Date of Award


Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Dr. Kinsuk Maitra

Second Advisor

Dr. Carolyn Podolski

Third Advisor

Dr. Veronica Rowe



The nature of brain injury often presents itself in various behavioral and emotional ways that affect communication input and output. Brain injury survivors can sometimes have behaviors and emotions that present in forms of aggression, emotional dysregulation, and confusion. Many communities within society lack the awareness of recognizing and understanding communication problems experienced by individuals with brain injuries, thus increasing the challenges with communication that brain injury survivors face. This is particularly important with law enforcement. Law enforcement providers hold a valuable responsibility to ensure safety and advocacy for themselves and brain injury survivors when an encounter arises. It is essential for law enforcement agencies to receive training on successfully handling individuals with brain injuries to ensure more effective and empathetic communication in such encounters.


The purpose of this capstone project is to develop an educational course for law enforcement providers to address the need for understanding common communication deficits associated with brain injuries. Additionally, this project aims to develop a social skills program for brain injury survivors to alleviate communication barriers between the two parties during encounters.


A literature review was conducted to obtain a broad spectrum of research to understand the importance of social skills programs and interactive educational courses for the purpose of decreasing communication barriers between brain injury survivors and law enforcement personnel.


Two programs were developed for the purpose of placing an emphasis on the importance of brain injury education within the criminal justice system. The first program was designed to be an educational course for law enforcement personnel, while the second program was designed for brain injury survivors to provide a support system for increasing confidence in social skills.


The importance of providing an occupational therapy perspective to law enforcement personnel regarding advocacy for the brain injury population in order to establish reduction of communication barriers between the two parties during encounters was addressed through the development of the two programs. A sustainability plan was established for future implementation.

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