U of O
The Center on Brain Injury
Research & Training

Typical Recovery Sequence After a TBI


Gross motor functions - such as walking - often improve more rapidly than other functions (within 1 to 2 months).


These functions also improve rapidly in children (within 1 to 2 months).


Communication skills - especially expressive speech - may resolve within a few months, although more subtle language problems can persist indefinitely and are unfortunately often unrecognized.

Measured IQ

IQ changes - particularly in mild brain injuries - may be relatively modest and appear to recover within 2 months of the injury. However, improvement is usually not as rapid as with motor, sensory and speech functions.

Note: It is important to compare IQ scores pre-injury to those post-injury, if possible. A student may score in the normal IQ range post-injury and be deemed "okay". However, if that student's pre-injury IQ score was above the normal range, post-injury intellectual functioning may be well below what it was prior to injury.

Memory and Attention

Difficulties in these areas may persist for many months after mild and moderate injuries and even longer in severe injuries.

Higher Level Cognition

Some functions may continue to be impaired for years, if not permanently. These include: information processing; learning under complex or difficult situations; and the ability to function effectively and efficiently in novel situations. Students withTBItend to be negatively affected by stress more easily than before.

Carter, Susanne. (1993).Traumatic Brain Injury: The Role of Schools in Assessment.Western Regional Resource Center.