Expanding on “Keeping Our Heads”

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Today, the New York Times ran my op-ed, “Keeping Our Heads,” which I wrote in response to Natasha Richardson’s death. I wrote the article in order to highlight the terrible gaps in our healthcare system that don’t appropriately address brain injury, but I feel that it’s necessary to clarify a couple of matters:

1) I wrote “According to a 2008 list put together by the American Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialists, there isn’t a single certified brain injury specialist (CBIS) working on America’s ski slopes.” While this is indeed a fact, it warrants a closer look. Most CBISs work in the brain injury services industry, and the certification is primarily intended to further educate those how to respond to people with brain injury AFTER the injury is happened. It just so happens, that during this education, you also develop a great sense of what a brain injury is, and how to spot one. I certainly don’t want to offer CBIS up as a bandage to the problem at large–which is that there is not a standardized response in civilian America (as opposed to military America). In fact, I encourage ACBIS to create a special “responders” certification that more appropriately fits this need.

2) In the editing process, some things were removed that I would have liked to keep. Here’s the paragraph that I think added the right historical context to the article:

“In November 2007, over 100 brain injury professionals rallied in Washington, D.C. in response to the growing number of Iraq War service members returning with brain injury. They identified 20 major barriers to adequate brain injury care and recommended appropriate responses… Since the release of the Barriers and Recommendations report (disclaimer: I edited the report), the Department of Defense has increased its funding allocations to brain injury research.”

While these were two points I wish could’ve been included in the final edit, I believe most readers will understand the spirit of the op-ed as a call to action for better brain injury care and services for all Americans.

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