Checking young athlete for concussion and brain injury

Brain Injury Resource Team

The Brain Injury Team serves as a contact and resource for helping districts serving a student who has suffered a brain injury. The Brain Injury Team facilitates communication and provides educational consultation for these students.

Brain Injury Resource Team (BIRT) Mission:

The Brain Injury Resource Team (BIRT) provides services to students who have suffered a brain injury due to trauma, childhood cancer & subsequent treatment, infections, concussion, stroke, seizure, or non-accidental brain trauma. Services may begin with the transition back to school following an injury or illness. Other services may include onsite observation and provision of strategies to assist learning, memory, and behavior.

Meet Our Brain Injury Resource Team




Julie Stessman

Julie Stessman

Physical Therapist, Brain Injury Resource Team Supervisor

Council Bluffs Office | jstessman@ghaea.org

JenniferFoglesongAJen Foglesong

Special Education Consultant

Creston Office | jfoglesong@ghaea.org

AmyHoffmanBAmy Hoffman

Special Education Consultant

Osceola Office | ahoffman@ghaea.org

Kelsey OwensKelsey Owens

Occupational Therapist

Glenwood Office | kowens@ghaea.org

ToddReznicekBTodd Reznicek

School Psychologist

Council Bluffs Office | treznicek@ghaea.org

DeniseVolkerBDenise Volker

School Psychologist

Council Bluffs Office | dvolker@ghaea.org

Iowa Concussion Management Protocol – REAP




REAP stands for Reduce/Remove, Educate, Adjust/Accommodate, Pace. It is a program developed by Karen McAvoy, PsyD as the result of a Colorado high school student athlete’s death from Second Impact Syndrome (a second concussion before complete recovery from the first). It is a nationally recognized, systematic approach to concussion management for the time of injury through return to learn and play. Family team, medical team, school academic team, and school physical team roles are clearly defined. Work is currently underway for Iowa to adopt this program for concussion management.

Iowa Concussion Management Protocol – REAP

Making A Referral




When Should You Make a Referral to the Brain Injury Resource Team (BIRT)?

A student should be referred to the BIRT when any of the following events occur:

  • Trauma that causes either an open or closed head injury
  • Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA) or stroke
  • Brain tumor or other childhood cancer
  • Infection such as encephalitis or meningitis
  • Non-accidental brain trauma 
  • A concussion that does not resolve in the expected amount of time

How to Make a Referral:

  • Work with the Special Education Rep (SER) to complete the referral form below
  • Medical documentation of the brain injury is required and the school team is responsible for obtaining this and parent permission as part of the referral process
  • If a student has been hospitalized due to a brain injury, the school team should contact the BIRT as soon as possible so that we can assist with the return to school planning. For students who have been recently injured, whether hospitalized or not, it is important to find out about any activity restrictions, precautions such as seizures, limited weight-bearing due to orthopedic injuries, etc.
  • The completed referral form should be sent to Julie Stessman at the Halverson Center for Education.

Unusual Circumstances:

  • Sometimes school teams find out about a brain injury that occurred in the child’s past. A referral can be made to the BIRT if the school team feels that this injury is interfering with the student’s education.
  • Occasionally students who have conditions such as hydrocephalus and seizure disorders are referred to the BIRT. These can be appropriate referrals if the school team is needing assistance to meet the educational needs of the student.

In all cases, medical documentation of injury, illness, or condition is required, as well as parent permission for the BIRT to be involved with a student.

REFERRAL FORM

Important contacts

Staff Directory
Image thumbnail for Julie Stessman

Julie Stessman

Supervisor of Physical Therapy Services

712-366-0503 ext. 6222 Email Julie Stessman