BrainSTEPS Team Leader
Email Kara
Office: 814-940-0223 Ext. 1348

Post COVID-19 Symptoms?

BrainSTEPS can support students at 4 weeks post COVID-19 if they have been medically diagnosed and are still experiencing long-haul symptoms that impact their learning at school. Symptoms Chart

Referrals can be made at:

For additional information or questions, contact Dr. Kara A. Madara/IU8 BrainSTEPS Team Leader at 814-940-0223 ext. 1348


NEW Course! Effective Concussion Management in Schools

We now better understand that concussions are both a medical and educational issue. Every concussion is different. Some concussed students may have short to long-term difficulty learning when they return to school, while others may need only minor accommodations. Viewers will learn strategies to help properly manage a concussed student in conjunction with the student’s medical team. Having a communication and management plan in place before a student is concussed and knowing how to properly deal with a concussed student is critical. This Spotlight will expand on the lessons presented in the Concussion 101 School Health Spotlight with a focus on how to make temporary academic and activity accommodations to help a concussed student recover. It will also help viewers develop a “Concussion Team” in their district. - Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Act 48 and CEU credits approved.

A collaborative partnership between IU8 BrainSTEPS​ Lead, Dr. Kara Madara, PT, DPT, CBIS, and Dr. John Baker, Conemaugh Concussion Clinic.

CLICK HERE to register. It's free!

Each year, approximately 4,000 of Pennsylvania's children survive severe traumatic brain injuries significant enough to require hospitalization. Many are left with life-altering difficulties in physical, cognitive, or behavioral functioning.

BrainSTEPS is working to make sure that the individuals who provide educational support to children with brain injury have an understanding of brain injury, the resulting challenges, and the supports and interventions that will help these students achieve educational success through graduation.

BrainSTEPS Consulting Teams are comprised of professionals from varying disciplines who have received extensive training on educating children with brain injuries. When a child who attends a Pennsylvania public school has experienced educational effects following a brain injury, a BrainSTEPS team from the child's county of residence will act as consultants to coordinate services and provide basic training and resources to colleagues and families.

BrainSTEPS Teams will provide:

Accurate identification and intervention by personnel already employed in the school system

Coordinated training and consultation regarding identification, school re-entry planning, Individualized Education Program (IEP) development, intervention selection
and implementation, long-term monitoring of students, and other concerns professionals face in supporting students with traumatic brain injury

For more information regarding IU8's BrainSTEPS Brain Injury School Re-Entry Team, contact Dr. Kara Madara.

Meet the BrainSTEPS Team

dr madara

Dr. Kara Madara

Dr. Kara A. Madara, PT, DPT, CBIS is the IU#8 BrainSTEPS Team Leader. Dr. Madara earned her Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Physical Therapy from Daemen College in 1990. She then went on to complete her Doctoral Degree in Physical therapy at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA. Dr. Madara also holds a certificate as a Certified Brain Injury Specialist. Dr. Madara has worked in Early Intervention, Outpatient Pediatrics and School-Based Pediatric therapy settings throughout her career. She has been employed as a physical therapist for the IU8 for the past 19 years and currently supervises the Physical and Occupational Therapy department for IU8 in addition to her role as BrainSTEPS team leader. Dr. Madara has been focused on improving awareness of the BrainSTEPS program by encouraging school district teams to form CMTs and engaging in community outreach to improve collaboration and support for all students. Dr. Madara provides regular trainings on traumatic brain injury for both medical and educational staff in an effort to increase awareness of the impact TBI has on education.  

cindy letso

Cindy Letso

Cindy is an Occupational Therapist at Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8.  She has been on the Brain Steps team since 2007 when it began.  She is also a certified Brain Injury Specialist.  Cindy worked at Altoona Hospital for six years before beginning her job at IU8 in 2001.  She works with children ages three to twenty one.  Cindy is also a member of the Autism Assessment Team and the Feeding Assessment Team at IU8.  Cindy loves to work with children and their families to help them on the educational journey’s. 

Andrea Zern

Andrea Zern

Andrea currently serves as a trainer and consultant at Appalachia IU8, focusing on assistive technology and inclusive practices initiatives. Andrea’s background includes a Bachelor's degree in speech and language pathology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master's degree in the same arena from Duquesne University.  Andrea maintains her Certificate of Clinical Competency in speech (CCC-SLP) and has provided speech and language services in a variety of educational settings where her passion has become working with augmentative and alternative communication (AAC.)  Andrea has partnered with colleagues as a member of the Assistive Technology Team, the Austism Assessment team and the BrainSTEPS team.  Within the field of education, Andrea hopes to highlight Universal Design for Learning, including the utilization of technology as universal support. 

Mega Horsh

Dr. Megan Horsh

Dr. Megan Horsh is an Educational Consultant with IU8 and a Nationally Certified School Psychologist.  She received her doctorate in School Psychology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a specialty in neuropsychology and learning disorders.  She completed her Doctoral Internship at Allegheny General Hospital in the Neuropsychology Department.  She has worked as a School Psychologist in various districts across the Commonwealth since 2001.  She joined the BrainSTEPS Team in 2018. Megan enjoys working with schools, teachers, parents, and students to create an environment where students can experience success

To refer a student to the BrainSTEPS Program, please visit their website at and make an electronic referral directly through the website.

Teacher Desk Reference - Concussion