An estimated 33,126 Arkansans are living with long-term disabilities as a result of traumatic brain injury. Every day, at least one Arkansan sustains a moderate to severe TBI, and every 3-4 days, one of them succumbs to their injury. Traumatic brain injury is the #1 cause of disability in the United States, accounting for 113.4 million visits to the emergency department each year, an average medical cost of nearly $80,000 per year, and a 60-90% unemployment rate post-injury.
For many who sustain a traumatic brain injury, the journey back to living and working in the community can be long and winding, as survivors navigate the trauma system through acute care, rehabilitation, and case management. Not all survivors have the same access to the range of services, and the burden of proof for disability for TBI is often difficult.
Here in Arkansas, we’re fortunate to have a dedicated team of professionals whose mission it is to help folks with TBI: the UAMS Institute for Digital Health & Innovation – Trauma Rehab Resources Program. On this month’s episode of Speak Up Arkansas, we are delighted to have several members of the Trauma Rehab Resources Program with us, along with two survivors of traumatic brain injury to share their experience.
After we recorded the show, I got the following note from Constance, to add to her amazing story:
“My injury happened September 28th 2011. And I got out of BHRI right before Thanksgiving (Medicaid would only pay 30 days in BHRI).I ended up getting Medicare the following year.
They told my mom that I would never be 100% again and all of my difficulties (i.e., anxiety, attention, depression would be 10X), and that I would reach my full potential after 5 years, and that’s the case with most. When Danny was talking about time.
I notice my growth all during grad school and all way up to where I’m at now. I would have never been able to make it through grad school without my accommodations [because] it takes me so LONG to process! That’s why I am glad I landed this gig working with TBI plus it allows my mind to continue to learn and grow!
It’s a whole new journey for the family and survivors once you get out to the real world [because] of the new roles, adjustments, and loss of structure.
I struggle with processing and attention STILL. Especially my experience in grad school was challenging because of my difficulties.
They said it hit every lobe but my occipital. The bullet is actually still in my head-they were afraid to remove it [because] it could paralyze me again.”
What resources exist to help people with traumatic brain injury, who’s affected, where are the gaps, and what more can we do to support survivors? Keep listening to learn more about Traumatic Brain Injury, from those who have experienced it, and those who work to help survivors heal.
Kristen Alexander, MPH, MPS, Program Manager for Trauma Rehab Resources Program.
Danny Bercher, PhD, NRP, Assistant Director, UAMS Institute for Digital Health & Innovation
Dianne Campbell, LCSW, trauma case coordinator for the Trauma Rehab program.
Tony Thornton, RN, EMT-P. Tony is a paramedic and nurse living in Baxter County. He is the chair of the Arkansas Brain Injury Council and a person living with TBI.
Constance Tullis, LMSW – Constance is a social worker volunteer for the Trauma Rehab program and a person living with TBI.
Eddie Williams, BSN is the nurse educator for the Trauma Rehab program.
You can visit the Trauma Rehab Recovery Program online at atrp.ar.gov.
The Trauma Rehab program offers a 24/7 Nurse Hotline at 1-855-767-6983.
Download and print the Arkansas Traumatic Brain Injury Resource Guide or you can request a copy at the website above.
As always, you can call Disability Rights Arkansas at 1-800-482-1174 or visit us online at DisabilityRightsAR.org.