How a Traumatic Brain Injury Can Impact a Student in School

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) can easily throw an individual off of their typical daily life. Depending on the severity and symptoms, a student may need to miss school due to a TBI and then may have side effects that make school more difficult. On this page, we’ll explore how a TBI can impact a student’s academic performance and strategies to support them. 

Understanding TBIs

Injuries to the head cause TBIs. Common causes include car accidents, sports accidents, or falls. 

Symptoms of TBI can include:

  • Impairments to memory, attention, and language skills
  • Issues with coordination and balance
  • Changes to vision, hearing, smell, or taste
  • Emotional problems such as poor impulse control and aggression
  • Changes in mental health, such as depression or anxiety

If you or a loved one has experienced a head injury, it’s important to be assessed as soon as possible by a medical professional to determine if it is a case of TBI. Symptoms may sometimes go unnoticed but can affect the injured person’s life over time. Therefore, early assessment helps indicate potential issues and seek interventions right away.

Challenges Faced by Students with TBIs

A student who has experienced a TBI may experience different challenges depending on the exact area of the brain that was impacted and the severity of the injury. 

Some common challenges after a TBI are:

  • Issues with memory
  • Trouble paying attention
  • Mood swings
  • Issues with impulse control
  • Fatigue

Educational Implications

Understandably, these symptoms would make it difficult for a student to stay on track with school work, extracurriculars, and their social and family life. 

After a TBI, a student’s academic performance may suffer. It may be difficult to stay focused long enough to study effectively, or to pay attention in class. The student may forget what they learned more easily than they used to. Therefore, they may need extra help to keep up with their grades and studying for tests, and may require exceptions while they are recovering from their injury.

A student who has experienced a TBI may experience issues with their social life as well. Relationships to peers, teachers, and family can change due to the effects of a TBI. The individual could also experience trouble with their self-esteem and confidence due to the potential issues caused by their injury. 

This is why it’s so important to be diagnosed early and explore intervention options, and for schools to effectively support students with TBIs. Students may overcome their symptoms over time, but it isn’t an overnight process. The recovery process can be arduous, and the student will need understanding and assistance from those around them to help them through the journey.

Strategies for Supporting Students with TBIs

When a student is recovering from a brain injury, it’s vital that they have the support of their educators, parents, and healthcare professionals. 

What can teachers/schools do?

  • Reduce distractions in the classroom
  • Break assignments down into smaller tasks
  • Give the student extra time to work on tests or homework assignments
  • Provide a checklist or clear outline for assignments so the student feels confident completing their work

Offer an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Here’s an example of an IEP.

What can parents do?

  • Be in touch with the student’s teachers so you can be aware of any necessary adjustments to their education
  • Bring the student to cognitive rehabilitation therapy
  • Provide emotional support as they work through their recovery
  • Encourage them to keep going, letting them know that as they work on their recovery and give their brain time to heal, it will get easier.

What can healthcare professionals do?

  • Provide cognitive rehabilitation therapy that can help students recover, or refer them to a clinician who can provide cognitive therapy.
  • Keep parents informed about what they can expect from their child’s recovery, and when to come back for check ups.


Overcoming a TBI is no easy feat, and it can be especially difficult while trying to keep up with school. Parents, educators, and healthcare professionals are vital in helping to support students who are recovering from a TBI. As research continues into effective recovery, let’s do what we can to raise awareness for students recovering from TBIs and foster a more inclusive and understanding educational environment.

Aly Castle

Aly is HappyNeuron Pro’s Content Specialist. She is passionate about mental health and well-being and loves utilizing her design background to share important cognitive information clearly and understandably.

Related Content in Age Related,Children,Education,Medical Conditions,TBI

Recent Articles

HappyNeuron Pro Logo

Are you a therapist looking for Cognitive Stimulation tools for your patients?

Check out HappyNeuron Pro’s FREE Worksheets !