Geoffrey Lauer, the Executive Director of the Iowa Brain Injury Alliance and a long-time advocate for people living with a brain injury, wrote an op ed in the Cedar Rapid Gazette of April 17, 2014 which spoke to the need to increase funding for community-based programs to prevent the disabilities caused by brain injury which can create a premature and unnecessary admission to a nursing home. Here in Oklahoma we look towards Iowa as a state who has taken the needs of people living with a brain injury seriously and created funding resources and stimulated the development of programs to serve people across their lifespan. Yet, Mr. Lauer is asking the Iowa legislature for more funding and he is most eloquent and clear in his reasons; that being to allow people to receive the services and assistance they need in the least restrictive settings and to support people living in the community.
Brain injury is a disability which can bring about a life of institutionalization for a person. It can alter a person’s life, create dependence on others and negatively impact on their health. Without community-based resources, people living with a brain injury-related disability will end up in nursing homes long before they enter old age. Iowa and a few other states have made a real start to address the problem. But, as Mr. Lauer points out, more is needed. In some states, like Oklahoma, we need to make that initial start. Brain injury is a cumulative disability as each year more people will join the ranks of people living with a brain injury. Brain injury occurs throughout the lifespan, in children, young adults and older citizens. It is prevalent in our returning veterans. It is a cause of homelessness and incarceration. Many individuals with mental health and substance abuse problems have an underlying brain injury. Each year more Oklahomans are joining the ranks of people living with a brain injury. When we look around at what resources are available for people in Oklahoma there is not much we can find.
Its time to wake up to the problem and address what services are needed by people living with a brain injury and fund those services at an appropriate level.
Click here to read Mr. Lauer’s op ed.