Clinic addresses needs of kids with brain injuries

July 6, 2009

Brain injuries are a leading cause of disability and death in children.

But kids with brain injuries are getting an innovative opportunity to reintegrate into the classroom and function to their highest level through the new Barrow Resource for Acquired Injury to the Nervous System (B.R.A.I.N.S) clinic at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.   Download Full Image

The new clinic is the first of its kind to bring an educational component into a multidisciplinary treatment approach through the ASU College of Teacher Education and Leadership and neurosurgeons, neurologists, rehabilitation physicians and neuropsychologists from Barrow Neurological Institute. The Brain Injury Association of Arizona is also a partner in the project.

“Programs around the country measure their success by the ability to get adult patients back into the workforce and become productive members of society. There is no such model for children, which is where the value of this clinic lies,” says Javier Cardenas, who received his bachelor’s degree in special education at ASU and is a children’s neurologist at Barrow Neurological Institute. Adults will also receive care at the clinic. 

“The idea is to have all areas covered and to give patients a medical home,” Cardenas adds. “This is a spectacular opportunity for such a collaboration and very special to me, given my background as a former teacher. I went into neurology to care for the same population in a different way.”

Gina Warren of ASU will serve as project lead for the educational component of the program. Warren and her team will explain to parents and teachers common characteristics of students with traumatic brain injuries and how these may affect educational needs. Warren is coordinator of professional field experience at the Downtown Phoenix campus for the College of Teacher Education and Leadership.

Children with brain injuries can suffer from epilepsy, physical disability, headaches, memory impairment, sleeping problems, learning disabilities, endocrine abnormalities and personality disorders.

“Difficulties with attention and memory are common problems experienced by a child with a brain injury. These difficulties will need to be addressed in the classroom through the use of teaching strategies that are targeted at increasing student attention, engagement, and long-term retention of academic content,” Warren says.

Warren and her team will also provide pertinent information to teachers about medical findings that may have implications for student’s educational options.

“This is an exciting opportunity to bridge the gap between the medical and education perspectives of the child’s experience to better support the individualized needs of each child and family,” Warren says.

Many children with traumatic brain injuries require individualized attention to accommodate their needs in a classroom. Teachers who understand the medical diagnosis and its implications can design the right individual educational programming and determine the appropriate placement for the child.

“When teachers have a clear understanding of the medical diagnosis, and parents are informed and supported in both the medical and education sides of their child's life; it is easier to make sound, data-based decisions about how to address the classroom needs of the student,” Warren says.

Warren will recruit qualified interns from ASU who are enrolled in special education programs to conduct field work in the clinic.

“This internship experience will expose students to a multidisciplinary team approach for supporting students with disabilities and their families, which is critical for future special educators to understand and demonstrate competency,” Warren says. “This clinic will provide meaningful learning experiences for our future special education teachers.”

Berch named Alan A. Matheson Professor

July 7, 2009

Alan">">Alan Matheson and Michael">">Michael Berch have been friends and colleagues at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law for 40 years and together have witnessed numerous milestones -- the administration of seven deans, the comings and goings of numerous faculty and staff members and the graduation of more than three dozen classes of future lawyers, business and political leaders and caring community citizens - among others.

The icing on this special relationship recently was spread when Berch was named the Alan A. Matheson Professor by Dean Paul">">Paul Schiff Berman. Download Full Image

"Both Michael and Alan have long been legendary figures at the College of Law. They are absolutely devoted teachers, mentors, and community citizens, and I am very pleased to be able to link them officially through this distinguished professorship," said Berman.

Berch said he is honored to receive an academic designation named for someone as kind, principled and tenacious as Matheson.

"Alan is absolutely outstanding in his service and his commitment to the law school," said Berch, who joined the faculty in 1969, two years after Matheson. "He is a great teacher, and his students absolutely adore him. He has good, sound judgment, and he cares. And any time there has been a problem at the college, he has come to the rescue."

Matheson, a professor and Dean Emeritus, said he was delighted about the appointment. "Michael's many contributions to the law school have been remarkable," he said. "He is an outstanding teacher, he has published often, he helped upgrade the admissions process at the school, he has served as an unofficial development officer, helping to raise money from alums and members of the profession, and his personal generosity in providing scholarships for students is legend."

Despite Berch and Matheson's shared status at the law school as beloved professors whose loyalty is unquestioned, their personalities couldn't be more different, Berch pointed out. "He's reserved and very effective; I'm demonstrative and, I hope, effective."

Indeed, they are. Berch was a finalist for the 2008 Professor of the Year from the ASU Parents Association, received the Arizona State Bar President's Award for outstanding services to the Bar's teaching mission in 2007 and, that same year, was one of three recipients of the 12th annual Last Lecturer Awards at ASU. Other teaching honors he has received include the ASU Law Alumni Distinguished Professor of 2001, the Maricopa County Bar Association Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award for 1992-93, and the ASU Alumni Association Distinguished Teacher Award in 1990. He has coached many of ASU's winning Moot Court teams and has written extensively.

Matheson has the most institutional knowledge of anyone at the College of Law, having arrived in 1967 to serve on the founding faculty and as Associate Dean. He has been Dean or Interim Dean five times, and is a former president of the faculty senate. Matheson received in 1995 the ASU Alumni Association Faculty Achievement for Service, and gives as freely of his time in the community as he does at the law school: he has served on committees of the American Bar Association, the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Arizona, the Maricopa County Bar Board, the Law School Admission Council, the Board of Directors of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, and DNA-Navajo Legal Services' Board of Directors, and as President of the Tri-City Citizens Mental Health Board.

Matheson teaches in the areas of Constitutional Law and Community Property, while Berch teaches Federal Courts, Civil Procedures, Conflict of Laws, Law and the Regulatory State and Professional Responsibility. Berch also is a frequent visiting professor at the University of San Diego School of Law.Janie Magruder,"> color="#0000ff">
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