What kind of design features should be built into housing for people with moderate to severe brain injury? I work for an affordable housing developer. I would like to incorporate features that would assist specifically for impairments frequently associated with TBI.
It is important for the housing to be accessible for the individual with TBI, but the specific accessibility adaptations to use depend on the specific impairments of the individual.
If the individual is using a wheelchair, then typically the home should include entry-exit doorways and room doorways that are wide enough to allow the wheelchair to pass. Also, having countertop space, cabinets, and equipment at wheelchair height is important.
If the individual is ambulatory but has cognitive, perceptual, or behavioral problems, then the physical environment should be easily understandable and the sensory cues should be easy to interpret. Confusing or provocative designs should be avoided. At times, way-finding is difficult for people with TBI, so the pathways should be clear.
Elliot Roth, MD is the Paul B. Magnuson Professor and chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and chairman of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.