Typical Recovery Sequence Following a Child's TBI

Center on Brain Injury Research and Training
Typical Recovery Sequence Following TBI

The following are the sequential steps for recovery taken after a mild to moderate traumatic brain injury:

Gross motor functioning such as walking often improves more rapidly than other functions (within 1 to 2 months).

These functions also improve relatively rapidly in children (within 1 to 2 months).

Communication skills, especially expressive speech may resolve within a few months, although more subtle language problems may persist indefinitely and unfortunately often are unrecognized.

Measured IQ
IQ changes, particularly in mild brain injuries, may be relatively modest and appear to recover in the two months after injury. However, the change is usually not as rapid as motor, sensory and speech functions.

Note: It is important to compare IQ scores pre-injury to those post-injury if possible. A student may score in the normal IQ range post-injury and be deemed “okay.” But, if that student’s pre-injury IQ score was above the normal range, the post-injury intellectual functioning may be well below what it was prior to injury.

Memory and Attention
Difficulties in these areas may persist for many months after mild and moderate injuries and even longer in severe injuries.

Higher Level Cognition
Some functions may continue to be impaired for years, if not permanently. These include: information processing; learning under complex or difficult situations; and ability to function effectively and efficiently in novel situations. Students with TBI tend to be negatively affected by stress more easily than before.

Posted on BrainLine June 18, 2010.

Source: Adapted from Traumatic Brain Injury: The Role of Schools in Assessment, Susanne Carter, Author, Western Regional Resource Center, May 1993.

From the Center on Brain Injury Research and Training. Reprinted with permission.

Comments (2)

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The words in the title " Typical Recovery " are very misleading because the range for any TBI varies greatly depending on the severity: mild, moderate, or severe. It also makes a difference if other injuries were sustained at the same time as the TBI. It also makes a difference if the patient has a positive attitude and has self motivation to work hard at Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy. All of these things play a factor in the recovery process.

The word TYPICAL in your title is very misleading. And something should be added that this may be an average timeline for mild or moderate TBI, however each individual may have a wide range depending on how and where the brain was injured. Speaking from experience, this timeline is completely inaccurate for someone with a severe TBI.