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It is estimated that 50,000 people per year suffer a head injury severe enough to keep them from returning to their pre-injury level of functioning. University students are in a high-risk age group for this type of injury; two-thirds of all head injury cases occur among persons age 15-24.

Some head-injured students have mobility problems that will require accommodations. Many do not, however, so their disability may not be readily apparent. Furthermore, they may be reluctant to reveal it to you. Many of them have been through extensive rehabilitation. They are proud of the progress they have made and want to be self-sufficient. At the same time, they often are painfully aware of the fact that they do not learn as easily as they did before their injury, and this can cause great frustration.

Among the cognitive deficits persons with head injuries may experience are: difficulties with concentration, memory, problem solving, and abstract reasoning. In our experience with students at Stanislaus State, the problem they mention most often is poor memory. You may find with such students that they do well on test items that require them to recognize answers (multiple choice, matching) but do poorly on items requiring total recall (fill in the blank, etc.).

In teaching such students, frequent repetition of material and providing concrete examples of abstract concepts will be helpful. Such students should be advised against taking courses requiring much rote memorization.

Updated: July 18, 2023