| Frequently Asked Questions | Classroom
What is ABI?
ABI, or acquired brain injury, is any type of sudden injury that
causes tempory or permanent damage to the brain. This damage is
most often associated with some kind of trauma to the head, but
can also occur as a result of other factors.
How does it occur?
The majority of the time the causes of ABI are associated with
motor vehicle collisions, however, there are serveral less common
ways that children and adolescents can acquire a brain injury such
- Falling (off bike, tree, ice skating)
- Near drowning
- Shaken Baby Syndrome
Who does it affect?
The prevalence of school age individuals in Ontario who have sustained
a brain injury and survived is approximately 27,000.
What can teachers do?
Teachers can become more informed about ABI so that they can provide
a safe and structured learning environment. They can also put some
simple procedures into place that will dramat"imagesove both
the classroom and child's future.
The deficits associated with ABI can be generalized into 3 main
categories that could include, but are not limited to any combination
of the following.
1. Cognitive Deficits
- Judgement: making poor decisions, impulsive judgements
- Initiation: appears to be lazy, requires consistent cues to
begin new tasks
- Problem Solving: poor planing, sequencing, lack of understanding
cause & effect, inability to consider alternate perspectives
or multiple variables
- Transfer of Learning: problems with learning, generalizing,
retaining new information, recalling previously learned information,
following through with things in the future
- Fatigue: cognitive fatigue or "brain drain"
- Perception: problems with hearing, seeing, sensing and interpreting
one's environment in a familiar way
- Memory: problems with retaining or learning new information
- Attention: problems with sustained concentration, staying on
task, distractibility, multi-tasking
2. Physical Deficits
- Speech, hearing, vision, taste, olfaction and perception
- Muscle spasticity, contracture
- Loss of fine motor control
- Paresis or paralysis
- Fatigue (exhaustion)
3. Behavioural and Emotional Deficits
- Agitation/Anxiety: sudden anger (short fuse), impulsivity, low
- Self-awareness: difficulty experiencing empathy, only aware
of their own needs, difficulty relating to their peers, unaware
of their behaviour and its impact on others
- Social Inappropriateness: disinhibition, socially inappropriate,
inability "imagesial cues, socially withdrawn, isolated
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Are all brain injuries the same?
A. No, brain injuries and the kinds of deficits that a person
will show are as different as the individuals they affect. Deficits
will vary depending on factors such as:
- The extent of the injury.
- The location of the injury.
- The persons pre-injury personality.
- The amount and type of rehabilitative services provided to the
Q. Does the brain heal?
A. The brain is made up of a unique set of cells called
neurons. Unlike other cells in the body, neurons do not reproduce
themselves. This means that when a neuron dies it does not heal
nor does a new one take its place. Therefore, this type of injury
is permanent. On the other hand, if the brain is bruised
(i.e. the neurons nucleus survives) as in concussions, then
. there can be complete recovery. In both cases, remaining neurons
continue to have the .. ability to learn new funtions and can therefore
compensate for other damaged neurons.
Q. How does the presentation of brain injury relate to development?
A. Some types of brain injuries can actually be disguised
because of developmental effects. For example, certain frontal lobe
functions are not developed nor required until a child is in grade
6 or 7. Therefore, if a child suffers a frontal lobe brain injury
in grade 1 or 2, the deficits that are a result of the injury may
not surface simply because the demand for that function has not
yet been made. Unfortunately by the time the deficits surface several
years later, they are no longer correlated to a brain injury and
therefore not dealt with . appropriately.
Q. Are children with brain injuries the same as children with
other types of learning disabilities?
A. No. The deficits associated with acquired brain injuries
are diverse and can vary as a function of site of injury and other
individualized charcteristics. Distinguishing between these different
conditions is important for successful teaching.
Q. Is it possible to address the needs of students with ABI
in the regular classroom?
A. Yes. With education, understanding and appropriate modifications
"imagesite possible and realistic to meet the needs of these students.
- Find out as much information on the student's injury and needs
- Identify the imperception/misperception.
- Emphasize funtional skills.
- Provide a low stimulus environment.
- Role play socially appropriate behaviour.
- Alter rules and techniques to allow age appropriate interactions
- Assist the student with organizational skills and staying on
task (break directions down into easy to follow steps).
- Allow for frequent breaks and rests if needed.
- Allow for extra time when completing assignments and while writing
- Repeat new information frequently.
- Offer a wide range of opportunities to practice new skills.
- Prepare ahead of time for transitions (library to gym, math
- Manage frustration levels (change tasks or redirect where appropriate).
- Maintain consistent and predictable rountines and provide clear
expections before starting any task.
- Educate staff members to both maintain consistency and to avoid
problems outside the classroom.
- Develop an individual education plan focused on the student's
- Communicate regulary with stakeholders (parents, medical personnel,
- Become more informed, as a teacher, about ABI.