Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy – How Are We Really Treating Our Service Members and Veterans with Brain Injuries?

Posted by Marilyn Lash, M.S.W. on 27th Dec 2010

As I settled in with my morning cup of coffee at my desk this morning, I was struck by the contradiction of what’s been achieved and where we are now in the world of brain injury. I started my morning with the 30th Anniversary Tribute Edition of THE Challenge! by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA). As I read through the organization’s history starting with that initial meeting at Marilyn Spivack’s kitchen table in 1980 which led to the founding of the National Head Injury Foundation, I couldn’t help but be impressed. So much has been accomplished since then, not only in the development and expansion of brain injury treatment, services, and research but through BIAA’s leadership in public policy.

Then I turned to my e-mail and the Internet and was shocked when I read the article Pentagon Plan Won’t Cover Brain-Damage Therapy. Our service members and their families are still struggling to obtain the treatment and services needed as illustrated by Ted and Sarah Wade’s personal story. Despite all our progress since 1980, this article clearly shows that the need and benefits of cognitive rehabilitation therapy are still not well understood and even considered controversial by some. Tricare, which is the insurance program for our service members and veterans, has just ruled that the “…scientific evidence does not justify providing comprehensive cognitive rehabilitation.”

Those of us who work or live in the world of brain injury know that cognitive rehabilitation is far different than physical rehabilitation. We also know that the cognitive impact of a brain injury on the survivor, the family and the caregivers has a direct affect on the quality of life for everyone – both in the short term and over the long haul. What do you think?