Acquired Brain Injury

This section of the Inclusive Virginia website provides information, instructional strategies, resources, and accommodations for adult education practitioners on serving adult learners with acquired brain injury.

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is any injury that has occurred to the brain that is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. There are two types of ABI: Traumatic and Non-Traumatic Brain Injury (Brain Injury Association of America).

Traumatic Versus Non-Traumatic Brain Injury

  • According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act website, Traumatic brain injury means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Traumatic brain injury applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. Traumatic brain injury does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.
  • Non-Traumatic Brain Injury refers to acquired brain injuries that are caused by internal factors such as lack of oxygen, exposure to toxins, or pressure from a tumor. They include medical emergencies such as a stroke, near-drowning, aneurysms, infectious diseases, tumors, and lack of oxygen (Brain Injury Association of America).
Doctors examining a brain

Additional Information

Instructional Strategies

  • Provide recordings of class sessions or a notetaker 
  • Provide verbal and written course information 
  • Be flexible as it pertains to attendance and time spent in class 
  • Provide frequent breaks 
  • Ensure that the classroom and out-of-class activities are accessible to those with mobility disability
  • Provide visual aids 
  • Use simplified and repetitive instructions and explanations
  • Use a familiar routine in the classroom
  • Position learners in the front of the classroom
  • Use checklists to organize class information 

These resources provide a more detailed description of the instructional strategies for working with learners with acquired brain injury. 


  • Speech Generating Devices
  • Recording Devices
  • Writing Assistance 
  • Physical Assistance
  • Cognitive Assistance

These resources provide more detailed information related to the accommodations tools commonly used to support learners with ABI.

Acquired Brain Injury Resources