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Brain Injury Association of America: Important Request

I received the following important request today from the Brain Injury Association of America:

Recently, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) appears to be deemphasizing medical rehab research, including valuable research related to TBI.  BIAA is working as part of a coalition of advocacy groups to send NIDRR a message that resources for medical rehabilitation research (referred to by NIDRR as "health and function" research) needs to be increased, not decreased.  We need your help!

In the past six months, NIDRR has eliminated funding for four Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RTCs) focused on medical rehabilitation research, including centers focused on neuromuscular research, arthritis, TBI community reintegration, and spinal cord injury. Four additional medical rehab RTCs (stroke, MS, aging with a disability, and psychiatric aspects of disability) have been delayed and NIDRR intends to announce these grants with a greater focus on employment and vocational rehab.

As an advocate for increased TBI services and research, you are encouraged to join NIDRR's national meeting/conference call on NIDRR's long range plan scheduled for Wednesday, March 19th, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. and express your views. The toll-free conference call number is (800) 762-6085. An operator will ask if you would like to submit input or just listen to the event. The operator will track the order of the people who want to provide input.

(Note: There are other ways to submit comments as well by the end of March if you cannot make the call.  Please contact Laura Schiebelhut, BIAA's Director of Government Affairs, if you have questions.)

We suggest making some or all of the following points:

1. NIDRR has served as the nation’s lead federal agency on rehabilitation and disability research  - including valuable research on TBI - and as such has maintained a broad portfolio of research as reflected in its current Long-Range Plan. This research portfolio includes three broad domains designed to enhance the quality of life of persons with disabilities in the areas of employment, community living, and health and function, including medical rehabilitation research.

2. This approach is to be commended as it recognizes the critical interplay between medical rehabilitation research, health and functioning, and the ability to return to school or work where appropriate.

3. A shift in focus at NIDRR away from health and function research is unwise and seriously erodes our nation's ability to solve the important questions that confront people with disabilities in seeking to return to functional and fulfilling lives after the onset of a disabling condition.

4. NIDRR should continue and re-emphasize the importance in its funding priorities of health and function research, including medical rehab research.

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