TBI Service System Reform

According to a 2010 fact sheet from the Washington Department of Health:

  • every year Washington residents have about 5,500 TBI hospitalizations,
  • about 1,300 residents die of traumatic brain injuries,
  • TBI hospitalizations are about 10% of all injury-related hospitalizations, and
  • TBI deaths are about 29% of all injury-related fatalities.

Only a small portion of TBI cases result in hospitalization or death (one national estimate places the proportion at 23% for hospitalizations and 5% for deaths). National estimates indicate that about 2% of the US population live with long-term or lifelong TBI-related disability and if these national estimates hold true in Washington State, there are a total of nearly 123,750 residents with TBI-related disabilities.

To counter this epidemic, a state law (RCW 74.31) was enacted in 2007. The law provided for the establishment services and partnerships including statewide information and referral service, public awareness campaigns, TBI specific support groups statewide, and a pilot resource coordination project.

TBI planning must address services and interventions that are specific to the needs of survivors and families. Currently people with TBI are served in a variety of human service programs designed to meet the specific needs of a broader population, including mental health, alcohol and substance abuse, developmental disabilities and long-term care.

TBI impacts schools at all levels and all sectors of the judicial system, from juvenile rehabilitation to adult prison and parole systems. Prior to the passage of RCW 74.31.030, there has been no publically funded program in the state whose sole purpose is to address the specialized needs related to TBI, even though virtually all human service and judicial programs are impacted. Providers in generic human service programs, schools, and the judicial system are not trained to recognize TBI, and services are not tailored to the unique needs of the population. Veterans may require assistance to bridge Federal and State services to meet their needs. Targeted, specialized treatment and intervention would provide a much more efficient use of resources and improve community integration of individuals who live with TBI.

Summary of work: 

The passage of the Traumatic Brain Injury Strategic Partnership Act of 2007 (RCW 74.31), also known as the Tommy Manning Act, marked the first time ever that our state required 1) an examination of the support and service needs of people with traumatic brain injuries and their caregivers and 2) the development of a comprehensive plan to address those needs. 

DRW has worked as a member of the Council to ensure implementation of the key goals of the Council. Washington State now has: TBI information, referral and resource coordination to connect people with TBI and their allies with needed supports; an expanded system of support groups for TBI survivors and their families which provide opportunities for survivors to learn ways to advance their recovery and better their lives through mutual support; public awareness campaigns to educate the public about prevention of TBI and the need for TBI services; and a process to build partnerships with public and private organizations to implement a comprehensive plan.

Milestone: 2011

TBI Act revised and improved HB 1614

Milestone: 2010

SB 6444 allows increased TBI account flexibility

Milestone: 2009

DRW works to ensure TBI account and council remain intact

Milestone: 2008

Identification of needed revisions to the TBI law

Milestone: 2007

DRW supports passage of the Traumatic Brain Injury Strategic Partnership Act