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Acquired Brain Injuries


Acquired Brain Injuries (ABI) can result from external trauma, such as a closed head or an object penetration injury, or internal trauma, such as a cerebral vascular accident or tumor. Additionally, individuals may acquire brain injuries as a result of neurological illnesses, such as epilepsy or multiple sclerosis. ABI can cause physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and vocational changes that can affect an individual for a short period of time or permanently. Understanding functional changes after an injury and resulting implications for education are more important than knowing the cause or type of injury.

Students with acquired brain injuries may experience a variety of symptoms from severe to minor. Symptoms can include headaches, convulsions or seizures, slurred speech, loss of coordination, poor memory, and difficulty with word finding, visual tracking issues and physical fatigue.

Possible Characteristics

(Retrieved from Accommodation Solutions Online, January 20, 2014)

  • Difficulty concentrating and easily distracted
  • Difficulty knowing where to begin with a task
  • Difficulty categorizing, generalizing, and/or synthesizing information
  • Difficulty remembering all the steps in an activity or assignment
  • Difficulty with memory (location of class objects, verbal instructions, information from lecture)
  • Poor impulse control
  • Difficulty with spatial relations (maps, geometry, 3D visualizations)
  • Easily fatigued or frustrated
  • Balance or motor impairments
  • Vision impairments


Structure: Provide a syllabus with clearly delineated expectations and due dates. Study guides, review sheets and frequent opportunities for feedback are helpful in providing structure and organization.

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