Crucial First Steps After a Brain Injury

Dealing with brain injury can be frightening and difficult. Survivors and caregivers can be left with many questions and concerns after a brain injury. These tips and suggestions can help answer some of those questions.

Important First Steps:

  1. Get in touch with a local support group. Support groups can be an invaluable resource for information on a wide variety of topics, including treatment facilities and specific programs that might be available in your area. Locate support groups near you.
  2. Keep a daily journal of mental and physical changes. Keep a list of questions for the doctor or others on the treatment team. Keep track of treatments, medications and results.
  3. Establish a support system of family and friends. Organize family and friends to visit, support the family, and help with tasks to prepare for the future.
  4. Contact the case manager or social worker at your hospital. Identify the case manager or social worker who will be working with you. Discuss with the case manager or social workers the progress and potential needs upon discharge. Get help identifying supports and services that might be available after discharge.
  5. Call 2-1-1 or check 2-1-1 Texas for information about community resources and non-emergency health related services. 2-1-1 is a resource for free information and referrals to health and human service and community organizations (public, private, and nonprofit human services providers). Specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with multilingual capabilities, as well as accessible services for people with disabilities.
  6. Apply for Social Security Income/Medicaid immediately. Supplemental Security Income is a program of the Social Security Administration that provides monthly payments to people who are, among other qualifiers, disabled and have limited income and resources. Parents don’t need to be eligible themselves for a disabled child to receive SSI. If eligible for SSI, you or your loved one can usually get Medicaid, health insurance which is tied into the SSI benefits package.
  7. Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance/Medicare immediately. Social Security Disability Insurance provides monthly payments for workers and eligible members of their family if an illness or injury is expected to keep the worker from working for a year or longer. Medicare is health insurance tied into SSDI. A new beneficiary must wait 24 months after SSDI benefits begin to receive Medicare coverage, in addition to the five-month waiting period after the disability onset. Enrollment in the Medicare program is automatic for SSDI recipients — no application process is necessary. No monthly premium is charged for hospital insurance to people receiving SSDI benefits.
  8. Talk with your hospital case manager or social worker about services your loved one might be eligible to receive. Apply immediately — some programs allow immediate access while others might have a waiting list. Contact each agency directly for information on any additional programs that might be available.
    • CHIP and Children’s Medicaid: CHIP and Children’s Medicaid cover services needed to keep kids healthy. If a child getting Medicaid has a disability or long-lasting illness, the child might be eligible for special services.
    • Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services: This program assists eligible people who have a traumatic brain injury, traumatic spinal cord injury, or both. CRS helps identify rehabilitation goals and services and can assist in payment for inpatient, outpatient and post-acute rehabilitation services.
    • Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation: This program provides a variety of services designed to help prepare, find and keep employment.
    • Long-term Care: There are options for people who have a medical issue or disability and need help. These include getting services in the home, a daytime program in your community, or a residential setting such as a nursing home or assisted living facility.
    • Independent Living Services: This program helps people with disabilities achieve greater independence in the home and community.
    • Early Childhood Intervention: This program supports families with children from birth to age 3 with development delays, disabilities or certain medical diagnoses that might impact development.
    • Children with Special Health Care Needs: This program helps youth 20 and younger who have special health care needs and people with cystic fibrosis of any age improve their health, well-being, and quality of life.
    • Crime Victims Compensation: This program helps crime victims and their immediate families with the financial costs of crime. CVC covers crime-related costs such as counseling, medical treatment, funerals, and loss of income not paid by other sources.
  9. Contact your loved one’s school immediately. If your loved one is enrolled in school, contact the school principal to arrange for the student’s return to school or for services while not in school. If the student is enrolled in college or technical school, contact the school’s disability office.
  10. Explore guardianship. If your loved one is nearing or over the age of 16, and if there are potential problems with the person’s ability to consent to treatment, consider consulting with an attorney about the types of guardianship available to help in securing necessary treatment without delay.
  11. If you are a veteran, consult the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center or contact your local Veterans Affairs location for information and referral.

To learn more, contact the Office of Acquired Brain Injury at 512-706-7191 or by email.