Penn Live reported this week on an interesting new program that seeks to better integrate child brain injury victims into their regular school schedule. This is a topic of growing importance, as many children, especially youth athletes are suffering concussions and other brain injuries caused by head trauma. As our Chicago brain injury attorneys have often reported on these pages, proper rest and recovery time is absolutely critical for these victims. But that means more than just ensuring that children do not go back onto the sports field too soon. It also means taking into account all of their activities, including the challenges of sitting back in a regular classroom.
One county initiative highlighted in the story takes this reintegration mission very seriously. The program, with participants known as the Brain STEPS team, include brain injury experts who work closely with local public school districts and private schools to help ease teen and child brain injury victims back into their school routine. The program is still new, but it is slowly helping more children in this situation. So far the model has helped eight victims in this small corner of one state, and many more are expected to take advantage of the program in the future. It is also being heralded as an ideal model for other locations. Our brain injury attorneys know many local victims would appreciate access to these programs.
The program participants discover the resource available to them after being referred by a local children’s hospital concussion treatment center. Having medical professionals refer brain injury victims to the program is an ideal relationship, ensuring those who need the help most are made aware of the support that they can receive. This is particularly helpful for parents who otherwise may not appreciate the significance of returning to a normal school environment. Even though it may seem like a simple transition process, considering the volatility of brain injuries, nothing should be left to chance.
The director of the program explained that the project was “a school reentry model program for youngsters who have had traumatic brain injury from an auto accident or a sports injury.” Those who suffered a traumatic brain injury from other sources are also welcome. However, car accidents and sports injuries are far and away the most common causes of these injuries in teens and youth.
The group of experts which guide the reentry process include a psychologist, speech-language pathologist, and a training specialist. In addition, the Brain STEPS team includes the program manager of the local children’s hospital, a cognitive therapist from a local rehabilitation clinic, a neuropsychologist, and an elder community member-such as a grandparent or retired teacher. Together the team hopes to have the resources to deal with the wide range of ways that brain injuries can affect these children, from cognitive function problems to motor skills and speech.
The group works with the family and school officials to create a reentry plan. Perhaps the child would be best served by easing back in with half days. Or, in other cases it might be appropriate for the child to take a break after 30 minutes of instruction. In addition, the team works closely with coaches and athletic directors if the victims are involved in athletics.
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