Florida Releases Strategic Plan To Improve Traumatic Brain Injury Care
This year, over 8,000 Floridians will sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI), resulting in long-term disability. In many cases, these injuries are life changing not only for the survivor, but also for families and caregivers. Because prevention is the only cure, individuals should always take safety precautions such as wearing seat belts when traveling by car or wearing helmets while riding bikes. TBIs are most common in children and the elderly.
In response, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program announces the release of Florida’s first comprehensive strategic plan for traumatic brain injury (TBI). Florida’s Five-Year Strategic Plan: Enhancing the Traumatic Brain Injury System of Care will help to ensure that Florida’s TBI survivors and their families can access a comprehensive system of services and supports.
The Strategic Plan was based on Project ACTION (Assessing Communities To Identify Ongoing Needs), a three-year, federally funded partnership between the DOH Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program, the Brain Injury Association of Florida, and WellFlorida Council.
Developed in response to a 2007 Needs and Resources Assessment of Florida’s TBI survivors, their families and service providers, the plan outlines Florida’s vision for a statewide information, referral, planning and advocacy system. More than 30 survivors, family members and key stakeholders gathered in October 2007 to determine key strategic issues for the state. The following year, a workgroup of 11 members met monthly to develop goals and strategies for the identified issues.
Currently, more than 210,000 people in Florida live with a TBI-related disability, a number that is projected to increase to nearly 260,000 by 2020. In 2005, 93,000 TBIs (mild, moderate and severe) occurred in Florida, leading to more than 71,000 emergency department visits and nearly 18,000 hospitalizations.
Males account for nearly 75 percent of brain injuries. Traffic-related crashes account for nearly 64 percent of brain injuries, followed by falls (nearly 20 percent of injuries). Children 0-5 years, young adults 15-24 years, and adults 65 years and older are at greatest risk for TBI due to falls.
DOH advises Floridians of tips to help prevent brain injuries:
· Always wear a seat belt and insist all passengers wear one as well
· When biking, always wear a helmet
· Always buckle children into an approved safety seat
· Never shake a baby
· Secure throw rugs in the home to prevent slips and falls
TBI survivors and their families often require access to rehabilitation and life-long assistance to perform everyday activities. Long-term problems typically associated with a traumatic brain injury include memory loss and difficulty processing and retaining information, completing tasks, managing stress, controlling temper and dealing with depression. Eligible Florida residents who sustain a moderate-to-severe TBI can contact the DOH Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program for more information about necessary services needed to return to their families and communities.