Traumatic Brain Injury

By: Erica Parker

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What is TBI?

Traumatic Brain Injury occurs when an external, mechanical force causes brain damage and dysfunction.

TBI usually occurs from a blow to the head or body.

The two types of brain injury are closed head injuries and open head injuries.

Closed head injuries result from injuries that do not directly penetrate the skull.

Open head injuries result from direct penetration to the skull.

50 first dates - Lucy Watches Video
In this clip from 50 First Dates, Drew Barrymore acts as a young lady who suffers from TBI because of a traumatic car accident. Her injury causes her to forget everything after 24 hours of her day goes by. This clip shows how her family adjusted her daily routine and created a movie of her life for her to wake up to every morning. This is a perfect example of how a family can support their loved one who may have undergone a TBI.


There are four different characteristics of TBI: Cognitive, Physical, Social/Emotional, and Educational.

Cognitive characteristics include: short or long term memory loss (like in the movie clip), disorganization, non-sequential thinking, and attention deficits

Physical characteristics include: headaches, fatigue, imbalance, paralysis

Social/Emotional characteristics include: depression, mood swings, anxiety

Educational characteristics include: requiring a consistent schedule, trouble with multi-tasking, requires shortened assignments, and requires less distractions

Prevalence Rate

TBI is not very common. Combined with deaf-blindness and multiple severe disabilities, there is only 0.25% of all students affected.
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How TBI Affects Learning

A lot of people believe the misconception that one person can suffer from a TBI and forget who they are or not recognize others but still be normal in every other way.

This is false, when one suffers from a TBI they experience their lives completely differently than they used to. Some can be worse than others, but a lot of times people wake up and have to relearn their ability to function regularly.

This includes learning how to walk, converse, basic math and reading skills, etc.

In a classroom, they will be set back further than they once were and may not ever reach the ability that they used to have.

For example, short term memory loss will conclude in a student not being able to properly store new information that they are learning.

Depression will cause a student to lack the motivation to do well in school that they need.

Headaches will cause the student to not be as attentive as they used to because they're not feeling well.

Having trouble with multi-tasking results in not being able to take notes efficiently.

How To Help With Short Term Memory Loss

  • The teacher can post reminders about upcoming important dates -- this will allow for the student to turn assignments in on time
  • Graphic organizers to help organize and aid memory loss -- this will help the student clearly read their notes and take in the information easier
  • Multiple choice tests -- this allows for elimination of wrong answers or recognition of the write answers to help the student do better on tests
  • Use flashcards -- this is a direct focus on memorizing important terms and concepts for the curriculum
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There is also an app called "Awesome Memory" that is a fun and simple way to help a student with TBI to aid their memory.

This app is a card game where all of the cards begin facing down. The players will go against each other to flip two cards facing up. Who ever matches the most cards wins the game.

For more apps or ideas to help with characteristics of TBI:

Accommodations At Home

  • Practice routines in the household -- this will help to remind them what their day consists of and hopefully begin remembering their schedule
  • Do not punish as often, try to use more positive reinforcement if they are acting out -- this will allow for them to realize the good that they do more than the bad because sometimes they might not understand what they are doing wrong
  • Provide positive things to say to help gain back self-esteem -- this will help them start to feel good about their situation and themselves again. A higher self-esteem will create a more enjoyable life for them

For more information on how to adjust your home:

For more accommodations...

This website gives a clear and concise definition of TBI and its characteristics. It also lists accommodations that teachers or parents can use in their daily routine to help someone with TBI succeed and function normally in their lives again.

This website includes background and important information about people suffering from TBI. Not only that, there are an immense amount of accommodations listed along with apps and other resources to help these students. There is also information on how families and professionals help support their loved ones with TBI. This website is helpful because it includes everything anyone should know about TBI or want to know to help people suffering from TBI.

This website will help with finding extra accommodations or modifications usable for students with TBI. The list is clear and concise, and also includes other links that inform people more about what TBI really is and how it affects an individual.


Accommodations Guide for Students with Brain Injury. (2015, January 1). Retrieved April 28, 2015, from

Smith, D., & Tyler, N. (2014). Physical And Health Disabilities. In Introduction to contemporary special education: New horizons. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson Education