An Acquired Brain Disability is one which results from some external cause, such as an accident, illness, or drugs, and reduces the brain's ability to function. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Stroke are two of the most common causes of this type of disability. Any function of the brain may be involved, such as perception, language, memory, problem-solving, abstract reasoning, or motor skills.
Brain injury results in three major types of impairments:
1. Physical problems (such as full or partial paralysis);
2. Cognitive (thinking and comprehending) impairments; and
3. Behavior disorders.
There is a great variability in the effects of head injury on different individuals but most injuries result in some degree of impairment in the following functions: memory, cognitive/perceptual communication, speed of thinking, communication, spatial reasoning, conceptualizing, executive functions (goal setting, planning, etc.), psycho-social behaviors, and motor, sensory and physical abilities. In a learning situation, there will be many similarities to people with Learning Disabilities in that a person with TBI may have problems with attention, memory, impulse control, organization, skill integration, generalization, abstract reasoning, and social judgment. However, such individuals may fully maintain other capacities.
Many techniques that help someone with a Learning Disability will also benefit those with an acquired brain injury. The following is a list of other considerations that will be helpful in your interactions.
1. Avoid over stimulation. The person may fatigue quickly or become agitated and confused.
2. Be consistent. A consistent approach can help improve memory, reduce confusion, foster language skills, and promote emotional control.
3. Stay calm. Observing others calmness can help to reduce the personšs confusion and agitation.
4. Give step-by-step directions. This approach lessens fatigue and confusion, improves memory, and gives the person a sense of success in completing a task.
5. Do not talk down to the person. Talk with the person at a level appropriate to their age and level of understanding.
6. Avoid arguments and stressful situations. Remember that people are particularly sensitive to stress after a brain injury.
7. Allow response time. These people usually take longer to respond to a question or join in a conversation.
8. Remember to praise. When we tell employees how pleased we are with their progress, this promotes further improvement.
9. Try to incorporate frequent repetition of information to be learned and emphasize the use of memory cues such as calendars, daily logs, etc.