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Sensory Deficits

Physical Communication Cognitive Behavioural / Emotional


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Vision is our dominant sense and most of our perception, learning, cognition and activities are mediated through vision.

Vision is a complicated process and does not just involve what is ‘seen’ by the eye.

The process of vision can be broken down into;

  • visual acuity and visual field,
  • visual motor abilities and
  • visual perception.

Visual acuity refers to clarity of sight. Visual acuity can become blurred due to a variety of conditions. Visual field refers to the central and peripheral vision which together make up the ‘panorama’ of vision. Various neurological conditions can cause loss of visual field which may involve one or both sides of vision. A person may be blind to half their field of vision. Scanning techniques can be taught, or special prisms used to increase field of vision.

Visual motor abilities involve movement of the eyes. The eyes may no longer be aligned, or be unable to steadily gaze at an object, or to ‘track’ a moving object. It can also affect the ability to ‘scan’ documents or to focus. There may also be a loss of binocular vision and depth perception. Double vision or diplopia is a common result of head injury. Diplopia may be corrected using vision therapy or special lenses.

Visual perception may involve such things as loss of hand-eye co-ordination, the ability to associate what is seen with what is heard, the ability to remember information that is seen, the ability to recognise objects, and the ability to recognise where a person is in relation to objects around them. Lenses, prisms and visual rehabilitation activities are used in the remediation of these disorders.

Hearing Loss

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Hearing loss can occur as a result of acquired or traumatic brain injury. There may be damage to the structure of the ear, to the nerves connecting the ear to the brain, or to the way hearing is processed within the brain. The hearing loss may be accompanied by tinnitus which can be described as a ringing, hissing or roaring sound. Hearing problems can be distressing and result in isolation.

Treatment may include medical management, hearing aids, or auditory processing therapy. It’s important to determine how much of the hearing loss is caused by other symptoms such as memory or attention difficulties, which may also accompany a TBI.

Loss of Smell and Taste

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Loss of taste and/or smell has been reported to be as high as 25 percent after traumatic brain injury. The loss of taste is generally due to loss of smell. Loss of smell has many possible causes including injury to the nose, nasal passages, sinuses, olfactory nerve, and injury within the brain. Unfortunately, there is no good treatment cure for post-traumatic anosmia (loss of smell). Typically, if a person doesn’t regain their ability to smell six months after the injury, the loss will likely be permanent.

Precautions may need to be taken as the person suffering loss of smell may not smell smoke in a fire, or gas escaping if an oven is left switched on etc. Vibrating fire alarms can be used under mattresses in beds, and it may be worth considering switching from gas cooking to other methods of cooking.

"Healthy teens are better at identifying strategies to deal with barriers. KIDS WITH ABI'S CAN'T!"
Shari Wade; USA
"Families and professionals spend time focusing on the negative aspects of ABI. Families need to be properly supported as 'resilience' is key to delivering successful outcomes for children and young people."
Roberta De Pompeii; USA
"We are medical practitioners. The real experts are the parents. Over the last 35 years they have taught me everything I know"
Lucia Braga; Brazil
"Children and young people have poor social competence post brain injury due to reduced cognition, executive functions, and emotional control. As a result they are twice as likely to have mental health issues in the future"
James Tonks; University of London
"Taking brain injured children home causes high stress for families. Disjointed services exacerbate family stress levels."
Deborah Andrews; New Zealand
"Case management for children and young people post acquired brain injury is 'pivotal' to successful outcomes and must be local"
Deborah Andrews; New Zealand
"New parenting support intervention showed how parenting style is related to executive dysfunction in children and young people post brain injury. With support parents cope better so the child has a better recovery"
Andrea Palacio-Navarro; Spain
"Different 'experts' involved in pediatric neuro-rehabilitation come from different organisational cultures which causes conflict and has a negative effect on the outcomes for the child."
Barbara O'Connell; Ireland
"When different organisations assess different aspects of a child's neuro-rehabilitation needs, everyone looks at things from a different perspective and highlight needs and conflicting priorities"
Cathy Jonson; Rehab without Walls; United Kingdom.
"Pediatric neuro-rehabilitation cannot be delivered in isolation. The needs of the child have to be looked at both holistically and within the context of the family unit. Parents need to be empowered to be parents in post-acute pediatric neuro-rehabilitation following brain injury"
The Children's Trust; United Kingdom

OUR MISSION: To work to remove (health) inequalities for children & young people affected by acquired brain injury; and provide effective support to their families that makes a real difference.

Council for Disabled Children Lottery Funded