Because learning matters... we're helping students with brain injuries return to school

Students with brain injuries have an opportunity to learn the skills needed to successfully return to school after a brain injury. Learn more about the Return to School Program.

“During the Return to School Program we teach these young adults the strategies to resume their studies while coping with their injury,” says speech language pathologist (SLP) Penny Welch West who developed the program with her colleagues SLPs Julie Hughes and Elizabeth Skirving. Instead of a one-on-one approach, they chose a group format to reach more students at once.

participants in the Return to School program at Parkwood Hospital
(above: students Brady Cline, Sarah Brunke, Stacey Gale, and speech language pathologists Elizabeth Skirving, Julie Hughes and Penny Welch-West)

“For many, a brain injury comes at a crucial time in their lives when they’re in high school, college or university. They don’t have time to wait until there’s an opening in our Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) program, because every day they wait is another day lost in their school semester,” explains Penny.

Students like 18–year-old Brady Cline who, with six concussions from sports, is balancing coping with his brain injury with schoolwork at Laurier Brantford and working part time.  Before the accident Brady was an honour student, “School used to be easy – things stayed in my head forever,” he says. “Now I have to work really hard to remember anything.” Through the Return to School class Brady has learned new strategies to commit things to memory.

Or Sarah Brunke, 19,  who was heading out for a night with friends, when she toppled off her high heels and hit her head on concrete.  After the injury Sarah moved back home so her family could care for her until she recovered. “Attending the Return to School program helped me realize there are other people going through the same health issues I am,” says Sarah, who was attending the University of Guelph at the time of her injury. “I don’t feel so alone anymore.” Sarah hopes to soon return to school to continue her studies.

The Return to School program addresses mild brain injury issues including fatigue, headaches, inattention, forgetfulness, dizziness, and word finding challenges. Students learn skills to help them succeed with reading, writing, social communication, studying and memory skills. In addition, they learn what accommodations they will need at school such as a quiet room for writing exams and technology like a Livescribe Echo Smartpen to record lectures.

Through this innovative program students like Brady and Sarah whose lives have been interrupted by a mild brain injury can get their lives back on track more quickly so they can get the schooling they need to move into the future.

 Videos: the Return to School Program helps students resume their studies

News coverage from CTV London about the program:

Watch the video above, or click to view on YouTube.

Return to School Program participant Sarah Brunke talks about her success:

Watch the video above, or click here to view on YouTube.

Return to School Program Speech Language Pathologist Julie Hughes talks about the program:

Watch the video above, or click here to view on YouTube.

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