Specialized Services for Students with Concussions
Consultation and Collaborative Care: While most concussions resolve quickly and easily, some children find themselves facing prolonged recoveries which include cognitive, emotional and behavioral changes. Schools and physicians are struggling to determine the best ways to advise and support these families. Certified athletic trainers receive special training in managing an athlete's return to the playing field only. During her seven years there, Dr. Ashley Harbin consulted national experts and clinical research to guide the development of Hammond Schoool's multidisciplinary Concussion Management Team and specific guidelines for a child's return to the classroom. After returning to private practice, Dr. Harbin also completed additional training to become a Certified Brain Injury Specialist and has become actively involved in the Brain Injury Association of South Carolina. Dr. Harbin works closely with the medical team in order to provide the unique expertise needed to support these children, their famillies, and the school in cases of complex concussions.
Specialized Evaluation: Both psychological and neuropsychological tests are used to identify specific brain related problems like thinking, processing speed, or memory disturbances related to an injury or illness. Although baseline data on a child's cognitive and academic strengths and weaknesses are helpful, these may not always be available. A thorough clinical evaluation and review of of medical records is always the first step in this process. Cogntive and emotional screening and further in depth assessment are used at different points in a child's recovery. Each child has strengths and weaknesses, and this evaluation process is intended to provide detailed information which can be used at home, at school, and in a more comprehensive rehabilitation plan. Brain injuries can result in changes to one's temperament, personality, behavioral control, and emotional state. Psychological evaluations are used to assess one's emotional, behavioral, and social adjustment to an injury or illness for the sake of guiding therapy and other interventions.
Medically-Oriented Psychotherapy: Each child and family react differently to a disabling injury or illness. Even in the absence of a hospital stay, disruption of daily life and isolation from peers and activities can cause additional stress. Dr. Harbin helps children and their families adjust to these difficult life situations as well as treats preexisting mood, behavior, or school-related problems. Therapy with a psychologist takes different forms depending on the needs of the patient, but always includes parent support and education.
Educational Planning and Consultation: A brain injury or illness can interfere with a child or teenager's education, by taking time away from school due to absences and by causing thinking, learning, and behavior problems. Psychologists and neuropsychologists collaborate with teachers and other school staff in adjusting a child's or teenager's schoool day and work load with a child's individual strengths and weaknesses in mind. We always ask families to provide specific points of contact at the school and releases of information so that we may work closely to monitor progress and support a child's needs both socially and academically in the school environment. Ideally, families provide open releases of information so that all of the members of a child's multidisciplinary tratment team are able to share information and work together.