WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. - Brain injury is the third largest disability group in Tennessee. The Centers for Disease Control calls it a 'silent epidemic'.
TennCare Choices is Tennessee's program designed to help senior citizens and people with disabilities. We discovered it does not provide specifically for people who have had a traumatic brain injury.
Rich Jordan, a brain injury survivor, says, " I was in a car wreck, a terrible wreck. I hit a telephone pole going very very fast. It destroyed my life as I knew it."
Today, Rich calls the Crumley House in Limestone, Tenn. home. Rich says, "I want to live on my own and be independent."
The Crumley House helps people with a traumatic brain injury, like Rich, do just that -- relearn basic life skills.
Fredda Roberts, the Regional Services Coordinator at the Crumley House, says, "They need help, bathing dressing, but not just that. They need reminders or prompts to get back into the swing of life of taking care of themselves."
But not everyone gets that help. Fredda says, "I think there is a misconception that there are programs, safety nets out there to help people when they need help, but there are not."
Changes to the TennCare Choices program now requires a physical disability to get coverage and a brain injury doesn't count. It's now more difficult to qualify for services.
Rich was grandfathered in and gets Choices help, but he wouldn't qualify now.
Kelly Wilson gets no state support. She was hit by a car in 1981 and her family has had to finance her care ever since.
Fredda says, "Her functional ability, how she can care for herself, whether she can live independently that's not taken into account. She can walk, feed her self and if we give her medicine she can taken it, so she doesn't qualify."
The Crumley House is working with lawmakers to try and get brain injury recognized as a physical disability. This would help more people qualify for the TennCare Choices Program. The Crumley House would also like a state Medicaid waiver, the waiver would free up money to be used for brain injury survivors only.
Until that happens, Fredda works to match survivors with the community programs and services that are available. Fredda says, "They want to live the life we take for granted. They want it back. They work for it, but we are not helping, not enough."
The Tennessee General Assembly did establish the 'Traumatic Brain Injury Program' to help survivors and their families with information. To find out about this program and others click here.
The Crumley House is always looking for more funding to continue to provide services to help brain injury survivors. You can sponsor a scholarship for a brain injury survivor to receive care at Crumley House. Visit their website, to learn more.
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