North Texas Brain Injury Rehabilitation Collaboration Project

Texas Workforce Solutions – Vocational Rehabilitation Services (TWS-VRS) specialty rehab-services counselor VRC Barry Vining, M.S. CRC Meets With North Texas Brain Injury Model Team led by: Kathleen Bell, M.D. of Ut Southwestern

For over 30 – years; the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) held public awareness campaigns each month of March, this year’s theme being: Change Your Mind. Tx Workforce Solutions (TWS) provides local community One-Stop-Shops offering assistance in overcoming barriers to employment such as childcare, and as internet access to Tx Workforce Commission (TWC) Job Seeker Services including assistance with disability accommodations needed to acquire, to maintain, and to advance in one’s career through it’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) available in every region of the State. Joining with BIAA; TWS-VRS in collaboration with the Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Acquired Brain Injury all now annually recognize March as: Brain Injury Awareness Month.

Neuro-Rehabilitation Expert Dr. Bell, is Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas which in collaboration with Baylor Scott and White Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas staff the: North Texas Traumatic Brain Injury Model System (NTTBIMS), one of 16 such trauma intervention research centers nationwide. These 16 centers
coordinate ongoing family, caregiver, social, health care, and ancillary support services, collecting evidence-based data, contributing it to the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems National Data and Statistical Center (TBINDSC). 

Co-hosted by the UT Southwestern Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute ‘Hope After Brain Injury’ (HABI) program and by NTTBIMS; March 2019 Brain Injury Awareness Month began with their First Annual ABI Conference in the newly dedicated UT Southwestern West Campus Building 3 (WCB3) Dallas clinic. The Conference, held Saturday the 9th with guest speaker and TBI Survivor/Author Patti Foster, was called, “Partners in Recovery, Partners in Life: Traveling the Path after Traumatic Brain Injury. Meeting the interdisciplinary team of ABI Medical Specialists at WCB3, which in addition to it’s outpatient clinical space also houses a new state-of-the-art simulation center training the next generation of team-focused medical professionals; team-lead Dr. Bell introduced VRC Vining, explaining how their research results tracking the care given to ABI survivors has identified re-occurring problems encountered by caregivers which must be urgently and carefully addressed.

Having become ABI Advocates; caregivers with survivors from all over Texas were the attendees of this Conference, meeting to obtain and to share disseminated resource information available at tables staffed by volunteers from the different service providers participating in the NTTBIMS collaboration project. Rehabilitation Research Principal Investigator (PI) Shannon Juengst, PhD, CRC delivered the keynote presentation explaining the identification of ‘Care-Giver’ in ABI Recovery is an outside perspective, exhorting: “Working Together as Care Partners.” Emphasizing awareness of their own ability to master stages of recovery, she urged self-empowerment and self-advocacy as necessary for full psychosocial recovery.

Dr. Juengst asked VRC Vining, what happens to the patient and their long-term care partner when designated short-term benefits expire and their circle of emergency support, both socially and financially?” Knowing that as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), Dr. Juengst is a renown expert on difficulties people with ABI encounter when attempting to re-enter the workforce; VRC Vining assured her that TWS-VRS and HSC are currently designating liaisons State-wide to identify comparable resources to create new pathways to employment directly involving identified care partners as designated representatives in many cases when eligible survivors are presumed capable of Competitive, Integrated Employment (CIE) of functionally realistic and geographically available types appropriate for their unique skills, abilities, and personalities.

Following the Conference, Director of the UT Southwestern PM&R and Parkland PM&R Clinics – Surendra Barshikar, MD and his team (Therapist Deana Adams, PhD, LPC-S; Physiatrist Randy Dubiel, DO; Professor Amy Matthews, MD; Neuropsychologist Karen Brewer-Mixon, PhD, CRC; Speech Therapist Donna Noorbahksh, M.S., CCC-SLP, CBIS; and Social Worker Rochelle Brozgold Ready, LMSW) each gave VRC Vining overviews of their diverse roles in the project, encouraged by the new commitment on the part of State Governmental to diversify and to modernize its Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services (CRS) program assisting eligible people with TBI, traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI), or both, function independently in their home and community, offering more information at: