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Traumatic Brain Injury
"the silent epidemic"

IDEA Def:  An acquired brain injury caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairments
*Definition excludes anoxia and disease, as well as congenital conditions

Types of TBI

closed head injury
     results when the brain whips back and forth during an accident

postconcussional syndrome (mild traumatic brain injury) - a mild closed head injury that may not show damage on medical tests but results in changes in personality or cognitive functioning.

  May result in problems with:  memory, learning new information, attention and concentration, information processing speed and capacity, executive functions such as planning and establishing priorities, and disruptions to emotional centers of the brain.  

  Other characteristics include the following:

     Becomes restless or fussy
     Doesn't pay attention
     Forgets things
     Gets mixed up about time and places
     Takes longer to get things done
     Doesn't act the same
     Acts without thinking
     Becomes easily upset
     Loses his or her temper a lot
     Tires easily or needs extra sleep
     Doesn't see or hear as well
     Drops things or trips a lot
     Develops problems with words or sentences
     Has a harder time learning

open head injury
     results when a specific area or focal point of the brain is injured
     generally only affects those functions controlled by the injured part of the         brain

*Characteristics are dependent on the site and extent of the injury, length of time in coma, and the student's maturation.

Physical Changes
*Most changes are temporary or compensated for through rehabilitation
     experience seizures (20% of traumatic brain injuries)
     spasticity or paralysis
     growth related problems
     sleep disorders
     coordination problems
     physical weakness
     vision or hearing impairments
     changes in senses of taste, touch and smell

Cognitive Changes
     attention and concentration deficits
     long- or short-term memory limitations
     difficulty with reasoning and problem solving
     slowed processing
     problems with academic skills that were previously satisfactory
     poor judgement
     lack of foresight
     planning and sequencing is difficult

Linguistic Changes
     problems with receptive and written language communication are often         long-term
     learning new concepts and vocabulary may be challenging
     aphasia: problems with speaking or total loss of speech, often caused by TBI,     lack of oxygen, stroke, or an illness that causes brain swelling
     problems understanding language
     socialization is difficult due to inability to perceive voice inflections and         nonverbal clues

Social, Behavioral, and Personality Changes
     euphoria, temper outbursts, restlessness, irritability, anxiety, fatigue
     depression (15-20% of brain injury survivors)
     inability to initiate tasks
     disinhibition:  an inability to inhibit inappropriate behavioral responses
     poor self-monitoring skills
     poor coping and social skills

     at least 50% survive
     those with mild head injuries may have negligible effects and little change         over a 3-year period
     those with most severe injuries show the highest initial deficits and highest         improvements at one year
     lifetimes effects are present for 10% of those with mild head injuries, 33-50% of     those with moderate injuries (coma less than 24 hrs), and 80% of those with     severe injuries (coma more than 24 hrs)


Brain injury includes both congenital and acquired brain injuries

Causes of traumatic brain injuries (2000):
motor vehicle crashes (51%)
falls (21%)
assaults and violence (12%)
sports and recreation (10%)
other (6%)

     shaken-impact syndrome:  caretaker becomes frustrated and loses control, shakes the child violently to make the child stop crying (in 10-25% of cases, the child dies)

Teaching Students with Traumatic Brain Injury


Goals aim to…
recover lost abilities, skills, and knowledge
compensate for nonrecoverable skills
accept and adjust to the new person they are becoming

Cognitive retraining - helps students regain perceptual processing, communication, behavioral, and social skills that were lost as a result of traumatic brain injury

Component training - a form of cognitive retraining that provides students who have TBI with intensive and systematic training of specific cognitive skills such as memory, attention, organization, and perceptual processing

Compensatory strategy training - a form of cognitive retraining that helps students who have TBI to clarify, remember, organize, and express information

Functional retraining - a form of cognitive retraining that uses everyday curriculum and activities of a student with TBI to teach cognitive skills

Computer Use and simulation software

Methods - Instructional

     instructional times should be kept short with frequent repetition
     memory notebook (an electronic or paper organizer)
     errorless learning:  Involves memorization - Gives student the correct answer,     tell him to say it and write the answer on the paper)
     emphasize major points and use a variety of modalities (auditory, visual,         kinesthetic, tactile)

Methods to Improve Behavior
     minimize common distractors such as background noise, movement, clutter,     and harsh colors
     increasing predictability in daily routines
     decreasing demands that stress the student's current coping skills
     matching educational expectations to the student's cognitive functioning     skills
     Personal Intervention Plan:  includes information on what triggers inappropriate behavior, the typical behaviors displayed by the student, the desired behaviors, goals for achieving the behaviors, and supports the student needs to achieve the goals
     Self-modeling: the teacher videotapes the student exhibiting appropriate or     exemplary behaviors
     Sit the student near compliant students
     Describe the desired behavior specifically
     Preplan negative consequences for noncompliance with the student
     Follow compliance with immediate praise
     Differential reinforcement of other behavior:  encourages appropriate         behavior by reinforcing a positive behavior that is incompatible with the         undesired behavior.  The focus is on praising good behavior rather than         punishing inappropriate behavior.