Dr. Brenda Eagan-Johnson
Pediatric Brain Injury Education Specialist
Intensive clinical daily experience paired with the latest cutting edge research when working with children, adolescents, and young adults following
all severities of acquired brain injury.
Children, adolescents & young adults- early intervention-age through college-age may experience behavioral and learning difficulties following an acquired brain injury. Nationally, because educators rarely receive training on the resulting educational effects and academic supports required after a student's brain injury,
those students often receive inappropriate
educational and behavioral plans at school.
Pediatric Brain Injury Experience
Brenda Eagan-Johnson, EdD, CBIST is a national authority regarding the educational aspects of all severities of pediatric Acquired Brain Injury (both traumatic and non-traumatic) with over two decades of experience. Dr. Eagan-Johnson is the State Program Coordinator for the nationally recognized Child and Adolescent Brain Injury School Consulting Program, BrainSTEPS, in Pennsylvania. She helped create this model in 2007. The Colorado Department of Education adopted the BrainSTEPS model in 2016. Dr. Eagan-Johnson focuses on program development, implementation, consultation, and training for the approximately 300 educational consultants on 30 brain injury educational consulting teams across the state.
Dr. Eagan-Johnson serves on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialists under the Brain Injury Association of America.
Dr. Eagan-Johnson received her Master's Degree in Education and Human Development, focusing on transition & special education for students with pediatric TBI from the George Washington University, where she now serves as an adjunct instructor in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Dr. Eagan-Johnson received her Doctorate from Johns Hopkins University specializing in Mind, Brain, & Teaching (educational neuroscience). Her research interests focus on pediatric brain injury and include professional development for school staff, students in early intervention/preschool, K-12 grades, & college-age, as well as program evaluation of school district Return to Learn Concussion Management Team models. Dr. Eagan-Johnson is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist Trainer, holds three PA teaching certifications, and serves on several national advisory boards. She is published in pediatric brain injury, regularly presents at the state, national and international levels, and has received multiple state and national awards for her work in brain injury. Dr. Eagan-Johnson served as an expert external reviewer for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and has co-authored a CDC document on return to school strategies. She is currently an expert consultant for the CDC $2.2 million 4-year study of the BrainSTEPS model. Spearheading development and creation of PA’s Return to Learn Concussion Management Team Model, she has trained over 3,000+ school-based teams.
In her spare time, she actively volunteers as a strong advocate for social justice and has been asked to present numerous times for national and federal organizations in PA and Washington, DC, including a Senate briefing panel and a Congressional briefing panel in Washington, D.C.
"Eagan-Johnson...probably has been more effective than anyone in the country at training people on school-based concussion management."
S. Moore, 1/2019, Portland Tribune reporter, Pamplin Media Group, InvestigateWest
Dr. Eagan-Johnson dedicates her work to identifying and ensuring students receive needed individualized education, transition supports, & resources to promote
optimal outcomes post-brain injury.
"What I've found is, anywhere we have resistance -- and we meet resistance, because of that public perception -- 'Oh, they're fine,' 'They look fine,' 'The doctor said they're going to be fine' -- once we do awareness training, to let them know this is real and serious, the compassion tends to change [for the better]."
Dr. Brenda Eagan-Johnson speaking about pediatric traumatic brain injuries, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 11/29/10
"Effects of brain injuries in children are not always immediately apparent and may not become evident until the child reaches important developmental stages. Over time, difficulties may emerge as demands on parts of the brain originally injured are increased," said Dr. Eagan-Johnson.
State health officials push awareness for brain injury among students
Fox 43 News, 9/12/2019
"When we place demands on a student's brain, that can cause symptoms to spike...It is a balancing act to ensure that the student is still in school and learning, but also making sure their symptoms don't get worse."
Dr. Brenda Eagan-Johnson speaking about concussions,
Wall Street Journal, 8/20/2013
Johns Hopkins University
Doctorate: Mind, Brain and Teaching
George Washington University
Post-Master's Graduate Certificate: Brain Injury: Educational & Transitional Services
George Washington University
Master of Arts in Education and Human Development: Transitional Special Education Specializing in the Educational Aspect of Traumatic Brain Injury
Bachelor of Arts: Elementary Education & Special Education
My education, training, & clinical experience has focused specifically on the neurodevelopmental impacts to education, home & family, socialization, behaviors, in-school transitions, and post-school transition resulting from the following types of
pediatric acquired brain injuries:
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) which includes (mild/concussion, moderate,
severe brain injuries) caused by:
motor vehicle accidents
(ATV, car, go-cart)
assault & gunshot wounds
abuse/abusive head trauma
sports injuries, etc...
Non-Traumatic Brain Injuries (nTBI)
carbon monoxide poisoning
lightning strikes/other types of incidents
that cause lack of oxygen to the brain
arteriovenous malformation (AVM)
effects to the brain, etc...
Experience in the field of Pediatric Brain Injury
BrainSTEPS – State Program Coordinator
Child & Adolescent Brain Injury School Re-Entry Consulting Program
A joint project of the PA Department of Health, PA Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education, & Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania
2007 – Present
The George Washington University - Adjunct Instructor
Graduate School of Education and Human Development, Department of Special Education and Disability Studies
Special Education 6223: Introduction to Brain Injury: Programs, Policies, and Resources
2015 – Present
Johns Hopkins University - Doctoral Level Teaching Assistantship
2017 – 2019
NATIONAL & STATE AWARDS & HONORS
Athena Leader Award Nominee, Mercer & Lawrence County
Wittenberg University Women in Leadership Luncheon Honoree
Council on Brain Injury (CoBI) Organization Award for BrainSTEPS
Awarded by the Council on Brain Injury to the BrainSTEPS Program in PA for leadership and advocacy in the field of brain injury
Brain Injury Award of Excellence for Directing & Developing the BrainSTEPS Program
Awarded by the Acquired Brain Injury Network in Pennsylvania
Service to the Brain Injury Community Award
Awarded by the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania for the creation of the BrainSTEPS Concussion Management Team Project
6th Annual Friend of Education Award
Awarded by the Midwestern Intermediate Unit #4 that serves Lawrence, Mercer, and Butler PA school districts
40 Under 40 Award
Awarded by the Lawrence County, PA Chamber of Commerce & the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce
Wittenberg University Alumni Citation Award
Awarded to one who honors Wittenberg by exceptional accomplishments in which service to humanity is placed ahead of personal gain or recognition.
Pioneer in Brain Injury Award
Awarded by the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania, Inc. for outstanding effort and achievement in charting new territory in the brain injury field for the creation and development of the BrainSTEPS Brain Injury School Re-Entry Program
National Award of Excellence for Programs & Services
Awarded to Pennsylvania’s BrainSTEPS Brain Injury School Re-Entry Program
from the Brain Injury Association of America
Peer Reviewed Articles
(External Expert Reviewer)
Centers for Disease Control. (2018). Report to Congress: The management of traumatic brain injury in children: Opportunities for Action. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved from
Haarbauer-Krupa, J., Sarmiento, K., Thigpen, S., Glang, A., Eagan-Johnson, B., McAvoy, K., Chinnis, M., Kurowksi, B., Suskauer, S., Crowley, M., Denslow, P. Returning to school after traumatic brain injury: Description of programs addressing the issues. Manuscript in process.
(Invited Guest Editor)
American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) Special Interest Group Neurogenic Communication Disorders. SIG 2, Perspectives (Scheduled publication 2020).
(Co-Lead & Co-Author)
McAvoy, K., & Eagan-Johnson, B
Workgroup co-authors: Dymacek, R., Hooper, S., McCart, M., & Tyler, J. (2020) First national concussion return to learn consensus. Journal of School Health. Manuscript approved for publication.
Salley, J., Krusen, S., Lockovich, M., Wilson, B., Eagan-Johnson, B., & Tyler, J. (2019). Maximizing expertise and collaboration to support students with brain injury: A case study in speech-language pathology. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups. 1-16
Salley, J., Eagan-Johnson, B., Vaccaro, M., Nagele, D. and Ciccia, A. (2019). BrainSTEPS vocational outcomes of students. Manuscript in process.
Salley, J., Eagan-Johnson, B., Vaccaro, M., Nagele, D. and Ciccia, A. (2019). Long term need & outcomes for students with acquired brain injury. Manuscript submitted for publication.
McAvoy, K., Eagan-Johnson, B., & Halstead, M. (2018). Return to learn: Transitioning to school and through ascending levels of academic support for students following a concussion. Journal of NeuroRehabilitation, (Preprint), 1–6. doi:10.3233/NRE-172381
Eagan-Johnson, B. & Grandinette, S. (2018). Addressing educational challenges in pediatric onset brain
injury. Journal of life care planning, 16(1), 53-61.
Myers, R.., Eagan-Brown, B., Conway, A., Nagele, D., Vaccaro, M., Kendi, S., & Zonfrillo, M. Examining a statewide educational consulting program for pediatric brain injury. Clinical Pediatrics, ePub ahead of print: September 21, 2017, doi:10.1177/0009922817732146.
Halstead, M., Eagan Brown, B., & McAvoy, K. (2016). Cognitive rest following concussions: Rethinking cognitive rest. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 0, 1.
Halstead, M., McAvoy, K., & Eagan Brown, B. (2016) Expanding concussion laws
not necessary for return to learning after concussion. Pediatrics, 138(6), 1-2. doi:10.1542/peds.2016-3194
Gioia, G. A., Glang, A. E., Hooper, S. R., & Eagan Brown, B. (2016). Building statewide infrastructure for the academic support of students with mild traumatic brain injury. The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 31(6), 397–406. doi:10.1097/HTR.0000000000000205
Zirkel, P., & Eagan Brown, B. (2015). K-12 students with concussions: A legal perspective. The Journal of School Nursing, 31(2), 99-109. doi: 10.1177/1059840514521465
Dettmer, J., Ettel, D., Glang, A., & McAvoy, K. (2014). Building statewide infrastructure for effective educational services for students with TBI: Promising practices and recommendations. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. doi:10.1097/HTR.0b013e3182a1cd
Todis, B., Tyler, J., & Eagan Brown, B. TBI training and technical assistance teams:
A statewide model to improve school services (2010). Brain Injury, 24(3)115-463: 115-463.
Glang, A., Todis, B., Sublette, P., Eagan Brown, B., & Vaccaro, M. (2010). Professional development in TBI for educators: the importance of context. The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 25(6), 426–432. doi:10.1097/HTR.0b013e3181fb8f45
National Publications- Non Peer Reviewed
Eagan Brown, B., Grandinette, S., Johnson, C., & Shea, M. (2017). The value of educators and brain injury educational specialists in a pediatric legal case. Brain Injury Professional, 14(3), 20-23.
Eagan Brown, B., Orzo, S., McAvoy, K. (2017). School nurses: Managing student concussions and privacy concerns. Brain Injury Professional, 14(3), 28-30.
Pennsylvania Department of Education. (2017). The BrainSTEPS program - returning to school after concussion: Recommended protocol. Retrieved from - co-author
Pennsylvania Department of Education. (2016). Teacher’s desk reference on concussion.
Retrieved from - co-author
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - co-author
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Helping students recover from a
concussion: Classroom tips for teachers. Retrieved from
Eagan Brown, B. (2010). Pennsylvania’s BrainSTEPS: Child & Adolescent Brain Injury School Re-Entry Program. Brain Injury Professional, 7(2).