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Collaborative effort focuses on pediatric traumatic brain injury

By Craig Boerner
February 2013

Vanderbilt’s Bill Wilkerson Center and the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences are offering new interdisciplinary outpatient programs for children ages 3 to 21 who have experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

After a brain injury, a child may have deficits in attention, memory,
language and information processing and impaired judgment and reasoning, which can influence his or her ability to interact in social and school environments. In addition, the child may have significant physical challenges, including balance problems.

Challenges that arise for children who have experienced a TBI may be immediate or emerge as the child continues to develop, so the need for rehabilitative services may change as the social and academic demands of the child’s environment change.

The program’s interdisciplinary team will support the child’s ‘world,’ which is at home and, in many cases, returning to a school environment. Schools are the largest provider of services for a student, and this expanded program will directly support the educator as well as the family, said Project BRAIN Director Paula Denslow.

“TBI is unique to each person, and signs can be visible or hidden. Therefore, all services must be customized to meet that person’s need,” said Denslow. “The new pediatric TBI program will be able to support not only the child who is injured, but do so alongside his/her family. For a family to feel they are valued as a part of the process through a sometimes lengthy recovery can make all the difference in the world.”

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