Spotlight: BU ICCR Program Creates Pathway For Students to Return to College After Brain Injuries

BU ICCR Program Creates Pathway For Students to Return to College After Brain Injuries

Boston University’s Intensive Cognitive Communication Rehabilitation (ICCR) program is helping young adults with acquired brain injury (ABI) return to college or higher education by improving their communication skills in academic environments. Due to the nature of ABI and the environment necessary for recovery, those affected typically struggle to return to traditional academic settings. The program combines lecture-based and seminar-based courses, technology-focused therapy, and individual cognitive rehabilitation sessions. ICCR’s group program focuses on metacognition and integration of executive function and memory strategies, while individual therapy targets short-term goals and personally relevant outcomes.

The program was created in 2016 and run by Dr. Swathi Kiran, Natalie Gilmore, Christianna Gilbert, and Meredith Maceachern in order to address the current gap in the continuum of care for young adults with ABI who wish to go to college or return to higher education. Due to the nature of the injury and the rehabilitation time needed, people with ABI are at risk of decreased socialization, and the program aims to address this by creating opportunities for students to make connections and continue relationships after the program. The mission of the program is to provide contextualized and intensive, integrated rehabilitation to young adults with ABI, who would be successful and have the ability to pursue their goals and contribute meaningfully to society.

The ICCR team adapted the program to be virtual in 2020 following the implementation of COVID policies, making it available to students remotely by logging into their computers to participate virtually. The program was in-person before the pandemic and after 2020 provided more opportunities for people outside of Boston to receive this rehabilitation. Since it was founded, the ICCR has helped many students return to school following traumatic brain injuries. Students enjoy being on campus, and the program helps them feel normal again, bringing them back into a routine. Even when virtual, students still manage to connect with each other over social media and stay in touch after the program ends.

In addition to helping students with ABI, the program also helps graduate students in the speech, language, and hearing sciences department attain clinical skills within the field of brain recovery. In the words of one graduate student who participated in the program, “My favorite part of ICCR was the camaraderie forged between the students. For many of them, this was the first time they had peers with similar experiences, who were in the same stage of life and working towards the same goals. To see them celebrating the successes of their fellow students and flourishing with the supportive environment of this functional, intensive, and contextualized treatment program is something I am always grateful I got to be a part of.”

Overall, the ICCR program is making a significant impact on the lives of young adults with ABI, providing them with the necessary skills to return to higher education and pursue their goals. The ICCR has received attention for their work helping students recover and return to school, more articles about their efforts can be read online. The program’s integration of lecture-based and seminar-based courses, technology-focused therapy, and individual cognitive rehabilitation sessions helps students strengthen their cognitive-linguistic skills in a structured and encouraging environment before they can succeed in a typical classroom.

The ICCR program is enrolling students for the summer and the fall. To learn more about the ICCR, visit their webpage for a full description of the program and their accomplishments.

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