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Episode 27: Why It's Time We Take Action On Traumatic Brain Injury

In this episode of Brain Injury Insider, host Michael V. Kaplen discusses why urgent action is required to tackle the public health emergency of traumatic brain injury.

Today concludes the first working week of brain injury awareness month.

It’s a good time to look back to see how far we have come and far we still need to go to address the issues facing brain injury survivors and their families.

A good place to start is a report to the Governor of New York State in 1986 entitled “Head Injuries in NYS- A report to the Governor”

Here is what the report from the New York State Department of Health in coordination with the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council, which I now am honored to chair, reported, and I quote:

“Head injuries that occurred in an instant have produced a lifetime of disappointment, anger and frustration for thousands of New Yorkers. When victims and their families seek assistance in resolving the problems that result from head injury, they find that in many cases no help is available.”

The report found:

  • There was no coordination of services
  • There was no defined state policies
  • There was comprehensive network of care or support

In 1987 a report was issued by the Federal Interagency Head Injury Task Force that echoed the findings in New York, and again I quote,

“There are no words to express the fear, anguish, and despair of TBI victims and their families. The problems resulting from severe impairment of a family member are compounded by the frustrations of trying to work within medical, legal, and social systems, that for the most part, are not equipped to deal with either the immediate or long-term consequences of TBI.

Indeed, many patients and their families find that the present system discourages efforts toward self-sufficiency and provides no support for the family as a unit.”

It took 10 more years before the Congress enacted The Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 1996 whose goals and aims were to:

  • Conduct research into the identification of effective strategies for preventing traumatic brain injury.
  • Implement public information and education programs for preventing TBI and for broadening public awareness about the public health consequences of TBI.
  • Provide technical assistance, either directly or through grants and contracts, to public or nonprofit entities for planning, developing, and operating projects to reduce the incidence of traumatic brain injury.
  • Present a report to Congress that describes the incidence and prevalence of traumatic brain injury.

16 years later, in 2012, with the assistance of a federal grant, New York State again examined the issues confronting persons with a brain injury and their families, and they found Nothing has changed!

Here were their recommendations in 2012

  • Enhance public knowledge of TBI treatment and prevention
  • Improve availability/access to community based TBI services
  • Enhance TBI provider training, diagnosis and treatment
  • Maximize educational/vocational opportunities
  • Address the need for accessible affordable housing

So now we are in the year 2021. 40 years after the first report in New York to the governor, and the same problems and issues still exist. Each year over 3.5 million Americans will sustain some form of brain trauma and many will live with lifelong physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral consequences.

Isn’t it time we stop talking and start doing?

Isn’t it time as a nation, we address the issues of the silent epidemic?

Isn’t it time we support the work and recommendations of the Brain Injury Association of America to support the walking wounded?

Find out more about Brain Injury Awareness Month at


Audio version

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Brain Injury Insider

michael kaplen
Brain Injury Insider is a weekly video update by The Brain Injury Law Firm ®. We cover the latest news and developments in traumatic brain injury, concussion, and brain injury law.