Traumatic Brain Injury

Claudia Collyer

What is a TBI?

A TBI is due to an extreme external force, bump or blow, to the head that causes severe damage to the brain. A TBI disrupts normal brain activity and difficulty functioning. Depending on the accident the person's life can be filled with life long challenges or short term disabilities.
2. Brain Injury Basics and Anatomy of the Brain - Brain Injury 101

Major Characteristics and Deficits of a TBI

  • Characteristics:

    • Any period of time of loss/decreased level of consciousness
    • Any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the injury
    • Any change in mental state at the time of the injury (confusion, disorientation, slowed thinking)
    • Weakness, loss of balance, change in vision or other sensory alterations


    • Cognitive
    • Educational
    • Physical
    • Communication
    • Emotional/Behavioral
These characteristics interfere with a students learning ability, based on the accident and where their brain was damaged. Many typical interferences with learning are, they are unable to remember and retain information, unable to focus or loss of skills.

Very few students receive special education for a TBI (about 0.4%) and it is while they are healing or going through rehabilitation. About 48% attend a school day and only about 79% finish the day.


1.7 million people per year sustain a brain injury in the United States

Accommodations in Schools

Technology and creative thinking are good ways to get a student with a TBI involved and help regain skills.

  • Students with communication deficits can use voice output devices
  • Memory loss can be helped by keeping a memory book or use a tape recorder to note things to themselves during the day.
  • Labeling, Calendars, and Planners help students with cognitive deficits to help keep organized and on task.
  • Extra time because it takes them more time to process.

Accomodations at Home

The accommodations for home and school are very similar. It is all about repeating and practicing to regain skills.

  • Still going to need the same devices that would be used in school (voice output, tape recorder)
  • Have labels around the house to help with identifying and language.
  • Planners to help plan their day
  • Play with interactive apps to practice skills in a fun way
Children and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

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This is a great link that explains all types of apps to help people with brain injuries keep their mind active!

A specific one mentioned was Awesome Memory. Its a free app that helps rebuild memorization skills and is also fun and interactive where you can play against your friends.


  • Smith, D. D., & Tyler, N. C. (2014). Introduction to Contemporary Special Education. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, USA: Pearson Education.
  • Kreuzer, J. (2015). Accommodations guide for students with brain injury.

  • Center for disease control and prevention (2009). Facts about traumatic brain injury. Retrieved December 2015 from WETA