Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Alexa Vecchio

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Traumatic Brain Injury occurs when an external, mechanical force causes brain damage and dysfunction. TBI usually results from a blow to the head or the body, and ranges in severity from mild to severe.

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

United States

  • An estimated 1.5 million head injuries occur every year in the United States alone

Other Information

  • 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
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Interference with Learning

There are four major sub-categories that may interfere with learning.

Physical- related to the body

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle contractions
  • Imbalance
  • Paralysis

Cognitive- related to brain functioning

  • Short-term memory problems
  • Long-term memory problems
  • Attention deficits
  • Disorganization
  • Nonsequential thinking

Social/Emotional- related to mood and social skills

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • 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
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Meet Alex Mullen

Our New Normal: Living With Brain Injury Following Prom Night Crash
Alex was getting ready for one of the most anticipated nights of her high school career- Junior Prom. What she thought was going to be an amazing night took a turn for the worst when she and a friend got into a car accident that night. Watch the video above to hear the Mullen family's story, and learn how Alex is coping with her TBI.

Classroom Accomodations

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.

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.

Handling Agitation/Irritability

  • 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

Awesome Memory is a fun application for the iPhone that enhances memory skills in a fun, colorful way. is a sharing space for those who have experienced Traumatic Brain Injury as well as their loved ones. This website includes stories, artwork, and advice.


Brain Trauma Foundation. (2007). TBI statistics. Retrieved from

Ferris State University. (n.d). Instructional strategies for teaching students with traumatic brain injury. Retrieved from

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

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

Vasicek, B. (2011). Squirrel! Distractions in the classroom. Retrieved from