Therapists Try To Find Ways To Help Married Couples Cope With TBI

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Posted on 12th January 2012 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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I’m been working on a career-capping passion project: Conducting video interviews of those who have suffered traumatic brain injury, as well as their families.

One of the sad refrains I hear again and again, and have heard throughout my many years working as a lawyer,  is that they — TBI victims and their loved ones — want things to be the way they were before the car accident or fall or surgery or bomb blast or whatever that caused their injury.

In some cases, that happens. In most, it does not. 

A few days ago it was the first anniversary of the horrendous supermarket massacre in Tucson,  where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot through the head. While Giffords has made amazing progress, it’s doubtful she will ever be the same person she once was. Yet her husband, ex-astronaut Mark Kelly, remains at her side.   

 What is their marriage like now?

The New York Times Tuesday did a fascinating story on the impact, and strain, that life-changing TBI puts on what was once marital bliss. The headline was “When Injuries To The Brain Tear At Hearts: Marriage Counseling Is Evolving To Help Couples Survive Personality Changes And Physical Challenges.” 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/health/when-injuries-to-the-brain-tear-at-hearts.html?scp=2&sq=brain%20injury&st=cse

The Times story said, “Contrary to conventional wisdom, many relationships do survive  after a spouse suffers a brain injury.”  In fact, the paper claimed that research indicates that the divorce rate was 17 percent for couples where one spouse had TBI, a statistic that’s below the national average.

But researcher and psychologist Jeffrey Kreutzer of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond put a  damper on that good news.  He told The Times that the quality of the relationships two people once had can be “seriously diminished.” Wives and husbands can feel like they are living with a stranger because of the profound impact of brain injury. 

Kreutzer is part of a group of therapists at Virginia Commonwealth who are trying to tailor marriage counseling to couples impacted by TBI.

The story offers two cases studies: One of a couple where the wife is struggling to cope with her husband’s personality changes and depression, and a second couple that seems to be adapting fairly well to the husband’s TBI.     

It circles back to what I said at the beginning of this blog, that most people with TBI will never be the same as they were before their injuries, and that the emotional tenor of their relationships will likely not stay the same.

Kreutzer’s role “means teaching uninjured spouses to forge a relationship with a profoundly changed person — and helping injured spouses to accept that they are changed people.”

The idea is to keep people looking to the future, not the past.

I wish Kreutzner and his colleagues success in their work, helping troubled couples impacted by TBI.


Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
g@gordonjohnson.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

BMX Biker TJ Lavin Remains In Medically Induced Coma After Accident

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Posted on 18th October 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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 MTV “Real World/Road Rules Challenge” host TJ Lavin remained in a medically induced coma in a Las Vegas hospital Monday, according to The Los Angeles Times.  

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/outposts/2010/10/bmx-rider-tj-lavin-remains-in-a-medically-induced-coma-.html

Lavin is recovering from head injuries he received Thursday in an accident while he was trying to qualify for the BMX Dew Tour Championships. The 33-year-old was wearing a helmet when he fell and was knocked unconscious. He sustained brain injury, a right-eye orbital fracture and a fractured right wrist.

Lavin, at University Medical Center, on Saturday was able to move his hands. But his mother reported that he is on sedation “to rest and minimize brain swelling.”   

 


Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
g@gordonjohnson.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Post Coma, Two Brain Injury Victims Succeed With Their Recoveries

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Posted on 5th October 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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I’ve dedicated my life to being an advocate for brain injury victims, and it’s been a rewarding calling. And it also has its challenges.

While medicine has made strides in the treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury patients, brain injury is not like breaking a bone. Making a full recovery, to return to your prior level of function, is not easy and is not often typical. The refrain I and my associates hear from TBI victims is often the same: “I want my life back.”

Unfortunately, no one can give them their lives back. But in some cases, they can grab back their lives themselves. 

It’s always heartening when I get a case where a TBI victim make a remarkable recovery, and when I hear about other upbeat stories, I like to share them. And here are two.

The first case is that of Bryan Steinhauer, who sustained severe brain injuries when he was beat up near Binghamton University in 2008. The New York Daily News did a profile of Steinhauer Sunday, which was headlined “How He Beat The Serb Monster: Survives Coma & Heads For Dream Job.”

   http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/10/03/2010-10-03_its_the_biggest_thing_for_me__to_reclaim_my_life.html

Steinhauer two years ago was assaulted by three men, including Miladin Kovacevic, for dancing with one of their girlfriends. “Doctors didn’t know if he would be able to speak again, let alone if he would live,” according to the News.

Steinhauer was in a coma for three months, and has “undergone thousands of hours of speech and physical therapy,”  the News reported. It paid off, because Steinhauer is about to start work at KPMG, the accounting firm. Kovacevic, in turn, is about to start a prison sentence for assault.

Steinhauer’s mentor at the Greater New York Hospital Association, Lee Perlman, had this to say about the 24-year-old TBI survivor’s recovery.

“It’s mind-boggling,” Perlman told the News. “It is arguably one if the most inspiring, resilient shows of force that I could ever imagine.”

Steinhauer, who walks with a limp and talks slowly since his assault, goes to Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan once a month to speak with brain trauma patients and offer them encouragement. 

The second inspiring case is that of Jenna Philips, a Carmel, Calif., teen who fell 14 feet through a barn ceiling and landed on her head, knocked unconscious. She came out of her coma a day later, according to AOL, and had two brain contusions and a rightside skull fracture.

http://www.lemondrop.com/2010/09/29/how-i-recovered-from-brain-damage/?icid=main%7Cmain%7Cdl3%7Csec1_lnk3%7C174444

Against the advice of her doctors, Jenna returned to high school three weeks after her fall. In addition to her regular lessons, she was also undergoing cognitive therapy for her brain injury.

In “How I Recovered From Brain Damage,” Jenna is very articulate, and does a good job describing the successes, and failures, of her recovery. It was not easy.

But Jenna did go on to college, majoring in nutrition, and now has her own business, Mission Possible, an outdoor fitness program.

“I learned how to listen to my body, and understand what it needs,” Jenna told AOL. “I also learned how to persevere, and that with perseverance, anything is possible.”

 


Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
g@gordonjohnson.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Study To Research Impact of Progesterone on TBI Patients

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Posted on 12th February 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Ironically, despite a strong recommendation from the authors of the Guidelines for the Management of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury that the use of steroids was NOT recommended for the treatment of severe traumatic brain injury, research in the area continues. The irony is that the Brain Trauma Foundation is supporting such research, despite the fact that they were the publishers of the Guidelines. The Guidelines were published in Journal of Neurotrauma, Volume 24, Supplement 1, 2007. http://www.braintrauma.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Guidelines

The latest guideline said this about steroids:

The majority of available evidence indicates that steroids do not improve outcome or lower ICP in severe TBI. There is strong evidence that steroids are deleterious; thus their use is not recommended for TBI.

Currently there is little enthusiasm for re-examing the use of existing formulations of steroids for treatment of patients with TBI. If new compounds with different mechanisms of action are discovered, further study may be justified.

I guess a lot has changed in less than three years. A nationwide study, named ProTECT, on the use of progesterone to treat moderate to severe brain injury will be conducted at 17 hospitals across the nation, it was announced Wednesday.
http://www.henryfordhealth.org/body.cfm?id=46335&action;=detail&ref;=1057 Progesterone also known is a steroid hormone which is part of the female reproductive cycle.

The study, funded by the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, will track 1,100 patients nationally for at least three years. http://www.freep.com/article/20100210/BUSINESS06/100210029/1320/Hospitals-take-part-in-brain-injury-study

The goal of the research is to find out if the hormone progesterone can lessen the disability and death, that can stem from Traumatic Brain Injury, the leading cause of death and disability in those younger than 44 years old, according to the Brain Trauma Foundation.

Research with animals has found that progesterone may lessen brain damage resulting from TBI.

ProTECT is a double-bind study, and will evaluate patients with moderate to severe brain damage. The evaluation must take place within four hours of the injury, and enrolled patients will either be given a placebo or the progesterone intravenously.

The Food and Drug Administration is allowing hospitals to enroll patients without written consent because TBI patients may not be conscious or have the ability to make an informed decision right after their injury.

Four Detroit hospitals will take part in the study, namely Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit-Receiving Hospital, Sinai-Grace Hospital and Beaumont Hospital.

One of the last studies on the use of steroids for TBI was halted mid-trial because of hard evidence that it was doing more harm than good. We hope this one is monitored with extremely tight controls, with no vested stake in continuing the study if things start to go wrong.

Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
g@gordonjohnson.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Richardson death revives debate on ski helmets

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Posted on 20th March 2009 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 3/19/2009 11:14 PM

By MEGAN K. SCOTT
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — News that actress Natasha Richardson died of head injuries after falling on a ski slope has renewed debate over whether helmets should be mandatory for snowboarders and downhill skiers.

The 45-year-old actress was not wearing a helmet when she fell Monday at Mont Tremblant ski resort in Quebec. She died Wednesday in a New York hospital.

It’s unclear whether a helmet could have saved Richardson. But research shows wearing a helmet decreases the likelihood of having a head injury by 40 to 60 percent, said Dr. Robert Williams, associate professor of anesthesia and pediatrics at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vermont.

“There’s no downside at all to wearing a helmet,” he said.

In the United States, the National Ski Areas Association is not aware of any states that mandate helmets. But the association and its member resorts promote their use, and a growing number of skiers and snowboarders choose to wear them.

According to the group, nearly half of U.S. skiers and snowboarders wore helmets in the past two years, up from about 25 percent five years earlier. Sales of helmets have grown at a rate of about 9 percent each year since 2005-2006, according to SnowSports Industries America.

Quebec officials said Thursday that they are considering making helmets mandatory on ski slopes following Richardson’s accident. Emergency room doctors had been lobbying for the requirement, and Richardson’s death added impetus to the plans, said Jean-Pascal Bernier, a spokesman for the sports minister.

“By no means will a helmet save you 100 percent but it’s definitely a step in the right direction to try to prevent brain damage or something like that,” said Valerie Powell of the Canada Safety Council.

But the National Ski Areas Association, based in Lakewood, Colorado, stops short of calling for legislation.

The increase in helmet usage has not reduced the overall number of ski fatalities; more than half of the people involved in fatal accidents last season were wearing helmets at the time of the incident, according to information gathered by the group.

And ski and snowboarding-related deaths are relatively rare. During the 2004-2005 season, 45 fatalities occurred out of the 56.9 million skier/snowboarder days reported for the season, according to NSAA.

Helmets may be effective at preventing minor injuries, but they have not been shown to reduce fatalities, said Jasper Shealy, a professor emeritus at the Rochester Institute of Technology who has been studying skiing and snowboarding since 1970.

He encourages people to wear helmets, although he suspects they may give people a false sense of security to engage in risky stunts. Helmets work better at slow speeds, he said, when they can protect against injuries caused by collisions with solid objects.

Ski operators are among the most vocal opponents to mandated helmet use.

Alexis Boyer of the Quebec Ski Areas Association said 90 percent of youngsters under 12 already use helmets, but making that law would put operators in the position of having to police their guests, many of whom come from outside the province and country and may not be aware of the requirements.

Still, people tend to change their behavior as a result of high-profile deaths.

Andrea Fereshteh, 29, a writer at Duke University, said she started wearing a helmet after the ski-related deaths of Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy. Both crashed into trees.

“It just became much more publicized about the need for helmets,” she said.

Richardson’s death is likely to hit home for skiers because she was on a beginner slope when she fell. Resort officials say she seemed fine immediately afterward and even refused to see a doctor but that she began complaining of a headache about an hour later and was rushed to hospital.

Scott Kerschbaumer, a former ski instructor who has never worn a helmet, considered Bono’s and Kennedy’s skiing deaths to be the result of high-speed, somewhat reckless behavior.

Richardson shows “that the most serious of injuries and even death can result from the most innocuous of falls while skiing.”

Kerschbaumer said he hadn’t wanted to wear a helmet because of vanity and comfort, but will now purchase one for himself and his 6-year-old son.

As a beginner skier, Latoicha Phillips Givens, 35, an attorney in Atlanta, thought she was safe skiing without one. She said she certainly is going to wear one now.

But Bill Douglass, 37, a social media strategist in New York City, said he doesn’t want to see people overreact.

“I think wearing a helmet when skiing is going too far,” he said. “Better to encourage people to focus on smarter safety measures like taking classes, learning how to stop properly, that kind of thing.”

___

Associated Press Writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
g@gordonjohnson.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Brain Injury and Depression

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Posted on 29th October 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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When we think of the impact that brain injury has on a person, it is often the ability to process, record and recover information that comes to the forefront. We focus on the thought processes or problems in memory first, and the emotional aspects of brain injury last. However, depression is a significant and debilitating factor in many brain injuries.

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, significant depression will affect 6 out of 100 people in the general population. However, research has found that if TBI is involved this number may increase by ten times.

Lack of inhibition and compromised frustration levels can affect a brain injured individual’s ability to control anger. The same mechanisms can affect an individual’s emotional responses on many levels and emotional responses may become exaggerated or inappropriate.

Depression, however, is not only triggered by the physical changes in the person’s state.

“Many research studies show that post-TBI depression is associated with poorer rehabilitation outcomes, reduced activities of daily living, increased experience of failure, increased stress, reduced employment, more frequent divorce, increased family burden, reduced social-recreational activity, increased sexual problems, reduced life satisfaction and poorer health-related quality of life.”

Whether depression is triggered by the inability of the brain to cope with emotional signals or environmental changes which occur as a result of decreased functioning or whether it involves an actual chemical change in the brain, depression is a serious issue which needs to be addressed.

Individuals who were exceptionally high functioning before an injury occurred are often at a higher risk for depression because of their inability to achieve pre-injury functioning. A lack of ability to stay on task due to lower frustration levels, inability to multitask and diminished stamina can all contribute to a feeling of worthlessness when measuring themselves against their former selves. This process becomes a cycle between frustration and anger which can isolate the individual from previous social interactions.

It is accepted by the medical community that a feeling of being a burden on others and not being of value in the world can lead to suicidal ideation. When a formerly high functioning individual is placed in a situation which makes them dependent on a caregiver and removes them from pre-injury productivity, it can become a severe blow to self worth, which can lead to depression.

Depression is a highly treatable condition which requires admission that depression is present. This may or may not be possible if the brain injured person has no self awareness about their own emotional functioning. It is important that family members and caregivers understand the signs and symptoms and what they can do to help.

A brain injured person is more likely to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs in an attempt to cope with the changes which have occurred. Because they have a compromised system, they are more vulnerable to the use of substances which can escalate the problem. These issues may need to be addressed as well with a knowledgeable professional experienced in treating brain-injured individuals.

There is an excellent brochure available from the Brain Injury Association entitled “Coping with Depression after Traumatic Brain Injury” which describes the factors which may lead to depression and what the survivor and family can do to manage depression.

Gordon Johnson
g@gordonjohnson.com
www.tbilaw.com
www.subtlebraininjury.com

Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
g@gordonjohnson.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Bridge Back from Brain Injury Despair

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Posted on 23rd May 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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In 1997, Becca Martin and I created https://waiting.com. It is certainly the most important thing I have done in my career. One of the most important contributions of that page was that its Bridge from Despair was the first internet collection of stories from those who had suffered the tragedy of brain injury on the internet. The internet was young then, and people were just beginning to discover the value of the connection it creates.

Yesterday I got this story, and I thought this blog would be a good place to tell this story, a story we will probably add to https://waiting.com/waitingbridge.html

Dear Mr. Johnson,

10 months ago I had a serious car accident and was in coma for 1 week. I had 3 brain-bleedings and 2 brain contusions. While I was in the coma my parents were with me and spoke to me. My father is German and we live in Germany, my mother is English. And I think she spoke a lot in English with me, because since the coma I often think in English. I am very, very grateful to them that they were by my side. This is the most important thing in the world. The love of your parents. You feel it and you know that they are with you, although you are in the coma. To give this deep love is the most comforting and the most beautiful thig you can do to the person you love. And to know that there are people who don`t look at you like doctors look at their disabled patients is comforting. I want to thank you very much for your work. You really help the people. If you come back, sort of return to the world, it isn`t easy at all to talk to people about this time. Mostly they don`t understand, how could they?

I had just one possibility to get to know another person with a near death experience. And this was so different from mine. I don`t remember anything concerning the accident. And I even lost months of memory before the accident, but I can recall my near death experience. I saw multiple universes in higher dimensions. I`m sorry, I don`t know why I am telling you this. Maybe because I don`t know anyone I could talk to about this. Since I am reading books about the quantum-physical possibility of multiverses I feel a bit reliefed, because I know now, that there`s a scientific explanation for what I saw. But I know that every physicist I`d talk to about this topic would bring me to the booby hatch.
I know, that I was very lucky, that I can think again.

The neurologist couldn`t explain my improvement. Although I have problems remembering things, I want to finish the exams on the university in Munich. It might sound queer, but after I have been hating the woman who ran into me far too fast (and sometimes I still hate her and try not to do it) I thought that following Kant`s categorial imperative and wishing a peaceful earth for everyone, I hope that I can release the hate. And I am grateful that I was able to go through this near death experience.

You give the people hope, information and the feeling that one can talk about the accident. Thank you!

Lisa
alchwarizmi@web.de
Thank you Lisa for allowing me to post your story on this blog.

Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
g@gordonjohnson.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Brain Injury Association Urges Support for Wounded Warriors Act

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Posted on 8th May 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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From the Brain Injury Association of Wisconsin:

Dear Friends:

Take Action!
Urge Your Senator to Cosponsor The Caring for Wounded Warriors Act of 2008
BIAA (Brain Injury Association of America) has endorsed The Caring for Wounded Warriors Act of 2008 (S. 2921), legislation introduced on Monday, April 28 by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton which would increase support for family caregivers of servicemembers with TBI. Several recommendations made by BIAA during the legislative drafting process were incorporated into the bill.

BIAA encourages you to urge your Senator to sign on as a cosponsor of this important legislation.

The bill would require two pilot programs to be implemented through the Department of Veterans Affairs, improving the resources available to those caring for returning service members with TBI.

The first pilot program, which would provide for training, certification, and compensation for family caregiver personal attendants for veterans and members of the Armed Forces with TBI, is very similar to a provision in last year’s Heroes At Home Act of 2007, which BIAA also strongly endorsed.

The second pilot program would leverage existing partnerships between Veterans Affairs facilities and the nation’s premier universities, training graduate students to provide respite care for families caring for wounded warriors suffering from TBI.
To urge your Senator to become a cosponsor of S. 2921, click on the ‘Take Action’ link in the upper right corner of this email.

The Brain Injury Association of Wisconsin and the Brain Injury Association of America support this legislation.

If you have trouble with the “Take Action” button at the top, please let BIAW know. To “Take Action” visit www.biausa.org. Click on Policy & Legislation, then Legislative Action Center, and then Take Action.

Sincerely yours,

Pat David
Brain Injury Association of WI
For those not in Wisconsin, your Senators and Congressmen can be found at http://www.senate.gov/ and http://www.house.gov/

Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
g@gordonjohnson.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Brain Injury Association to Hold Caregivers’ Conference

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Posted on 7th May 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Caregivers’ Conference

The National Brain Injury Caregivers’ conference will be held in Dallas, TX on June 6-8, 2008 at the Westin Dallas Fort Worth Airport Hotel. The conference provides, caregivers of a person with a brain injury, support and guidance.

The conference will feature numerous medical professionals, over 25 experts and Lee Woodruff, special guest and best selling author. Lee Woodruff is the wife of Bob Woodruff, who suffered a brain injury in the Iraq War. His story is well chronicled, see for example: http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Story?id=2904214

The conference is presented by The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA). BIAA was founded in 1980, as an organization that supports individuals that are affected or individuals that have someone close that has been affected by a traumatic brain injury, by providing information and education.

Other speakers:
Joseph C. Richert
Chair, Brain Injury Association of America
President & CEO, Special Tree Rehabilitation System

Gregory J. O’Shanick, MD
President/Medical Director, Center for Neurorehabilitation and
National Medical Director, Brain Injury Association of America

Thomas Kay, PhD
Director Neuropsychology, Carmel and Associatates

Sarah Wade
Spouse of Injured Veteran

John Corrigan, PhD
Director, Ohio Valley Center for Brain Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation

Michael Howard, PhD
Clinical and Rehabilitation Psychologist, Lecturer
Biomed General Corporation

Janet Tyler, PhD
Director, Kansas TBI Project

Julie Peterson-Shea
Parent of child with brain injury

Lisa Silver
Transition Assistance Advisor, West Virginia National Guard

Peggy Keener
Parent of Person with Brain Injury

Faye Eichholzer
Spouse of Person with Brain Injury

Cheryl Amoruso
Sibling of Person with Brain Injury

Richard P. Bonfiglio, MD
Medical Director, HealthSouth Harmarville

Mike Davis, CBIS-CE
Neurological Case Management Associates

James Mikula, PhD
Neuropsychologist, Private Practice

Carolyn Rocchio
Caregiver of Person with brain injury

Laura Schiebelhut
Director of Public Policy, Brain Injury Association of America

Tim Feeney PhD
Executive Director, School and Community Support Services

Planning for the Transition from School Services to Adulthood
Linda Wilkerson, MSEd
President, Minds Matter LLC

Janet Tyler, PhD
Director, Kansas TBI Project

Visual Changes after Brain Injury
William Padula, OD
Director, Padula Institute of Vision Rehabilitation

Vocational Options After Brain Injury
Brandy Reid
Team Leader/Vocational Evaluator, Pate Rehab Dallas, TX

Kellie Manderfeld
Clinical Manager, Pate Rehab Dallas TX

Bill Ditto
Director, New Jersey Division of Disability Services


Tina Trudel, PhD
President/COO, Lakeview Healthcare Systems, Inc.

Susan H. Connors
President & CEO, Brain Injury Association of America

For further information:
http://biausa.org/livingwithbi.htm

Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
g@gordonjohnson.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

TBI Act Signed into Law

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Posted on 4th May 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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From the Brain Injury Association:


Brain Injury Association of America
Policy Corner E-Newsletter – May 2, 2008
A weekly update on federal policy activity related to traumatic brain injury
__________________________________________________________________

Dear Advocates:

This week marked a major legislative victory for the brain injury community, as President Bush officially signed into law legislation reauthorizing the TBI Act (S. 793) on Monday, April 28! Congratulations to all BIAA state affiliates, advocates, and national stakeholders who helped make TBI Act reauthorization a reality. To view a copy of BIAA’s official press release applauding this major accomplishment, please visit our website at http://www.biausa.org/policyissues.htm.

In other exciting news, BIAA proudly endorsed The Caring for Wounded Warriors Act of 2008 (S. 2921), legislation introduced on Monday, April 28 by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton which would increase support for family caregivers of servicemembers with TBI. Several recommendations made by BIAA during the legislative drafting process were incorporated into the bill. A copy of BIAA’s Letter of Endorsement for S. 2921 will be available shortly on our website at http://www.biausa.org/policyissues.htm.

Also this week, a report was released by the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General which found that the VA is not providing the necessary standard of support and long-term follow-up assistance needed by veterans with TBI and their families.

In addition, after the House of Representatives passed by a veto-proof margin last week important legislation which would place a moratorium until March 2009 on several harmful Medicaid regulations (H.R. 5613), the fate of the bill was left up to the Senate. Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) attempted to bring the bill up on the Unanimous Consent Calendar, but this attempt was blocked by Senator Coburn (R-OK). Now there is an effort to get the bill included in the FY 2008 Supplemental Appropriations bill. BIAA continues to strongly endorse H.R. 5613 and supports efforts to include the bill in the FY 2008 Supplemental Appropriations bill.

As a final note, BIAA is waiting to see if Congress will be able to establish a budget this year before sending out its Legislative Action Alert on FY 2009 TBI Appropriations. There is speculation that Congress may indeed be able to achieve a budget agreement in the upcoming next few weeks, and BIAA’s Appropriations Action Alert will be sent out shortly thereafter.

*Distributed by Laura Schiebelhut, BIAA Public Affairs Manager, on behalf of the Brain Injury Association of America; 703-761-0750 ext. 637; lschiebelhut@biausa.org

The Policy Corner is made possible by the Adam Williams Initiative, Centre for Neuro Skills, and Lakeview Healthcare Systems, Inc. The Brain Injury Association of America gratefully acknowledges their support for legislative action.
__________________________________________________________________

President Bush Signs TBI Act Reauthorization Bill Into Law

This week marked a major legislative victory for the brain injury community, as President Bush officially signed into law legislation reauthorizing the TBI Act (S. 793) on Monday, April 28! Congratulations to all BIAA state affiliates, advocates, and national stakeholders who helped make TBI Act reauthorization a reality.

BIAA issued a press release applauding this major accomplishment, noting that achieving successful reauthorization of the TBI Act has been BIAA’s biggest federal legislative priority this year.
BIAA President and CEO Susan Connors said, “TBI is recognized as a signature injury of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The programs authorized by the TBI Act play a critical role in improving the nation’s ability to meet the needs of individuals with brain injury, military and civilian alike.”

This major policy accomplishment simply would not have been possible without the tremendous efforts of BIAA state affiliates, advocates, and collaboration among national stakeholders, as well as the leadership of numerous Members of Congress and the dedicated efforts of their staff members.

In particular, BIAA expresses profound appreciation for the leadership efforts of Senator Edward Kennedy, Senator Orrin Hatch, Representative Bill Pascrell, Representative Todd Platts, Representative John Dingell, and Representative Frank Pallone, all of whom played critical roles in ensuring the progress of this bill.

To view a copy of BIAA’s press release, please visit our website at http://www.biausa.org/policyissues.htm.

BIAA Strongly Endorses The Caring for Wounded Warriors Act of 2008

In other exciting news, BIAA proudly endorsed The Caring for Wounded Warriors Act of 2008 (S. 2921), legislation introduced on Monday, April 28 by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton which would increase support for family caregivers of servicemembers with TBI. Several recommendations made by BIAA during the legislative drafting process were incorporated into the bill.

The bill would require two pilot programs to be implemented through the Department of Veterans Affairs, improving the resources available to those caring for returning servicemembers with TBI.

The first pilot program, which would provide for training, certification and compensation for family caregiver personal attendants for veterans and members of the Armed Forces with TBI, is very similar to a provision in last year’s Heroes At Home Act of 2007 (S. 1065/H.R. 3051), which BIAA also strongly endorsed.

The second pilot program would leverage existing partnerships between Veterans Affairs facilities and the nation’s premier universities, training graduate students to provide respite care for families caring for wounded warriors suffering from TBI.

Note: The legislation specifies that the curricula for the TBI Family Caregiver Personal Care Attendant Training and Certification Program “shall incorporate applicable standards and protocols utilized by certification programs of national brain injury care specialist organizations.” The legislation further specifies that the VA should also use such applicable standards and protocols in providing training for graduate student respite care providers.

A copy of BIAA’s Letter of Endorsement for S. 2921 will be available shortly on our website at http://www.biausa.org/policyissues.htm.

VA Inspector General Releases Report Criticizing TBI Care for Veterans

Also this week, a report was released by the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General which found that the VA is not providing the necessary standard of support and long-term follow-up assistance needed by veterans with TBI and their families.

The report, which was conducted at Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel Akaka’s (D-HI) request, found specifically; “While case management has improved, long-term case management is not uniformly provided for these patients, and significant needs remain unmet.”

A copy of the report can be found at http://www.va.gov/oig/54/reports/VAOIG-08-01023-119.pdf.

Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
g@gordonjohnson.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.