With TBI, Sometimes We Don't Know What We Don't Know

Families and schools need to communicate in order to make sure potential injury-related learning problems are not overlooked in a child with TBI.

See more video clips with Dr. Ann Glang.

[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.
Posted on BrainLine August 12, 2013.

Produced by Noel Gunther, Justin Rhodes, and Erica Queen, BrainLine.