A brain injury may be the result of a trauma to the head acquired after birth. Traumatic brain injury can be confined to one area of the brain or may involve more than one area. A brain injury can occur from a number of causes, such motor vehicle accidents, falls and sports injuries. Other potential causes of injury could include stroke, aneurisms, seizures and infectious diseases.
Epilepsy refers to a condition in which seizures can occur chronically and repeatedly as a result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Seizures are sudden, brief, temporary states due to uncontrolled brain electrical discharges. For many adults, epileptic seizures may be largely or wholly controlled by anticonvulsant medications. Seizure activity is often exacerbated by stress.
The effects of brain injury my have on an individual can vary from one person to another. Activities that were once automatic may now require a much greater effort. Some common impairments an individual may experience are:
- Cognitive: memory, concentration, information processing speed, planning, problem solving, multi-tasking, reasoning, communication and lack of insight
- Social/Emotional: agitation, anger, anxiety, depression, irritability, mental inflexibility, mood swings, poor social awareness, reduced motivation, rigidity
- Physiological: sleep patterns, mental fatigue, headache, energy levels, appetite disturbances, personality alterations/behavior, sensory (loss of taste and smell).
Suggested instructional strategies and accommodations
- Provide a course outline and reading list several weeks in advance of course start to assist students with arrangements for having reading material audio-taped.
- Provide handouts of formulas, or allow the student to copy materials such as overheads and/or class notes ahead of time.
- Recognize that some students may require the use of a tape recorder or note-takers.
- Organize information sequentially to increase the student’s ease in course comprehension.
- Provide a brief summary of the previous class at the beginning of each lecture to make sure students are clear on the important concepts.
- Provide a list of readings as early in the term as possible.
- Allow for scheduled breaks during long lecture sessions, tests, and exams.
- Allow for the possibility of written assignments in lieu of oral presentations (or vice versa).
- Discuss in appropriate classroom behaviour with the student privately, directly outlining limits of acceptable conduct, or refer the situation and student to Accessibility Services
- Consider allowing take-home tests and/or exams in place of in-class assignments.