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Learning Disabilities Injury of the Brain

Injury to the Brain is a Leading Cause of Learning Disabilities


Updated June 26, 2014

Male elementary school student bored in class
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Injury to the brain and related learning disabilities are a serious problem in our country. Brain injuries are on the rise. The American Academy of Neurology reports that as many as 1.5 million people have injuries to the brain in the United States. This type of injury is a major cause of death and disability for children and adults. More children die of brain injury each year than of any other injury. Most of these injuries are caused by injuries sustained in car accidents. Unfortunately, brain injuries resulting from ATV and motorcycle accidents (injuries with and without protective gear) are on the rise.

The term Brain Injury refers to brain damage resulting from physical trauma or injury occurring at any time after birth. The most common cause of brain injury is by accidental injury to the head, as in a car accident.

Concussion injury occurs from a sudden impact injury or from a strong whiplash injury as in a sudden stop when moving at high speeds. A contusion injury is a bruise on the brain.

A coup-contrecoup injury occurs when an additional injury happens to parts of the brain that are directly opposite from the initial impact injury. The brain sits within our skulls and is surrounded by a fluid-filled pocket between the brain and the skull walls. In an injury or accident, the initial impact causes injury to the impact site. The injured brain then moves within the skull and strikes the opposite side of the skull, causing the secondary injury. This type of injury occurs during sudden stops at high speeds and is also seen in victims injured by violent shaking, as in shaken baby syndrome. Further brain injury can occur should patients suffer a second traumatic blow before the first injury has healed.

Brain injuries range from mild to debilitating. Any person having an injury to the head should be given first aid and seen immediately by a doctor who can determine what critical care may be needed for the injury. The earlier the injury is treated, the more successful treatment can be. Signs of a possible brain injury include symptoms such as:

In cases of moderate to severe damage, seizures, coma, impaired behavior and thinking, and death may occur.

Learning Disabilities and the Brain Injured Student

Many students who sustain brain injuries have resulting learning disabilities. The type and severity of the disability depends on the seriousness of the injury and the part of the brain affected. If the student had a learning disability before the injury, it is possible that learning disability may worsen.

Educational Program Development for Brain Injuries and Learning Disabilities

Treatments for injuries vary, depending on the type and severity. Medical interventions may include surgery, long-term hospitalization and therapies such as physical, occupational, and speech. The patient's first year following the injury is considered as most important to improve the long-term outlook for recovery.

To develop an appropriate individual educational program, it is important for educators to work with the physicians treating the student to develop a transition plan to assist with moving her back into the classroom setting. It is also important for everyone working with the injured student to continue to communicate throughout the first year of recovery to exchange information and develop the most appropriate strategies for teaching.

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