Acquired brain injury

Expertise that transforms lives

CPA is recognised as the leading provider of evidence-based therapy, and quality of life programs and services for people living with neurological and physical conditions, including acquired brain injury.

We’ve been enabling positive outcomes and supporting clients for more than 70 years. Our expertise lies in the delivery of an evidence-based multi-disciplinary approach that enables clients to live their best life possible.

We offer a range of support services to help your child live life to their fullest potential.

When you choose CPA you will have access to:

  • The best health and wellbeing therapies for neurological support
  • High quality, evidence-based programs designed for acquired brain injury
  • Professional staff who are trained and experienced in working with acquired brain injury.

Early Childhood Intervention

Early intervention for your child’s fast track to intervention

CPA is the leading provider of Early Childhood Intervention for babies and children with a range of conditions. Using best practice early intervention principles and the latest international science in neuroplasticity, we provide the latest therapies and early learning programs. These interventions are designed to maximise outcomes, while providing significant and long lasting results.

Our programs are based on evidence and qualified research which interventions which lead to positive outcomes for people living with acquired brain injury.


Neuroplasticity experts giving you better outcomes sooner

At CPA, we provide a multi-discipline therapy service, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology and exercise physiology, as well as assistive technology and equipment prescription

Therapy can be provided individually, in a group program, or via intensive classes. Our team will work with you to find the right therapy for an individual’s needs.

Health and Wellbeing

Optimum health and wellbeing is key to achieving the best version of yourself

CPA offer gym programs, a range of fitness and sports and hydrotherapy services.

Our fully accredited exercise physiologists and personal trainers will work with you to tailor an exercise program for strength, flexibility and endurance so each individual can build and maintain physical fitness they need to enjoy life to the max.

Everyday Living

Expert assistance for every day

Live life your way, every day. At CPA, we offer support for seven days a week or just a few hours: whatever works for you. Whether it’s a companion for social, recreation or sporting activities, home support to manage bills or buy groceries, or personal care support, we’ll match you with someone you trust and feel safe around.

Your safety and wellbeing are always our highest priority, so all CPA support staff are experienced professionals, screened and trained to the highest level.

CPA provide Lifestyles Services – In and Out of Home and Community Based.

Life Coaching

Championing your life’s possibilities

Our experienced Life Skills Coaches are here to support you through every step of your journey. They’re experts at creating new experiences and opportunities for you to meet people, build skills and most importantly, develop your independence.

Whether it’s making friends, travelling overseas, getting a job or even uncovering your goals, CPA’s Life Skills Coaches can help ensure you find and reach your dreams.


Home to call your own

CPA supported accommodation is purpose-built, or modified, to create a safe, friendly and enjoyable environment for adults living with a permanent disability, and high or complex needs.

We’re passionate about making a house a home, so we focus on matching housemates based on both personally and disability profiles.

Home away from home

With fun experiences and the chance to make new friends, our short term accommodation (respite) houses provide much needed respite for children and adults living with a disability, while also giving families and carers a break.

Just like our longer term accommodation, all our houses are purpose-built, or modified, to create a safe, friendly and enjoyable environment.

Supported Employment

Maximising your employment potential

Employment is so important for our happiness, confidence and self-esteem. Packforce is CPA’s Supported Employment program, providing fulfilling work opportunities for people living with disability. Working with us gives you access to training that will maximise your employment potential, whilst having fun.

We provide whole-of life-support, are proud to offer Equal employment Opportunities and always encourage those from non-English speaking backgrounds, as well as school leavers and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders to apply.

Tailored support for your needs

Choosing CPA gives you access to the best health and wellbeing programs, therapies, support and staff. Knowing you have the best care and support allows you to focus on other key areas of your life, such as family, friends or work.

Your first appointment will begin with a personal consultation. During this meeting we take
the time to learn about you, your challenges and your goals. With this knowledge we create
a personalised plan of programs to help you achieve your goals.

Fully accessible facilities

Our facilities are fully accessible with a range of specialist equipment.
CPA has 20 locations across NSW and the ACT, including five fully accessibly CPA gym facilities located in Allambie Heights, Ryde, Prairiewood, Penshurst and Canberra. A fully accessible hydrotherapy facility is located at Allambie Heights.

These facilities allow us to offer individualised and group based programs tailored specifically for the needs of clients living with a wide range of physical and neurological conditions.

About acquired brain injury

An acquired brain injury can have a lasting impact on a person’s ability to move, communicate, think and remember, and can affect their life, work and relationships.

It happens when the brain is damaged any time after birth by an accident, by violence, by illness, by a stroke or by one of many other causes. The long-term effects of acquired brain injury vary from person to person, and depend on the extent of the damage.
A severe brain injury can leave people with permanent problems such as memory loss, difficulties with learning and thinking, and changes in their behaviour, emotions and personality. The person might need lifelong support and care from family members. Even if that’s the case, they might also be able to continue to learn and recover for many years.

There are many therapies and services available to help people with an acquired brain injury. While recovery can be very slow, people can learn to adapt and find new ways of doing everyday activities. Assistance is also available for families and carers of people with an acquired brain injury.

Because the brain is so central to life, people with an acquired brain injury can get a vast range of symptoms. These include general effects such as:

  • headaches and nausea
  • confusion that can come and go
  • dizziness and balance problems
  • problems with memory, concentration and attention
  • problems sleeping
  • problems with thinking and understanding.

Some people find changes to their personality and behaviour. They might be more distant, more aggressive, more emotionally fragile or more irritable than before. Some will be prone to depression and some will have mood swings.

Some people might also have:

  • paralysis
  • weakness in the arms or legs
  • seizures, fits or tremors
  • problems with eyesight
  • problems with the senses of smell or touch.

The type of brain injury will depend on the cause, the area of the brain that is injured and the extent of the damage.

There are many different causes of acquired brain injury, some sudden and gradual, including:

  • trauma due to vehicle accidents, falls, violence, crime, sport or war
  • stroke, when a blood vessel to the brain is blocked or bursts
  • diseases that affect the brain such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or AIDS
  • excess drugs or alcohol
  • poisoning by chemicals, pesticides or gases like carbon monoxide
  • brain tumours
  • lack of oxygen to the brain caused by things such as prolonged fits, heart attacks, near drowning or suicide attempts
  • infections that lead to inflammation of the brain, such as encephalitis.

Whatever the cause, the cells of the brain have become damaged either directly, or because their normal blood supply was interrupted for a time.

To reach a diagnosis of acquired brain injury, the person affected will need repeated physical examinations, and probably investigations such as computerised tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

Down the track, when the acute period is over, they might need a range of tests to plan rehabilitation. The tests might include:

  • CT and/or MRI scans
  • speech and language tests
  • cognition tests which look at thinking, reasoning and understanding capability
  • tests to see how they cope with daily tasks such as eating and dressing.


The person with the acquired brain injury might need treatment for the cause of the injury. For example, someone with a stroke might need urgent treatment to dissolve a clot. Or someone with an acquired brain injury due to HIV might need medication to treat the virus.

Otherwise, the mainstay of treatment is rehabilitation. The aim of rehabilitation is to allow the person affected to regain as much as possible of their physical, cognitive and sensory abilities so they can function as well as possible in the world.

Rehabilitation is likely to start as soon as possible, and is tailored to meet the needs of the individual. It may involve a range of therapy from a multidisciplinary team including:

  • occupational therapist
  • physiotherapist
  • speech pathologist
  • psychiatrist
  • exercise physiologist
  • psychologist or neuropsychologist
  • social worker
  • rehabilitation nurse
  • vocational counsellor
  • music or art therapist.

People whose disabilities continue might be referred to a special brain injury rehabilitation service – rehab can take place at home or at a specialised rehab unit.

People with an acquired brain injury might have rehabilitation for months or years. They can continue to improve throughout treatment, and can continue to improve long after rehabilitation finishes.

Everybody with an acquired brain injury is going to live their life in their own individual way. But there are some common issues that affect many, but not all, people with an acquired brain injury.

Some people will find it difficult to live independently and will need support, whether that be from their partner, from family, from friends, from a non-government and government agencies or from a combination. That support might include income support, accommodation, help with daily tasks and more.

Some people with an acquired brain injury will have changes to their mood, to their way of thinking, perhaps to their personality. If you care for someone with a brain injury, that can make it challenging for you. You might need to re-negotiate the relationship you had before. You might need to set clear boundaries. You might need to find ways to look after yourself, so you can provide all the support you want to. Carers Australia and the Carer Gateway are good places to start looking for support.

The person with the acquired brain injury might find it difficult to continue study and work in the way they did before. If you’re a carer, your work and/or study might be affected, too. Again, plenty of support is available.

It might affect their ability to drive. In Australia, people are required by law to inform the driving licensing authority in their state if they have a permanent illness that may impair their ability to drive safely. They could be asked to have a medical review to see if they are able to retain their driving licence.

If you’re an older person looking after an adult child with an acquired brain injury, you might be worried about the future. Again, Carers Australia is a good place to start.

You might also find it helpful to get in touch with  a support organisation such as the Brain Foundation or Brain Injury Australia.


Personal and nursing care

People with a severe acquired brain injury might need help from a carer with perform personal tasks such as eating, showering or dressing themselves. There might be times they need nursing care, and some will need long term nursing care.



Brain Injury Australia (what is a brain injury, disorders, Acquired brain injury, frequently asked questions about inflicted brain injury) HealthDirect (Acquired brain injury) Raising Children Network (Acquired brain injury) Better Health channel (Acquired brain injury).

Last updated November 2017


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