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A normal brain sends messages via nerves to all parts of the body, signaling them to carry out their functions. These functions include everything from regulating breathing, heart rate, body temperature and metabolism to facilitating cognitive thought, vision, hearing, sense of smell, and the sensation of touch. Every section of the brain has its own tasks; if a section is injured, the entire system can be thrown off.

When a brain is injured, it cannot adequately carry out all functions as it did before. Nerves and neurons may not be able to deliver their messages, thereby affecting speech, bodily movement, thought processes, personality, and internal functions, such as blood pressure and bladder control. Such injury is called a brain injury.

In New Mexico, the state makes a distinction between two types of brain injury: traumatic brain injury (TBI) and acquired brain injury. Both can have devastating, permanent effects and can even cause death.

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