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New report: NC’s services to people with traumatic brain injury are “shamefully inadequate”

A new report from experts at the nonprofit advocacy organization Disability Rights NC offers a damning assessment of the actions North Carolina is taking (and, more typically, NOT taking) to provide services to people with traumatic brain injuries — often referred to as “TBI.”

The following excerpts are from “Shamefully Inadequate: North Carolina’s Service System for People with Traumatic Brain Injuries:

The State of North Carolina lacks adequate services and systems to support people with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). It lacks even basic data about the location and needs of TBI survivors. The state’s own publications support these conclusions.

The report then highlights the following excerpt from the state’s own plan for serving people with TBI:

Some North Carolina children and adults with TBI are unable to reach optimal physical, cognitive, and psychological functioning following a traumatic brain injury because of smaller provider networks due to lack of funding for, or access to, necessary and appropriate therapeutic services… As a result of lack of knowledge and misdiagnosis, survivors often do not get referrals to specialized treatment. As such, individuals with TBI have sometimes been placed in inappropriate institutional settings (i.e., nursing homes, psychiatric in-patient hospitals) or are being sent out of state for residential programs because of the lack of support and appropriate community-based residential services for them in North Carolina.

As the report authors note:

This paragraph is an urgent call for action to address many serious concerns regarding the wellbeing and rights of people with TBI in North Carolina. However, a similar paragraph was in the state’s 2017 action plan for people with TBI. This sad and frustrating fact is clear evidence of the lack of progress North Carolina has made in creating a system of care and supports for people with TBI.

As with so many other areas in North Carolina’s torn and threadbare system of human services, there’s no particular mystery about what needs doing or how to go about it; the problem, as always, is the lack of a commitment (and, of course, adequate funding) from state leaders.

As a news release that accompanied the report put it succinctly:

The stories and data collected were consistent: North Carolina has failed to ensure that services for people with TBI are accessible and sufficient. The state does not track data on people with TBI, does not have an adequate TBI provider network, and leaves those with TBI and their families to navigate a complex system without needed case management.

“The data is clear and the stories are heartbreaking,” said DRNC CEO Virginia Knowlton Marcus. “People with TBI, their families, advocates, and providers have been calling upon the state, for many years, to establish an adequate, coherent support system for people with TBI. It is well past time for the state to take action about this shamefully inadequate system. We must not continue to overlook these issues.”

Click here to explore the report and its commonsense recommendations.

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