Brain injury - Memory and new learning

  • It is common for a child to have difficulties with memory and new learning following a brain injury. Memory difficulties may be different for each child.

    Examples of memory difficulties

    Each child with a brain injury will have a unique pattern of memory difficulties which will affect their schooling and everyday life in a unique way. Concentration difficulties and processing information more slowly can also influence how well information is learned and recalled. Some examples of memory difficulties include:

    • difficulty following instructions, and the need for instructions to be repeated
    • forgetting requirements such as homework and equipment for lessons
    • taking a long time to learn new work
    • forgetting information that was given a few minutes ago
    • difficulty recalling information

    Strategies to help a child with memory difficulties

    • Limit the amount of information given at any one time.
    • Encourage the child to ask for information to be repeated if they are having trouble understanding or missed hearing it.
    • Encourage and teach the regular use of a diary.
    • Prompt them to write down messages and reminders (especially adolescents).
    • Provide repetition of new material and teach information in a number of different ways.
    • Offer frequent revision and rehearsal of information and summarise important points (especially for adolescents).
    • Teach efficient note taking and summarising skills.
    • Check how much the child has learned by asking them to repeat the information before moving on to another task.
    • Link new information to things they have learned before.
    • If the difficulties relate to verbal memory, try to help learning by providing visual cues.
    • If there are visual memory problems, rely on writing down information.
    • When the child has difficulty recalling information, give prompts to assist them before providing the answer.
    • Have the necessary information available for the child to refer to, rather than have them rely solely on their memory. Where possible, use multiple choice questions to aid recall.


    Difficulties with memory and new learning after a brain injury generally improve gradually over time. However, some children who have experienced a more severe injury may find that these problems continue. Difficulties with memory, as well as other cognitive difficulties, are identified through a neuropsychological assessment. A neuropsychologist can help tailor compensatory and management strategies for each individual child based on their strengths and difficulties.

    Key points to remember

    • Difficulties with memory and new learning following a brain injury are common.
    • There may be difficulties with learning and storing new information and/or recalling previously learned information.
    • The type or pattern of memory difficulties usually differs for each child.
    • Difficulties in this area can be formally identified by a neuropsychologist.

    For more information

    Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Paediatric Rehabilitation Service based on information from the Brain Injury Service at Westmead Children's Hospital. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.

    Reviewed September 2020.

    Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit


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