The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Community Integration of Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury at TIRR

Traumatic Brain Injury for VR Counselors

Margaret A. Struchen, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, Brain Injury Research Center
TIRR Memorial Hermann
Assistant Professor, Dept. of PM&R
Baylor College of Medicine

Laura M. Ritter, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Brain Injury Research Center
TIRR Memorial Hermann

Introduction

This educational resource is designed to assist the vocational rehabilitation counselor in gaining familiarity with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and can be used as a reference to assist the counselor in working with clients with TBI. The material is designed to provide a good overview of TBI and of issues you, the VR counselor, may encounter in working with clients with TBI, as well as to provide practical information that may assist you in your day-to-day assessment and intervention with clients.

Three modules are available for self-study and each module contains various training segments. The organization of this material is designed to assist the VR counselor in accessing reference information quickly and easily when working with actual clients. The contents of each training module are listed, so that you may click to enter the section of information with which you have interest. The content covered by this educational website was generated based on interests identified by a focus group of VR counselors facilitated by the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, State of Texas.

Training Modules

Module 1: General Knowledge about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

In this module, general information about traumatic brain injury will be presented, including: defining the disorder, describing the pathology and pathophysiology of TBI, clarifying issues related to severity of injury, and providing information about epidemiology. In addition, commonly used medical terms and outcomes scales will be presented to assist the vocational rehabilitation counselor in increasing his or her comfort level and ability to communicate with rehabilitation treatment team members. Finally, the module will present information about the typical course of recovery, distinguishing how that course may differ depending on injury severity and other variables.

Module 2: Knowledge about Common Sequelae of Traumatic Brain Injury and Strategies to Address Physical, Cognitive, Emotional, and Behavioral Changes

The following sections will list potential areas of difficulty that persons may experience after a TBI. While this list is not exhaustive, it does detail the more common areas of difficulty that individuals may face. For each of the sequelae listed, there is an indication of whether the particular symptom is commonly seen following mild, moderate, and severe TBI, or is seen primarily in those with moderate to severe TBI. While we have listed the problems that are typically experienced with varying degrees of injury severity, it is certainly possible that someone with a milder injury may experience symptoms listed as more common for those with moderate to severe injury.

It is important to note that every brain injury is different. The consequences that people typically experience may differ depending on the severity of the injury, the location of the injury (what part of the brain was injured), the mechanism of the injury (high velocity vs. low velocity injury), and other factors.

Module 3: Knowledge of Service Providers/ Resources

In this module, general knowledge about the professions of members of the interdisciplinary brain injury rehabilitation treatment team is presented along with some tips to assist the counselor in understanding and maximizing the utility of clinical evaluations that such professionals may provide. In addition, this module presents information about the types of clinical settings in which clients may receive brain injury rehabilitation services, as well as types of resources available in the local community and nationally. Finally, a description of assistive devices and technology that may be used to facilitate functioning for clients with TBI is presented.

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Acknowledgements

Development of this online training system was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education (Grant #: H133B031117 - Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Community Integration of Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury) to TIRR Memorial Hermann. Input for the content of this training system was obtained in collaboration with Les Young, of the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, State of Texas.