Effects from a brain injury can be physical, psychological, cognitive, and behavioral -- all of which can impact academic performance. A student with a brain injury may experience difficulties with short or long-term memory and retaining/retrieving information. Communication skills may be affected in either the expressive or receptive modes. Some motor impairment may also be evident. Behavioral changes can include inability to manage stress and control temper.
It is important to remember that:
- A person with a brain injury is a person first.
- No two brain injuries are exactly the same.
- The effects of a brain injury are complex and vary greatly from person to person
- The effects of a brain injury depend on such factors as cause, location, and severity.
With accommodations, often similar to those made for students with learning disabilities, a student with a brain injury can succeed at the university level.
Students with brain injuries often have trouble remembering, especially new information. It is important to know that helping students remember better is not just having them do the same thing over and over again. (How many of us remember what the Lincoln head side of a penny looks like even though we have seen hundreds of pennies in our lives?)
To help a student remember better, try these cognitive strategies:
- Make sure the student is paying attention. Make direct eye contact with the student whenever you are teaching new information.
- Couple and connect new information with previously learned information.
- Try to make the information to be learned meaningful and functional.
- Match the student’s learning style (e.g., visual learner) with the teaching method.
- Frequently summarize information as it is being taught, using overlapping techniques such as repetition and rehearsal.
- Use pictures, diagrams, and charts to reinforce what is being learned.
- Control the amount of new information that is being presented.
- Give multisensory presentations of new information.
- Teach the student how to organize new information for better memory retention.
- Teach the student to use a databook for notes, assignments, appointments.
The K-State Speech and Hearing Center can provide some support to students with communication issues associated with brain injury. Contact Center Director Melanie Hilgers at 785-532-6879. Dr. Jane Mertz Garcia leads a local support group for individuals with brain injuries and can be reached at 532-1493.