Therapies in School for Students with Brain Injuries

Therapies in School for Students with Brain Injuries

Erika L. Rossi, O.T.R./L., Pam Fleming, M.A.,CCC-SLP., Leanne Pompeo, P.T. and Ron Savage, Ed.D.
Therapies for students with traumatic brain injury (TBI) in school have different goals and resources than therapy in rehabilitation programs. This tip card explains how physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech and language pathologists work with educators and students with brain injuries in schools.
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Full Description

By using therapies in school, the student with a brain injury (TBI) can improve positioning in the classroom and use strategies for visual and auditory attention. By creating a “brain injury friendly environment,” therapists and educators can help the student with learning and classroom performance. This shows how to develop supportive strategies and services to help the student succeed.

Pages 8
Year Second edition, 2009


Ron Savage, Ed.D.

He is President of the North American Brain Injury Society (NABIS). Dr. Savage specializes in the impact of brain injury on behavior and learning in children, adolescents and young adults. His international recognition as author and presenter is based on practical experience as a rehabilitation clinician and educator. Dr. Savage is also the Chairman and Co-Founder of the International Pediatric Brain Injury Society (IPBIS).


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

  • develop supportive strategies and services
  • facilitate a “brain injury friendly” environment

When and Why?

Help at School

  • Speech and language pathology
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy

“Brain Injury-Friendly” Environment

Brain Injury-Friendly Environment Checklist

  • Positioning in the classroom
  • Strategies for improving visual attention
  • Strategies for improving auditory attention
  • Strategies to enhance learning
  • Strategies for improving the student’s ability to transition




Sample excerpt. Preview only – please do not copy.

When and Why?

Many students with moderate to severe brain injuries have difficulties with learning new information, remembering old information, communicating, behaving appropriately, tolerating a multi-sensory environment, and physically participating in activities. Therapies at school can help the student learn more effectively, interact with classmates, and function within the school environment. School-based therapy is different than therapies provided in the hospital or rehabilitation setting; it is designed to help the student develop the skills and abilities needed to function and learn in school.

“Brain Injury-Friendly” Environment

The typical noisy and busy school environment can overload the neurological and cognitive systems of a student with a brain injury. This makes it harder for these students to attend to, understand and interpret information. Impulses become harder to control. Frustration may trigger explosive behaviors. The auditory and visual cues and responses that most of us readily interpret get confused so the student is uncertain how to respond to others and new situations. Setting up and maintaining a well-organized environment can help the student with a brain injury by minimizing distractions.