Traumatic Brain Injury Research Paper Sample

Traumatic Brain Injury Research Paper

In this paper we are going to study the notion of traumatic brain injury of children and teenagers, define its symptoms and main consequences, the possible influence of this injury upon the learning process and the necessary methods, that should be applied by the teachers in order to help such children to get over the mental and psychological difficulties they will face.

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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines traumatic brain injury as “an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance” (Hughes, 2000).Traumatic brain injury can be also referred to as head injury and is the result of unexpected trauma, followed by brain damage. Trauma can be close and penetrating as well. The scope of damage to the brain defines the type of the symptoms of TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), they include mild, moderate and severe (Tucker, 2003). Not all symptoms can become obvious immediately, some emerge only several days or even months later. After this kind of injury the patient is luckily to suffer from headaches, movement disorders, seizures, difficulty walking, lethargy and even coma (Hughes, 2000). There are also problems with memory and mathematics. Emotions of such patients are not stable any more, they are disposed to agitation, mood changes, depression, delusions and so on.

General results of TBI can be of different types and continuation. Traumatic brain injury might result in one of the six types of states of consciousness: stupor, coma, persistent vegetative state, minimally conscious state, locked-in syndrome, and brain death (Tucker, 2003).

Practically all patients after traumatic brain injury suffer from cognitive disabilities, and lose a lot of metal skills. It was already mentioned, that they can forget some things and facts and sometimes even face difficulties with forming new memories. Most of the patients can not concentrate and their attention is constantly distracted; it is difficult for them to make judgments and solve problems. This doesn’t mean, that cognitive problems will remain forever – by some of the patients improvements are evident within half of the year.

Patients after TBI also experience difficulties with language and communication. If the part of the brain, corresponding for speech muscles was harmed, then the patients may have difficulties with speaking. A patient thus can clearly think of an idea, but can not form it in words, as his muscles do not operate in the proper way. As a result the whole flow of speech is rather slow and faltering. Sometimes even the intonation is different from usual.

Apart of physical difficulties, patients after TBI experience emotional problems. They suffer from apathy, depression, irritability, anger, anxiety, paranoia, confusion, agitation, insomnia, frustration, or other sleep problems, and mood swings (Hughes, 2000). One of the most serious problems for children after TBI is stagnation in development socially and psychologically. Very often one of the possible consequences of TBI is mental retardation “a pattern of persistently slow learning of basic motor and language skills (“milestones”) during childhood, and a significantly below-normal global intellectual capacity as an adult” (Tucker, 2003). Children and teenagers remain later at the same level of development, which can not be appropriate for adults. These patients need proper medications and psychotherapy. Generally treatment programs for patients with TBI certainly depend upon the type of the injury. The specialists consider the first year after the injury to be the most important for the future forecasts concerning recovery perspectives.

Children and students with TBI can suffer from learning disabilities, mental retardation or emotional disturbance, because not all educational professional are aware of the consequences of such kind of trauma for their students and teaching techniques that should be applied in this case (Gerring, 1995). TBI should be considered as a separate type of mental disability and schools should work out special education programs for such students. This is evident, that when children come back to school or college after TBI, their educational capacity changes greatly and their emotional state has a significant impact upon their educational process and perception of the material. For most of these children returning to school turns out to be a rather painful procedure, because they will have to face a number of difficulties. First of all the process of learning is based on perception of new information and remembering the new facts, and children after TBI have problems with short memory. Secondly, children have energy limit and thus this can be also not easy for them to remain active the whole school day and to cope with all the tasks as quickly as it is done by their peers. Even if they do well in the morning, they can easily get tired by afternoon. And the third vitally important problem is connected with communication, children pay a lot of attention to their relations with schoolmates and friends at school. Children and teenagers returning to school or college could be even more concentrated on renewal of their former social relations than on studying.

Functioning of children with traumatic brain injury only superficially can be compared to that of children born handicapped, but in reality it is very important to split innate disabilities from the acquired. Usually it is really difficult for the children after TBI to get used to their state, as they could remember themselves before the trauma, mostly this is problematic for children with congenital disability. Speaking about practical problems, which can be faced by children after TBI, we have to mention, that they have difficulties with logical thinking and reasoning; their reactions are rather slow and they can hardly concentrate on something; often these children are confused by some challenging task. On the other hand, it is really important to remember and never underestimate the potential for development (Tucker, 2003).

In order to support a child, a student in this situation, it is necessary to build a link between rehabilitation center and education specialists at school for better planning and organization of the activities of the child after TBI. This is exactly the job of educators together with physicians to work out the corresponding Individual Education Program in order to be able to guarantee smooth and quick transition of the student back to learning process. “It is also important for everyone working with the student to continue to communicate throughout the first year of recovery to exchange information and develop the most appropriate strategies and Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) for the student’s unique needs” (Gerring, 1995). Some students would need rehearsal of the already learnt material; others could have problems with memory, like for example forgetting the studied materials on the same day. There are some main principles to be used in the educational process by the teachers, when working with children after traumatic brain injury:

the materials should be repeated several times and with proper coordination
the instructions for exercises should be clear and supported by examples and illustrations
figurative language should not be used
teachers should work on correspondence of tasks and the period of longer attention span
the acquired skills of the students should be checked and practiced
specific methods and techniques for improving memory should be used
teachers should control the physical state of the students and organize breaks for rest
there should be as less as possible distractive factors for the students.

Children after TBI can feel, that the attitude to them changed because of their health problems and this can negatively influence their self-esteem. In order to avoid such problem teachers should make reachable aims for their students, corresponding to their strengths, and give them the possibility to be successful in completing the task.

There was a number of researches conducted, aimed at investigation of efficiency of early rehabilitation during learning process for children and teenagers. “Of these, one study suggests that early, thorough physical and occupational therapy evaluations that include bone scans may serve to identify otherwise undetected musculoskeletal trauma and heterotopic ossification, indirectly arguing for early physiatry intervention. Authors suggested that the difficulties in communication unique to TBI warrant special methods for detecting physical trauma in people with TBI” (Gerring, 1995).

Overall, we studied all the main matters, connected with traumatic brain injury, its signs and symptoms, risk factors and possible consequences; difficulties that children and teenagers could experience when returning to normal learning activity; the main issues that educators, working with children after TBI, should be aware of; main principles and possible techniques they could use in their work in order to get the best possible results and to help their students not to be behind their healthy peers. This is evident, that in order to succeed, teachers, dealing with such children, should work out and apply special programs and should be able to provide the necessary psychological support along with theoretical knowledge. Although there are a lot of researches and literature devoted to the problem of TBI, there are still plenty of problems to be solved and investigated in this field.

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