Brain & Spinal Injury
Welcome to the Brain & Spinal Injury Section
Welcome to the Brain Injury Help Section for the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. Whether a brain injury results from a trauma such as auto or bicycle collision, a fall, sports injury, or medical event such as a stroke, embolism, or loss of oxygen, you will have access to the information you need to learn about brain injury and behavior analysis here at Behavior.org.
Our webpages describe the various aspects of brain injury and many of the behavioral challenges to everyday activities. Sometimes these challenges may be prevalent immediately after an injury; however, it is not uncommon for a person to exhibit problems many years after an injury. These problems may range from confusion and fatigue to severe agitation, aggression, and depression.
You will learn about some of the ABA techniques used in the treatment of brain injury, such as reinforcement, shaping, fading, prompting, fluency, errorless discrimination training and stimulus control.
Many of these techniques can help teach and strengthen daily skills, as well as reduce challenging behaviors that interfere with rehabilitation and successful progress.
Our science dates back many years with contributions from early physiologists, experimental psychologists, and others who conducted groundbreaking experiments using controlled environments to study the behavior of individual subjects. Based on this research, Applied Behavior Analysis has emerged as a comprehensive approach to addressing many of problems encountered by individuals, societies, and cultures. Positive and robust changes in understanding behavior has lead to advances in treating children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Developmental / Intellectual Disabilities, Geriatrics, and Medicine, as well as the Brain Injury treatment.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Brain Injury
Brain Injuries & Behavior Changes
Behavior can be affected by a brain injury in many ways, creating challenges for the individual receiving the injury as well as for loved ones and family. The role of the behavior analyst can often make a difference in recovery because behavioral strategies can address many of the different facets that enhance better outcomes.
- Decision Making and Planning
- Sequencing and Organization
- Attention and Perception
- Reading and Writing Skills
- Thought Processing Speed
- Problem Solving Skills
- Thought Flexibility
- Safety Awareness
- New Learning
- Muscle Movement and Coordination
- Hearing, Vision, Taste, Smell, Touch
- Sexual Functioning
- Social Skills
- Emotional Control and Mood Swings
- Appropriateness of Behavior (Self-Monitoring Remarks & Actions)
- Reduced Self-Esteem
- Depression (Agitated Type)*
- Anxiety & Frustration
- Anger Management
- Coping Skills
- Irritability or Agitation
- Excessive Laughing or Crying
Right-Side Brain Injury and Behavior Changes
- Visual-Spatial Impairment
- Visual Memory Deficits
- Left-Side Neglect
- Decreased Awareness of Deficits
- Altered Creativity and Music Perception
- Loss of “The Big Picture” Type of Thinking
- Decreased Control Over Left-Sided Body Movements
Left-Side Brain Injury and Behavior Changes
- Difficulties in Understanding Language (Receptive)
- Difficulties in Speaking or Verbal Output (Expressive)
- Catastrophic Reactions (Depression/Anxiety)
- Verbal Memory Deficits
- Impaired Logic
- Sequencing Difficulties
- Decreased Control Over Right-Sided body Movements
Diffuse (Left/Right) Brain Injury and Behavior Changes
- Reduced Thinking Speed
- Reduced Attention and Concentration
- Impaired Cognitive Skills in All Areas
Skills Acquisition, Teaching & Rehabilitation
Recovering from a brain injury requires a team of dedicated professionals skilled in brain injury rehabilitation. From acute care to vocational training and community integration, rehabilitation is pivotal for individuals to achieve the best outcome and recovery.
It is not uncommon for individuals to display a variety of challenging behavioral problems that interfere with rehabilitation, which include agitation, aggression, hostility, as well as depression, loss of motivation, and emotional dysregulation. When these behavioral problems are present, rehabilitation is frequently delayed or postponed indefinitely, which impedes full recovery.
Applied Behavior Analysis has been used in the treatment of these interfering behaviors so that effective rehabilitation can be resumed and bringing hope to the individual and his or her loved ones. Additionally, applied behavior analysis has been used to teach individuals to act upon his or her world more effectively. Among the techniques include Errorless Learning, Shaping and Fading, Fluency, and Precision Teaching.
Skill Acquisitionand Brain Injury
Following a brain injury, an individual may need to acquire lost activities of daily living, academic skills, community skills, or social skills. For decades, applied behavior analysis has provided skill acquisition and teaching techniques to enhance greater independence and quality of life. The literature generated in this area is immense and points to successes in areas never before achieved in education.
Applied behavior analysis has utilized procedures generated from the laboratory and translated into practice:
- Errorless Teaching
- Fluency and Precision Teaching
- Behavioral Momentum
- Shaping, Fading, Prompting, & Modeling
Applied Behavior Analysis and Brain Injury Bibliography
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Braunling-McMorrow, D. (1998). Rehabilitation outcomes for life, in Fralish, K. and McMorow, M., Innovations in Brain Injury Rehabilitation (update), New York, New York: Matthew Bender & Company.
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Dixon, M.R., Horner, M.J., & Guercio, J. (2003). Self-control and the preference for delayed reinforcement: An example in brain injury. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 36, 371-374.
Dixon, M.R. & Falcomata, T.S. (2004). Preference for progressive delays and concurrent physical therapy exercise in an adult with acquired brain injury. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 37, 101-105.
Dixon, M.R., Jacobs, E.A., Sanders, S., Guercio, J.M., Soldner, J., Parker-Singler, S., Robinson, A., Small, S., Dillen, J.E. (2005). Impulsivity, self-control, and delay discounting in persons with acquired brain injury. Behavioral Interventions, 20, 101-120.
Dixon, M.R. & Tibbetts, P.A. (2009). The effects of choice on self-control. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 42, 243-252.
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Fyffe, C.E., Kahng, S., Fittro, E., & Russell, D. (2004). Functional analysis and treatment of inappropriate sexual behavior. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 37, 401-404.
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Gurdin, L.S., Huber, S.A., & Cochran, C.R. (2005). A critical analysis of data-based studies examining behavioral interventions with children and adolescents with brain injuries. Behavioral Interventions, 20, 3-16.
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Community Enrichment, Recreation, & Accessibility
A brain injury is a devastating event, but it does not prevent a person from living a rich and fulfilling lifestyle, and with enough planning and support, many people live very productive and happy lives.
Applied behavior analysis can be an important part of this recovery. From learning the necessary pre-requisite skills needed for success in home and community to independent travel and full access, applied behavior analysts assist rehabilitation specialist to promote generalization of skills, increase effectiveness of signs, symbols, and activity schedules, and promote effective problem solving strategies using reinforced practice, role playing, and other simulations.
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