Traumatic Brain Injury- TBI

John Gipe- Towson University

What is TBI?

Traumatic brain injury is an injury to the brain caused by an external force that occurs after birth. This can result in an impairment in cognitive and/or physical abilities, which may impact one's ability to learn.

Some Causes Include:

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents
  • Falls
  • Recreation (sports)
  • Violence
  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

Living With TBI

TBI - Concussions: Amy's Story

Major Characteristics of TBI

  • Headache
  • Visual Disturbance
  • Memory Loss
  • Poor Attention/Concentration
  • Sleep Disturbance
  • Feelings of Depression
  • Seizures


It's estimated that around 1.7 million cases of TBI occur in the United States annually and 54-60 million cases occur worldwide annually.

How TBI Can Interfere With Learning:

Physical- relating to the body

  • Paralysis
  • Impaired Motor Skills
  • Poor Body Coordination
  • Motor Speech

Behavioral- relating to behavior

  • Inability to engage in purposive activity
  • Social Skills
  • Impulsivity
  • Lack of insight into behavior and its consequences

Cognitive- relating to knowledge

  • Impaired attention and concentration
  • Impaired problem-solving and decision-making skills
  • Slowed information processing
  • Poor organization, planning, and sequencing abilities
  • Impulsive thinking without regard for consequences
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Difficulties Related to TBI

  1. Behavior and social problems in children with TBI are related to poor executive executive functioning.
  2. They may also have problems with organization-- planning, prioritizing, analyzing tasks, and completing a sequence of activities.

Accommodations in the Classroom

  • Use direct statement to tell students to start a behavior rather than to stop the behavior: Allows the student to know what is expected before they do something wrong
  • Provide external devices and cues: Allows students to stay organized, for memory, and motor deficits
  • Avoid time limits on testing: Can lessen anxiety and stress
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Strategies and Modifications in the Classroom and at Home

  • Careful thought about order of presentations: routine is key
  • Provide small group instruction
  • Structure student's activities and schedule: limits number of changes and reduces unstructured time
  • Minimize extraneous auditory and visual stimulation: use study carrels or room dividers

For Additional Information


Balsiger, L. (n.d.). Traumatic Brain Injury Effects and Impacts. Retrieved April 18, 2015, from

Burkhardt, S., & Rotatori, A. (2011). History of Traumatic Brain Injury. In Advances in Special Education (Vol. 21). Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Faul, M., Coronado, V., Wald, M., & Xu, L. (2010, January 1). Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States. Retrieved April 19, 2015, from

Learn about TBI, Characteristics of TBI. (2015). Retrieved April 19, 2015, from