Case managers or social workers may be available through treatment centers or through your state’s health and human services organizations. They may be aware of specific types of aid particular to your circumstances. Veterans, on the other hand, should approach their care coordinators to help identify options that may (or may not) exist.
18. What are some housing options for people with TBI?
Keeping and maintaining a home environment is difficult enough for the average person; with a TBI, housing issues can become a real problem. Finding help for your housing needs is a complicated, difficult task, and in some areas of the country, adequate housing simply may not be available.
Your local Department of Health may be able to direct you to housing assistance programs in your area. For those requiring in-home medical assistance, some programs may be available through local nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, or community support programs.
19. Will I be able to resume my old job, or find new, meaningful employment?
TBIs often upset a person’s ability to work, but many people who experience a TBI are able to return to their previous occupations. You may require additional assistance or certain technologies (voice recorders, organizers, or visual aids) in order to resume former duties, or you may enlist the help of a vocational rehabilitation expert to find new and meaningful employment. In severe cases, a person may not be able to physically participate in work.
Businesses that employ more than 15 people must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) or face legal repercussions. If you have a substantial impairment from a TBI, then the ADA requires your employer to provide you with reasonable accommodation.
To learn more about your ADA rights, visit http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/ada18.html.
20. Who will love me?
TBI does not affect your ability to love or be loved, but it can have an effect on relationships. While no studies offer information about relationships in the case of mild TBIs, one study reports that 46 percent of people who sustained moderate to severe TBI experienced a divorce within five years after their injury.11
Despite the numbers affecting the severe TBI population, many people with TBI are able sustain and nurture their relationships with minimal difficulties. In some cases, leaning on resources such as support groups or relationship counselors can be a helpful way to deal with relationship challenges.
21. How do I deal with all these new emotions like depression, anxiety, anger?
Emotional hardship is one of the most common consequences of TBI. It is a frightening and frustrating injury, and can cause you to feel depressed, anxious, or angry. If emotional problems begin to have a direct effect on your ability to function and maintain your relationships, you should seek the help of a therapist or counselor familiar with TBI issues. Additionally, neuropsychiatrists and neuropsychologists may be of help in diagnosing and treating emotional disorders that arise after TBI.
22. Where do I find the services and help I need — not just for today, but down the road?
With TBI, finding the right kind of help can be tricky. In many cases, it’s much easier to ask for help from local organizations. Most states have a Brain Injury Association that may provide a list of services that are available. Additionally, state health and human services programs may offer case managers or social workers who can help create a treatment strategy for those with TBI.
23. What are the primary collaborating organizations ?
Brain Injury Association of America
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center
Health Resources and Services Administration
National Association of State Head Injury Administrators
National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, NICHD, NIH
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH
North American Brain Injury Society
Social Security Administration
Some of these answers are based in whole or in part on publications of The Centers for Disease Control and the Traumatic Brain Injury Research Group at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
- Faul M, Xu L, Wald MM, Coronado VG. Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations and Deaths 2002–2006. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2010.
- Selassie AW, Zaloshnja E, Langlois JA, Miller T, Jones P, Steiner C. The incidence of long-term disability following traumatic brain injury hospitalization in the United States Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation 2007. In press.
- Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC). [unpublished]. Washington (DC): U.S. Department of Defense; 2005.
- Langlois JA, Rutland-Brown W, Thomas KE. Traumatic brain injury in the United States: emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2006.
Written exclusively for BrainLine by Michael Paul Mason. For more information about author and brain injury case manager Michael Paul Mason, go to www.michaelpaulmason.com.
Michael Paul Mason, Michael Paul Mason is the founding editor of This Land, a monthly magazine based in Tulsa. Mason's first book, Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath, is an exploration into the harsh realities endured by people with brain injury.
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