Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic Brain Injury typically are caused by motor vehicle crashes, sports injuries, or simple falls that occur on the playground, at work, or at home.
- An estimated 54-60 million cases of TBI occur each year worldwide
- An estimated 1.5 million head injuries occur every year in the United States alone
- Traumatic Brain Injury is the leading cause in death and disability in children and adults ages 1 to 44
- Males are twice as likely as females to experience TBI
- At least 5.3 Americans, 2% of the US population, currently live with a disability resulting from a TBI
Interference with Learning
There are four major sub-categories that may interfere with learning.
Physical- related to the body
- Muscle contractions
Cognitive- related to brain functioning
- Short-term memory problems
- Long-term memory problems
- Attention deficits
- Nonsequential thinking
Social/Emotional- related to mood and social skills
- Mood swings
- Lack of motivation
Educational- related to schoolwork
- Difficulty with multitask steps
- Requires consistent schedule and routine
- Needs distractions reduced
- Requires shortened assignments
- Must have lots of opportunities to practice new skills
Meet Alex Mullen
Students who deal with a Traumatic Brain Injury often have trouble paying attention or concentration. Here are three strategies that can help with focusing and concentration.
1. Reduce distractions in the student's work area
- Teachers should ask students to remove any extra pencils or books from the work space. Only the necessities for the assignment are needed. The less possible distractions, the more the student can concentrate on the assignment.
2. Divide work into smaller sections
- Teachers can ask students to complete one section at a time, and allow them to take breaks in between. Teachers and students can also work together to set realistic goals and expectations as to when assignments should be completed. This way the student does not feel rushed.
3. Use cue words
- Cue words such as "listen", "look", or "name" remind the student to stay on task and keep them alert.
These provide a visual aid as well as multiple, interactive ways to keep students on task
Interactive activities help students get out of their seats and promote kinesthetic learning.
Clear Work Area
A clear work area can ensure that students have limited distractions.
Accommodations for the Home
- The first step that parents should take is preparing the home while he or she is still in rehabilitation. Parents should discover information resources by using contacts provided by support groups or the rehabilitation center. In some instances, tools may need to be integrated into the home such as special equipment, wheelchair ramps, or bathroom equipment. Lastly, parents should seek information on Physical and Occupational therapists for their child.
Creating A Recovery-Friendly Environment
- Parents should ensure that there is no clutter, and that the house is well-organized. In order to achieve a recovery-friendly environment, there are three steps: structure, consistency, and repetition. Parents should get their child into a routine, setting up rooms in the same way each day. Wall charts and calendars are often found to be helpful.
- As this is an incredibly stressful experience, parents should be aware of how to handle agitation, irritability, and outbursts. Parents should keep surprises to a minimum, especially visitors. Parents should also work with their child to develop methods of compromise as often it is not their fault their child is in a bad mood. Lastly, parents should model calm behavior.
More Resources for Parents
Brain Trauma Foundation. (2007). TBI statistics. Retrieved from https://www.braintrauma.org/tbi-faqs/tbi-statistics/
Ferris State University. (n.d). Instructional strategies for teaching students with traumatic brain injury. Retrieved from http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/colleges/university/disability/faculty-staff/classroom-issues/traumatic-brain/TBI-ABI-strategy.htm
Mayo Clinic. (1985-2015). Diseases and conditions: Traumatic brain injuries. Rochester, MN. Mayo Foundations for Medical Education and Research.
National Head Injury Foundation. (1994). Making life work after traumatic brain injury. Florida: Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Department of Labor and Employment Security.
Richardson, E. (2014). The speech path for kids. Retrieved from http://thespeechpathforkids.com/?p=470
Smith, D.D., Tyler N.C. (2014). Introduction to contemporary special education: A new horizon. New York, NY: Person Education, Inc.
Teacher Synergy, Inc. (2013). Review game: Concentric circles for middle school. Retrieved from https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Review-Game-Concentric-Circles-for-Middle-School-Grades-5-6-7-8-9-433495
Vasicek, B. (2011). Squirrel! Distractions in the classroom. Retrieved from