Attention Issues & Strategies

A person with a brain injury may have poor ability to concentrate for long periods of time, causing the need for frequent breaks. They may get overwhelmed by too much stimulation because they are unable to selectively attend to just one task.

The most common challenges with attention following brain injury are:

  • Low cognitive endurance (the ability to sustain performance over time) for a task.
  • Easily overloaded by too much noise, sound, light.
  • Difficulty shifting between tasks.
  • Distracted by environment or people.
  • Poor monitoring of hydration, nutrition and amount of sleep.

Effective strategies include:

  • Limit distractions when possible.
  • Make eye contact when speaking and break information down into pieces.
  • Provide tasks in simple one-step instructions.
  • Provide the individual with sunglasses or noise-cancelling headphones to decrease distractions.
  • Schedule more complex tasks during the times of day the person has the most energy.
  • Provide visual or tangible cues when giving verbal directions.
  • Allow the person who is overstimulated to take a break.


A person who is overloaded by stimulation may act out aggressively or inappropriately because they are unable to regulate the sensory input that is coming at them.