With TBI, Sometimes We Don't Know What We Don't Know
[Dr. Ann Glang] We have this large continuum of children
from very mild injuries to very severe injuries and everything in between.
For those kids with pretty severe injuries,
particularly if they go to a rehabilitation center—
and that's a small percentage—
they are transitioned back to school very well.
Everyone is aware of their challenges,
usually some assessment has happened,
there's usually a relatively good linkage
between the hospital and the school.
For the other 90% of kids, there's much less of a linkage,
and what tends to happen—
I'll use the example of the child who spends the night in the hospital.
They spend the night in the hospital, and that doesn't happen
unless they have a pretty significant injury.
They are discharged from the hospital,
but nobody at the hospital talks to the school.
It's usually the parents' responsibility to communicate,
"My child has had this event, and it may impact learning."
Much of the time, that doesn't happen,
because the family is not aware of all that could be
at play with an injury like this
and the affect on learning and behavior.
They're also so grateful that their child is better,
and they're discharged from the hospital and doing pretty well.
They don't always tell the school,
and then maybe down the road six months,
they realize there's some things going on here
that weren't present before that hospitalization,
and then maybe they start to have some things get put into play.
but many times, the school isn't even informed.
There are some models now, where there's some systems
being put in place so that the hospital and the school
are linked, and it's happening across the spectrum.
That's really a focus of research right now—
the importance of that.
One of the things that we found in some pilot work we did
with schools is that children are much more likely to be
identified for both formal and informal supports
if that knowledge gets communicated.
If nobody knows at school, then they're not going to put it in place,
but if they're informed and aware,
then some systems start moving.
Assessments happen and people come together
and say, "What does the child need?"
Unless that communication happens, it doesn't.
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Families and schools need to communicate in order to make sure potential injury-related learning problems are not overlooked in a child with TBI.
Produced by Noel Gunther, Justin Rhodes, and Erica Queen, BrainLine.
Ann Glang, PhD is a research professor and co-director of the Center on Brain Injury Research and Training (CBIRT), a center under the office of Research, Innovation and Graduate Education (RIGE) at the University of Oregon.
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