Awareness of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is on the rise, especially in schools during the fall sports season. Parents should be on the lookout for warning signs of concussions and other TBI in their student athletes, as well as monitoring their overall school performance.
Some of the symptoms of TBI aren’t as obvious as those you might see in movies. Victims of brain injury might have difficulty thinking, or with listening to speech and language — all of which can cause problems with memorizing materials or reading printed notes. TBI can also cause difficulty in focusing on important tasks such as homework, or with paying attention during long classes. Damage to key parts of the brain can make it virtually impossible to pay attention long enough to acquire the details needed to pass. All of this can easily result in a number of problems, ranging from social awkwardness to poor academic performance. Even once-favored activities may be neglected out of frustration.
What isn’t clear to most parents is that there is already some degree of help present from which they can take advantage.
Every U.S. school district employs a speech-language pathologist (SLP). SLPs can work with victims of TBI and the people in their lives to create treatment plans for these victims. An SLP can administer specialized tests based on their training in cognitive impairments and communication difficulties. With these assessments, they can help ascertain the causes of unusual or self-limiting behavior common in victims of TBI. Another approach is that the SLP will work with teachers to help ease the transition for TBI victims back into the school environment. This can involve giving them additional time to prepare for tests, reduced or modified class loads, and other adjustments that may be needed.
A traumatic brain injury is a difficult thing to cope with. School sports are a potential source of these unfortunate injuries, so parents are urged to be wary of such signs in their children, and to be aware of the resources available to help their children cope.