegetative State. [Click Here to Return to List]

Apathy - A lack of interest or concern. [Click Here to Return to List]

Aphasia - Loss of the ability to express oneself and/or to understand language. Caused by damage to brain cells rather than deficits in speech or hearing organs. [Click Here to Return to List]

Aphasia, Expressive - Inability to find or formulate the words to express oneself even though knowing what one wants to say. [Click Here to Return to List]

Aphasia, Fluent - Characterized by spontaneous use of language at normal speed that conveys little meaning. [Click Here to Return to List]

Aphasia, Global - Severely limited residual ability to communicate with others. Includes both expressive and receptive aphasia. [Click Here to Return to List]

Aphasia, Non-fluent - Characterized by awkward articulation, limited vocabulary, hesitant, slow speech output, restricted use of grammatical forms and a relative preservation of auditory comprehension. [Click Here to Return to List]

Aphasia, Receptive - Problems in understanding what others attempt to communicate. [Click Here to Return to List]

Aphasia, Subclinical - Refers to evidence of impaired linguistic processing on testing, which is not obvious in casual interactions with the person. [Click Here to Return to List]

Aphemia - The isolated loss of the ability to articulate words without loss of the ability to write or comprehend spoken language. [Click Here to Return to List]

Apraxia - Inability to carry out a complex or skilled movement; not due to paralysis, sensory changes, or deficiencies in understanding. [Click Here to Return to List]

Apraxia, Constructional - Inability to assemble, build, draw, or copy accurately; not due to apraxia of single movements. [Click Here to Return to List]

Apraxia, Ideomotor - Deficit in the execution of a movement due to inability to access the instructions to muscles stored by previous motor experience. [Click Here to Return to List]

Arousal - Being awake. Primitive state of alertness managed by the reticular activating system (extending from the medullato the thalamus in the core of the brain stem) activating the cortex. Cognition is not possible without some degree of arousal. [Click Here to Return to List]

Art Therapy - Use of art techniques such as painting, crafts and group activities to develop motor skills, perceptual abilities and self-esteem. [Click Here to Return to List]

Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) - A "tangle" of blood vessels present from birth which may be prone to bleeding. [Click Here to Return to List]

Articulation - Movement of the lips, tongue, teeth and palate into specific patterns for purposes of speech. Also, a movable joint. [Click Here to Return to List]

Aspiration - When fluid or food enters the lungs through the wind pipe. Can cause a lung infection or pneumonia. [Click Here to Return to List]

Associated Reaction - A non-purposeful movement that accompanies another movement (e.g., patient's arm may bend involuntarily when the patient yawns). [Click Here to Return to List]

Astereognosia - Inability to recognize things by touch. [Click Here to Return to List]

Ataxia - A problem of muscle coordination not due to apraxia, weakness, rigidity, spasticity or sensory loss. Caused by lesion of the cerebellum or basal ganglia. Can interfere with a person's ability to walk, talk, eat, and to perform other self care tasks. [Click Here to Return to List]

Attendant Care - Provision of assistance in activities of daily living for a person with a disability. Daily number of hours of required assistance, either physical or supervisory. [Click Here to Return to List]

Atrophy - A wasting away or decrease in size of a cell, tissue, organ, or part of the body caused by lack of nourishment, inactivity or loss of nerve supply. [Click Here to Return to List]

Attention, Alternating - The ability to move attention appropriately from one area to another. It requires directional control, as well as capacity. [Click Here to Return to List]

Attention/Concentration - The ability to focus on a given task or set of stimuli for an appropriate period of time. [Click Here to Return to List]

Attention/Concentration, Arousal - The ability to respond consistently to sensory stimulation by eye opening, localizing, and tracking with head or eye movement. To assess a patient's level of arousal one might determine if the patient brushes away pinching fingers; or, if the eyes or head turns to a variety of sensory stimulis. [Click Here to Return to List]

Attention/Concentration, Distractibility - Refers to the patient's inability to sustain attention because of competing internal or external stimuli. The person with a brain injury may have decreased ability to inhibit competing responses. For example, a restrained patient may focus more on his arm restraint than on a task presented by a therapist; a patient asked to complete arithmetic problems may focus more on construction work taking place outside. [Click Here to Return to List]

Attention/Concentration, Length - Refers to the length of time a patient is able to focus on a given task. Complexity of task and patient fatigability will effect length of attention (attention span). [Click Here to Return to List]

Attention, Divided - Refers to an attentional task where the performer must attend to two or more inputs or activities at the same time, e.g., driving an automobile involves watching the road, mirrors, road signs, listening to a passenger or to the radio. [Click Here to Return to List]

Attention, Selective - Refers to selection of a particular action/task or train of thought, rather than others, as the focus of attention. [Click Here to Return to List]

Attention, Sustained - Refers to a person's ability to work on a particular task or train of thought over an extended period of time. [Click Here to Return to List]

Attention Span - The length of time one is able to concentrate on a task at hand. [Click Here to Return to List]

Attention to Task - Ability to focus on a given activity. [Click Here to Return to List]

Audiologist - One who evaluates hearing defects and who aids in the rehabilitation of those who have such defects. [Click Here to Return to List]

Augmentative and Alternative Communication - Use of forms of communication other than speaking, such as: sign language, "yes, no" signals, gestures, picture board, and computerized speech systems to compensate (either temporarily or permanently) for severe expressive communication disorders. [Click Here to Return to List]

Automatic Speech - Words said without much thinking on the part of the speaker. These may include songs, numbers, and social communication; or, can be items previously learned through memorization. Spontaneous swearing by individuals who did not do so before their injury is another example. [Click Here to Return to List]

Awareness - Consciousness of stimulation, arising from within or from outside the person. [Click Here to Return to List]

Awareness, Deficit - The patient's inability to recognize the problems caused by impaired brain function. [Click Here to Return to List]

Awareness, Level of - Rating by a qualified observer of the degree to which a patient is perceiving internal and external stimuli. [Click Here to Return to List]

ADL - Activities of daily living. Routine activities carried out for personal hygiene and health (including bathing, dressing, feeding) and for operating a household. [Click Here to Return to List]

 

 

 

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

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