Gov. Northam announces federal funding for Virginia’s brain injury services

RICHMOND, Va. — Gov. Ralph Northam announced a three-year federal grant worth $900,000 that will go toward brain injury services in the Commonwealth.

Northam said in a news release on July 25 that the grant will fund work being done by the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitation Services (DARS) which has been working to enhance services and supports for Virginians with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The money will maximize the health, wellness and independence of people with TBI, along with their family members and support networks.

DARS and its primary subcontractor for services, the Brain Injury Association of Virginia, will carry out grant activities to improve access to services for TBI survivors, including those with behavioral health disorders, according to state officials.

“As a pediatric neurologist, I’ve seen how brain injuries and their aftermath can significantly alter the quality of life for survivors and their families,” said Governor Northam. “With these funds, we can bring more resources to treatment and care in the brain injury community, and also continue the important work of raising public awareness about the incidence of brain injury and advocating for the needs of individuals who are injured.”

Virginia will also be charged with mentoring other states that have less developed TBI programs, look to increase participation by survivors and caregivers, advance community outreach and involvement and provide survivor and family education. The money will also help the Commonwealth offer training on TBI to health care providers and community partners.

State officials involved in the program also hope to use the money to enhance brain injury data collected by state universities, such as VCU’s TBI Model Systems program, and other state-run organizations, such as DARS.

According to data collected by DARS, roughly 28,000 Virginians each year sustain brain injuries. These injuries range from mild concussions to more severe head trauma.

“Virginia continues to be at the forefront in responding to the needs of its citizens with acquired brain injury,” said DARS Commissioner Kathryn A. Hayfield. “It was one of the first states to codify through legislation a lead agency for brain injury and a brain injury state registry and it was one of the first to establish a statewide brain injury advisory board. Since the 1980s, the Commonwealth’s legislature has been supportive of funding requests to expand brain injury services in Virginia.”

State officials said in addition to DARS’ federal TBI grant, the agency’s Brain Injury Services Coordination Unit manages nearly $6 million annually in programs, contracts and grants involving brain injury services throughout the Commonwealth.

More information about the ACL Traumatic Brain Injury State Partnership Program can be found here.