Developing a strategic plan to tackle TBI in Ohio

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Each year in households across our country, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention administers randomized telephone questionnaires for the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System. These calls deliver standard questions that are given in each state, as well as optional questions that come from local health officials. In 2014, at the request of the Ohio Valley Center (OVC) Brain Injury Program, people in Ohio who answered that call were asked about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

The results of the survey were surprising: 18 percent of respondents reported a head injury that caused them to lose consciousness, and 3 percent said that the injury was severe enough to knock them out for half an hour. Those data represented a crucial first step in helping OVC’s Brain Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation Program understand the scope of the TBI problem in Ohio. They also served as a beacon during the advisory committee’s 15-month strategic planning process, which was completed in July 2015.

The top priority of the strategic plan going forward: address the tertiary (long-term) effects of TBI.

“Up until now, we’ve had plenty of people working on public health messages to prevent TBI, and fewer groups working on immediate treatment,” says OVC Brain Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation Program Director Dr. John Corrigan, “but no one was working on tertiary prevention. We need to understand how to improve quality of life for people who suffered TBI in the past, and who, along with members of their family, may be suffering long-term TBI effects today.”

Each of priority in the new strategic plan cuts to the core of tertiary TBI prevention:

  • Gather more incidence data from local health departments, statewide surveys, and recipients of state services to get a clearer picture of TBI incidence.
  • Add TBI curricula to pre-service training in medicine, nursing, psychology, social work, counseling, education & corrections.
  • Augment TBI curricula for pre-service training of physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and therapeutic recreational professionals.
  • Promote adoption of team models when students return to school after TBI.
  • Promote adoption of best practices in community integration and behavioral health treatment for persons with TBI.
  • Develop a public awareness plan to educate policy-makers and the public on the lifelong needs of persons with TBI and their families, as well as a plan for systematically communicating the availability of services and supports for persons with TBI and their families.

Going forward, this strategic plan will help agencies in Ohio and beyond to understand the true scope of the TBI problem, which scientists have shown can affect complex thought patterns like planning, self-monitoring, self-awareness, and inhibition control. “There’s so much that needs to be done,” says Dr. Corrigan. “We needed to find this focus, given the small amount of resources that are available.”

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