In support of the Brain Injury Association of America
As an attorney who devotes his practice to representing those who have suffered traumatic brain injury, I believe it is important that the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) be recognized for its leadership on behalf of persons with a brain injury and their families.
The Brain Injury Association of America is the nation’s oldest and largest brain injury advocacy organization and is the acknowledged voice of brain injury on Capitol Hill and in the media. BIAA’s mission is to advance brain injury prevention, research, treatment and education, and strives to improve the quality of life for all individuals affected by these injuries.
BIAA is governed by a 21-member volunteer Board of Directors, representing a cross-section of individuals with brain injury, family members, researchers, clinicians, attorneys, educators and other members of the community. The association is managed by a seasoned president/chief executive officer, Susan Connors, with 30 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and has dedicated more than half of her career to the field of brain injury.
Susan and I have worked closely over the years for the benefit of brain trauma victims. She has been a steadfast supporter of my efforts, the efforts of my law firm, De Caro & Kaplen, LLP and the efforts of other brain injury attorneys to insure that brain injury victims have full and unrestricted access to the courthouse and full and fair compensation for injuries caused by careless, reckless and negligent conduct.
The leadership of the Brain Injury Association of America takes its fiduciary responsibility seriously. Since 2004, the Association has continually operated in the black, allocating any year-end surplus to reserves and has published its annual tax returns on its website.
At the close of the year, it is important that we review and acknowledge some of the important and recent contributions of the Brain Injury Association of America in brain injury awareness, prevention, legislative efforts, outreach and education:
• BIAA expanded enrollment in its National Brain Injury Information Center, a nationwide call center that automatically routes callers to affiliates. Trained specialists answered nearly 40,000 individual requests for help and earned a 98% satisfaction rating.
• BIAA attracted an average of 46,938 unique visitors per month to its website, placing the site among the top non-sponsored sites when searching the term “brain injury”.
• BIAA built an on-line forum for individuals with brain injury to share their expertise with one another; the forum receives 32,000 hits per month.
• BIAA unveiled a new campaign for Brain Injury Awareness Month in March, Brain Injury: Anytime, Anywhere, Anyone, with the supporting message: Brain Injuries do not discriminate and worked with the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force on Brain Injury Awareness Day on Capitol Hill.
• BIAA placed advertisements in NFL Preview, a publication of USA Today, in eight major media markets, to educate the public about all of the ways brain injuries are acquired, as part of its new “Someone You Love” initiative.
• BIAA worked closely with Congressional Quarterly Researcher on a 24-page monograph on brain injury, assisted Bloomberg News in its investigative journalism and was quoted in the national press almost 1,000 times in 2012.
• BIAA received accolades for its 32-page, 4-color news magazine, “The Challenge!” which is published quarterly and features inspiring stories of individuals with brain injury and family caregivers, valuable information on federal advocacy and updates from affiliates.
• BIAA’s Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialists (ACBIS) processed over 1,500 applications from licensed professionals and direct service workers who voluntarily demonstrated their knowledge, experience and commitment to caring for individuals with brain injury by earning an internationally-recognized credential. There are now over 5,000 certified specialists in the U.S.
• BIAA arranged monthly educational webinars in the Mitch Rosenthal Memorial Research Lecture Series, David Strauss Memorial Clinical Lecture Series and Caregiver Seminar Series, attracting over 2,000 viewers throughout the year.
• BIAA hosted executives from the nation’s leading brain injury rehabilitation and long-term service provider organizations at the 7th Annual Brain Injury Business Practice College to provide education on, among other topics, influence and change, ethics in the business of rehabilitation, working with third party payments, best practices, and business metrics.
• BIAA partnered with Allergan, Inc. to educate individuals with brain injury and family members about upper limb spasticity as well as with Avanir Pharmaceuticals about pseudo bulbar affect, which is an uncontrolled emotional outburst.
• BIAA collaborated with Mount Sinai School of Medicine in a National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research grant to prepare a policy brief on best practices for identifying children with brain injury and transitioning them to school and community.
• BIAA actively lobbied for favorable regulations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act –those involving mandatory benefit categories and non-discrimination provisions – and prepared advocates to implement healthcare reform at the state level.
• BIAA worked to reauthorize the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Act, the only federal legislation that addresses scientific research, data collection, public awareness and service system access for civilians with brain injury, furnishing testimony at the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing in March on “A Review of Efforts to Prevent and Treat Traumatic Brain Injury.”
• BIAA called on Congress to fully fund the TBI Act and to provide sufficient resources for the TBI Model Systems of Care, 16 research centers located across the U.S. that contribute to the only non-proprietary, longitudinal database on consequences of brain injury. The Model Systems are a key source of evidence-based medicine and serve as a proving ground for future researchers.
• BIAA furnished critical information and insight to the Agency on Healthcare Research and Quality on its study of post-acute rehabilitation of moderate to severe TBI and to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on home and community-based services for individuals with brain injury.
• BIAA actively participated with eight Washington, D.C.-based coalitions, including the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Trauma Coalition, Medicare Therapy Caps Coalition, Disability and Rehabilitation Research Coalition, Campaign for Public Health, Coalition to Preserve Rehabilitation, and the Coalition for Regenerative Stem Cell Medicine and served on multiple advisory boards and task forces to advance the Association’s goals.
• BIAA acquired a robust management information system, allowing the Association to efficiently and effectively communicate with constituents, conduct e-commerce, receive and acknowledge donations.
• BIAA received a generous in-kind donation of Cisco System telephone equipment to support its National Brain Injury Information Center.
• BIAA received a restricted grant to support developing awareness and fundraising activities with affiliates, including a nationally-branded Walk for Brain Injury and Race for Brain Injury.
• BIAA launched Bowling for Brain Injury with affiliates in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, and New York as the pilot sites for an ongoing, nationwide awareness and fundraising program.
• BIAA continued its Corporate Sponsorship Program, providing multiple opportunities for rehabilitation facilities to demonstrate their leadership in brain injury; expanded its National Directory of Rehabilitation Providers; and continued the ACBIS Alliance Award, recognizing organizations that demonstrate a commitment to ACBIS certification.
My partner, Shana De Caro and I believe it is incumbent upon us not only to zealously represent our clients, but also to educate the public about the serious consequences of brain injury in an effort to prevent needless injuries from occurring. In that regard, and in recognition of the important work performed by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), several years ago I proposed the creation of a voluntary annual endowment from the American Association for Justice, Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group (TBILG) membership funds to be allocated toward the vital BIAA educational initiatives. The membership of the Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group is comprised of national leaders in brain injury advocacy, education and prevention.
I am proud that this proposal was adopted by the entire TBILG membership and is funded by a voluntary individual $50 contribution made each year at the time of membership renewal. The endowment each year has made a substantial contribution to the Brain Injury Association of America who has utilized these funds for important public service announcements and other educational undertakings.
At the close of this year, Shana and I urge all those in the brain injury community, persons with a brain injury, family members and friends, attorneys, physicians, neuropsychologists and others providing essential services and support to victims of brain trauma to take an active role in the Brain Injury Association of America and voice our continued support for BIAA and its leadership.
With warm holiday greetings and best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year,