Last week I had the chance to attend (and speak at) the North American
Brain Injury Society's annual conference. One of the things I like
about this conference is that they offer different "tracks" for
participants to follow: Blast Injury Institute, Lifelong Treatment,
and Legal Issues in Brain Injury.
I mainly followed the Blast Injury Institute's focus on brain injury
care and had the honor to listen in on Jim Schraa (Craig Hospital).
Schraa gave some incredibly good practical advice for advocates. Among
other suggestions, he insisted the advocates need to get in front of
legislative aides. Aides are more likely to champion issues behind the
I also had a chance to speak with NABIS board member Deb McMorrow
(Mentor), who also served as a Blast Injury Institute panelist. She
told me that there are currently a lot of legislative efforts to
bolster and expand services within the VA, and that there are hopes
that military and civilian organizations will begin to collaborate in
more areas of research and education.
One of the biggest remaining obstacles that face veterans with brain
injury (as well as civilians) is dwindling coverage for cognitive
rehabilitation. Research demonstrates its efficacy and necessity, but
cognitive rehab is being shorn away from a number of insurance
carriers, as well as TRICARE.
If you're at all involved in veterans with brain injury, I encourage
you to heed Jim Schraa's advice and seek out the attention of
legislative aides to help get the message out.