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Michael Phelan
Michael Phelan
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Brain Injury Victims Need Cognitive Rehabilitation

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Today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal features a front page story disussing the benefits of cognitive rehabilitation to victims of traumatic brain injury and the difficulty most victims have in getting their health insurance companies to pay for such crucial treatment. This article coincides with the publication today of a position paper from the Brain Injury Association of America entitled Cognitive Rehabilitation:The Evidence, Funding and Case for Advocacy in Brain Injury. This position paper may be obtained from the BIAA website at: http://www.biausa.org/policyissues.htm.

One of the co-authors of the BIAA position paper is a local Richmond, Virginia brain injury rehabilitation physician named Gregory O’Shanick, M.D. I have worked with Dr. O’Shanick on behalf of many brain injured clients and found him to be a brilliant physician and committed advocate for brain injury victims.

Head injury victims often suffer damage to the areas of the brain that control behavior, memory, or mental processing. The BIAA position paper states that

individuals who sustain brain injuries frequently have difficulties in arousal, attention, concentration, memory, problem solving, decision making, insight, and other areas of cognition htat impede their ability to function in everday activities.

These invisible injuries often go undiagnosed. The injured victim may look well but have trouble thinking, remembering, or controlling her or his emotions. For those who are lucky enough to have an astute doctor diagnose the cognitive impairments, the next battle is typically a fight with the insurance company to pay for the necessary cognitive rehabilitation. The BIAA position paper calls on legislators and insurers to increase access to cognitive rehabilitative services for patients with traumatic brain injuries. Cognitive disability poses a significant economic burden not only on the patient but also to society. Rehabilitating victims of brain injuries makes sense any way you look at the issue.