Members of the armed forces will now receive traumatic injury protection under coverage afforded by the Service Members Group Life Insurance Policy. For traumatic brain injuries coverage will be provided for injured service members who suffered "coma or the inability to carry out two of the six activities of daily living due to traumatic brain injury" The coverage will be retroactive for traumatic injuries including traumatic brain injuries suffered between October 7, 2001 and December 1, 2005. More information can be obtained from the insurance program website. Thanks to the my life as a military spouse blog for this information.
After reading this post, I went back to review the six activities of daily living to determine how appropriate they were to a rating system for determining disability from traumatic brain injuries. The six activities of daily living (ADLs) are the basic tasks of everyday life bathing, dressing, toilet use, transferring (in and out of bed or chair) urine and bowel continence and eating.
Unfortunately, this is a poor scale for determining impairment as a result of a traumatic brain injury. Its focus is on physical impairments rather than cognitive impairments. I have seen many individuals in my brain injury legal practice who can perform all of the activities of daily living but are so cognitively impaired that they are unable to live alone.
In looking at the distinction between brain trauma causing physical impairments and brain injury causing cognitive impairments, consider a young child. Can they dress themselves, feed themselves, go to the bathroom, get of bed or a chair? Sure. But, would you leave them at home by themselves while you went away for the weekend? If you did , you would end up in jail. Yes, they are able to care for their physical needs, but their mental capacity, their insight and judgment prevents them from being left alone. Similarly, a person with cognitive brain injury cannot be left alone even though they may have fully recovered from their physical injuries.
Let's hope that the definition of traumatic brain injury impairment is changed to reflect the true reality of what living with a traumatic brain injury is all about. Brain Injury is the invisible injury that impacts upon an individual's ability to function. It is not the physical injury but the cognitive injury that causes functional impairment.