Following a brain injury, a lot of things can go wrong. You might not get all the insurance coverage you’re entitled to, or your rights might be violated such as by a doctor who does not keep your medical information confidential or a landlord who fails to make the stairs and elevators where you live work to safety standards. Or you may simply need someone to help you do laundry or balance your checkbook. Some people even find themselves trapped in extremely difficult situations, legal or financial. During the challenging times, people with brain injury must rely on advocacy.
“I started to call around to town officials and state government offices to ask them how to get out of the ward,” recalls Craig Sears, who found himself misplaced in the mental health system after a brain injury. “The ward was holding me against my will, and I knew I didn’t need to be there. I did know that I needed help in other areas because of my brain injury, but I also knew I was not mentally ill.”
What exactly does brain injury advocacy entail?
Brain injury advocacy involves identifying barriers to a better life and addressing those concerns with the right people and organizations. In many cases, a person with a brain injury will advocate for better healthcare treatment, better accommodations for their disability, and for better representation in legal matters.
Armed with basic information and helpful resources, anyone can become an effective advocate for themselves. Some people may choose to hire an advocate, such as a case manager or attorney, while others may ask family members and friends to help out.
Helpful advocacy resources
Does advocacy really make a difference?
Advocacy can be a difficult and time-consuming activity, but it can also be rewarding. Through advocacy, people have been able to change state and federal laws so that they become more favorable toward people with brain injury and even implement new laws for the support of people with brain injury.
“After nearly 20 years of waiting and being turned down, I turned to a local Congressman’s office for help,” says Craig. “Within two months, they cut through the red tape, and I finally received recognition of my TBI. My advocacy started as a means to overcome my own difficulties,” he says. “Now, it’s become my mission to make sure that no one else has to go through what I have.”