The Importance of an Interdisciplinary Team for Individuals with Brain Injury

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the most common cause of acquired disability in a child’s developmental age, and the effect of a TBI is different at all ages.

An interdisciplinary approach can give a child their best chance of recovery by targeting their specific needs.

Here’s how the various disciplines work as a unit to help the child through recovery:

  • Physiotherapists work to achieve the maximum physical recovery possible through focusing on regaining movement. This may mean working on the child’s strength, balance, coordination, range of motion, and overall stability.
  • Occupational therapists aim at improving the level of autonomy of the child, while also focusing on the rehabilitation of the sensory system. This rehabilitation can range from training in acts of daily living, motor planning, visual motor integration, and adaptation to home and school places. They also support fine motor skill recovery.
  • Both occupational therapists and speech therapists may work on feeding, chewing and swallowing, depending on the need of the child.
  • Speech therapists will also focus the child’s communication skills, ranging from word articulation, augmentative communication, any acquired aphasia disorders, or reading skills.

Despite these focused areas, there is significant overlap throughout the disciplines. By working as a team, therapists can consider the goals of one discipline during another specialists session. This pattern ultimately helps to maximize the child’s recovery potential.

An interdisciplinary team ensures that all areas of a child’s needs are met providing the most holistic approach possible. Interdisciplinary teams consist of clinicians who have actively set their own goals and are also aware of how their goals overlap and integrate with other disciplines.

Following a brain injury, various aspects of a child’s development can be impacted, and using an interdisciplinary approach creates a team best suited to address the complex needs of the child and their family.


An image of Jennifer Halfin, a physiotherapist at Children Support Solutionsoccupational therapists, Keltie Morrison

By: Jennifer Halfin, PT & Keltie Morrison, OT

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Additional links & resources:
Brain Injury Association of Canada
CanChild – Brain Injury Resources
Ontario Brain Injury Association
Holland Bloorview – Brain Injury Rehab & Concussion Clinic

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