Back to School after a Moderate to Severe Brain Injury

Back to School after a Moderate to Severe Brain Injury

Roberta DePompei, Ph.D., Jean Blosser, Ed.D., Ron Savage, Ed.D. and Marilyn Lash, M.S.W.
A student with a moderate or severe brain injury can have learning challenges on returning to school. This tip card has information to help parents, therapists and educators prepare for the studentís return. It includes checklists for sharing medical and educational information with educators to assess the impact of the brain injury on physical, cognitive and social skills. The category of traumatic brain injury under the special education law is explained.
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Full Description

After a moderate or severe brain injury, the studentís transition back to school after a hospital or rehabilitation stay is the next phase of rehabilitation and recovery. This tip card has strategies to help schools receive useful information about brain trauma, educate staff about the cognitive effects of brain injury, and prepare classmates for the studentís return. It emphasizes including parents as partners with school staff in the studentís educational planning.

For more on learning and cognitive challenges and teaching strategies, see the manual Students with Brain Injuries .

Pages 8
Year Third edition, 2011


Jean Blosser, Ed.D.

She is Vice President for Therapy Programs and Quality with a special focus on school-based and early intervention services. Her extensive clinical work and publications have focused on the needs of students and children with impairments in cognitive communication due to acquired brain injuries.

Roberta DePompei, Ph.D.

Dr. DePompei is Department Chairman, Professor and Clinical Supervisor at the Speech and Hearing Center at the University of Akron in Ohio. An advocate of the needs of youths with brain injuries and their families, she is on numerous national task forces and committees. Widely published and a national and international presenter, Dr. DePompei specializes in the impact of brain injury upon speech, language and communication. She is especially interested in developing transitional opportunities for youth as they progress through school and prepare for adulthood.

Ron Savage, Ed.D.

Dr. Savage specializes in the impact of brain injury on behavior and learning in children and adolescents. His international recognition as author and presenter is based on practical experience as a rehabilitation clinician, educator and school administrator.

A leader in advocacy for children with brain injuries, Ron founded the Pediatric Task Force of the Brain Injury Association. He is a national leader in developing model programs and has given special attention to recognizing the effects of concussion among children, the consequences of brain injury upon behavior, and designing educational programs for students with brain injuries in the community.

Marilyn Lash, M.S.W.

Ms Lash uses her social work experience and research in pediatric rehabilitation to develop sensitive and practical guides for families, educators, and professionals. Her specialty is helping families cope with the emotional impact of brain injury and developing strategies for negotiating the complex service system. Now President and Senior Editor of Lash and Associates Publishing/Training, she focuses on developing user friendly publications for families, educators, and clinicians.


This tip card helps parents, therapists and educators...

  • prepare for the studentís return to school
  • share medical & educational information
  • refer the student for special education

Back to School

Special Education

  • Tips for learning about this law

Sharing information with the school

  • Tips on what to let them know


  • Tips for rehabilitation staff

Getting information to the school

  • Supply written records
  • Tips for getting useful information
  • Arrange in-services
  • Tips for educating school staff
  • Prepare classmates
  • Tips for easing your childís return to school

Parents are the Link with the School

  • Tips for sharing information



Sample excerpt. Preview only Ė please do not copy.

Back to School

Moderate to severe brain injury may result in a coma that lasts for hours, days or weeks. Children with these injuries are at higher risk for difficulties with learning, communication, behaviors or physical skills.

School becomes the next major challenge after coming home from the hospital or rehabilitation program. The long-term effects of brain injury are hard to predict and often change over time. Some changes are temporary; others last longer.

Few students, families or educators know what to expect. The child may be nervous about keeping up with classmates and making up missed school work. Classmates may wonder how their friend will look and act. Teachers may question whether the child can still learn and how best to teach. Parents may worry whether their child is even ready to go back to school.

Special Education

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that provides special education and related services to students with disabilities and conditions that affect learning. Every state has a law of education that meets the federal requirements and may even provide additional services.

IDEA includes a special category of traumatic brain injury which helps schools:

  • identify students with special needs as the result of brain injuries
  • recognize that students with brain injuries have unique needs

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