Skip to this page's content

Traumatic Brain Injuries

The leading causes of traumatic brain injury (TBI) are motor vehicle crashes, violent assault, and falls. With TBI, the brain may be injured in a specific location, or in many different parts of the brain. This results in an indefinite nature of outcomes. TBI can cause physical, cognitive, social, and vocational changes to an individual permanently. Common results seen in individuals with TBI are limited concentration, memory loss, difficulty with speech, fatigue, poor organizational skills, seizures, and loss of balance and coordination. The instructional strategies that are appropriate for TBI are much like those of other areas of disability. The use of these strategies will depend upon the manifestation of the disability in assessment testing and behavior.


  • It is your legal responsibility to provide the student anonymity from the other students (e.g., avoid pointing out the student or explicitly mentioning their accommodation need to the class).
  • Recovering from a brain injury is inconsistent; a student might progress forward and improve, and then regress again. It should also be noted that a "plateau" in recovery is not evidence that functional improvement is ending.
  • Short-term memory skills can be a significant challenge, although long-term memory of information that was learned before the trauma is intact.
  • A traditional test of intelligence is not an accurate assessment of cognitive recover after a brain injury. There is little relationship between the mental processes required for everyday functioning and with intelligence.
  • Instructional Strategies-TBI
  • Include a statement in your course syllabus regarding accommodation issues for students with disabilities. See the Suggested Disability Statement for course syllabi.
  • Break information into small steps while instructing on new tasks.
  • Clearly define course requirements such as assignments and their deadlines. Be sure to provide advance notice of any schedule changes.
  • Keep instructions brief and uncomplicated as much as possible. When repeating instructions, repeat exactly without paraphrasing.
  • Teaming the student with a strong reader would be helpful, when appropriate.

Common Accommodations

The following list includes examples of accommodations that are commonly used by students with TBI. Not all students with TBI are eligible to receive all of following listed accommodations, nor are they limited to those listed when receiving accommodations. Eligibility for receiving any kind of accommodation depends upon factors specific to the nature of the student's disability and the nature of the course in which the accommodations are to be used. The accommodations included on the Student Accommodation Letter are approved by Disability Services and are considered to be both appropriate and required for that particular student.

  • Extended Time on Exams and Quizzes
  • Reduced Distraction Environment (exams)
  • Alternative print formats
  • Tape Record Lectures
  • Note taking Assistance
  • Books on tape


Main Campus Building Room E108

300 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115


For more information regarding Disability Services, please contact:

Timothy Rogers
Director of Disability Services

Erin Glover
Coordinator, Disability Services

For appointments, call 617-521-2474.