Purpose of this policy
To ensure schools support students with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).
See: Health Care Needs.
Schools must implement strategies to assist students with ABI and ensure that they have a Student Health Support Plan.
Acquired brain injuries are injuries to the brain that:
- occur after birth resulting in deterioration of a person’s cognitive, physical, emotional or independent functioning
- can be caused by trauma such as:
- motor vehicle accidents
- accidents and falls
- assaults or physical abuse
- can have non-traumatic causes such as:
- brain infections and inflammatory diseases
- substance abuse
- hypoxia or lack of oxygen to the brain.
It may take time to identify the full effects of ABI and how severely this will impact a person’s life.
The severity of ABI depends on the:
- length of Post Traumatic Amnesia (PTA) experienced. This is the time after injury when the patient is confused, disoriented and has poor memory
- level and length of coma.
The recovery rate is different for each person and usually continues for many years.
Impact at school
Each instance is unique. The following is not an exhaustive list of impacts.
||Students may experience|
Learning and wellbeing
changes or difficulties with:
- attention, concentration and cognitive fatigue
- short and long-term memory
- speed of information processing
- problem solving, comprehension, dealing with complex information
- judgment, monitoring and insight
- decision-making and flexible thinking
- reasoning and abstract thinking
- organisation, planning and time management
- acquisition of new learning
- academic learning.
- sensory difficulties such as with vision and hearing
- headaches and dizziness
- fatigue and sleep disturbance
- heart regulation problems such as a racing heartbeat for no reason
- muscle spasticity, seizures or paralysis
- mobility changes
- difficulty with balance, hand-eye coordination, fine motor and gross motor skills.
- aphasia which is difficulty in:
- using words to express ideas
- understanding the speech of other people
- articulation and phonological disorders
- verbal dyspraxia which is difficulty in:
- co-ordinating the mouth to speak
- sequencing language
- difficulty finding words.
Note: Some students may need support through alternative and augmentative communication to supplement their communication skills.
difficulties with behaviour and personality changes including:
- behaving inappropriately
- making and keeping friends
- poor or declining self care skills.
Schools should ensure that medical advice is received from the student’s health practitioner ideally by completing the Department’s General Medical Advice Form – ABI.
This table describes how schools support students with ABI:
Activities including camps
With good planning students should be encouraged to participate in sporting and physical activities including camps.
The school should receive any extra medial information by the parents completing the Department’s Confidential Medical Information for School Council Approved School Excursions form.
Communicating with parents
Regularly communicate with the student’s parents about the student’s successes, development, changes and any health and education concerns.
- ABI, Chronic Illness Alliance
- ABI Resources, RCH Paediatric Rehabilitation Service
- Brain Australia, the Brain Foundation
- Brain Injury Association of QLD
- Brain Link
- Dickman, G, Macphail, M and Popp, N (2001) Acquired Brain Injury Managing Cognitive Impairments: An introduction for teachers, Ballarat Health Services-ABI Clinic.
- Educating Educators about ABI, Brock University, Ontario