Getting Help If You Suspect a Traumatic Brain Injury

In getting help for a recent or long-ago injury, the first step is to confirm that the troubling problems and symptoms are due to the TBI and not to another cause. This can be done by contacting a professional who specializes in traumatic brain injury. This usually will be a physician or a psychologist. However, most physicians and psychologists are not TBI experts. (Most know little about TBI, because in medical or graduate school they did not learn enough about brain injury to be considered specialists.) Finding a specialist in TBI is important. If you have a family doctor that you trust, asking him or her for a referral to a brain injury specialist might be the first step. If your insurance company requires a referral, this will be a necessary step.

Another path is also possible for locating "TBI experts" - by contacting your state chapter of the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA). The state representative of BIAA will have a list of TBI specialists who might be helpful to you. To locate your state association, you can either go to www.biausa.org or call the national information hotline at 1-800-444-6443.

Before visiting a specialist, it will be useful to (1) write down the dates on which the injury (or injuries) occurred - for example, the date (month and year) of the car crash that you think may have cause a brain injury; and (2) prepare a list of the symptoms and behavioral changes you've noticed since the suspected brain injury occurred.

Also, it will be helpful to take a family member or friend along on appointments with TBI specialists. Having another interested person with you helps in processing and understanding the information provided. When the condition is TBI, it is even more important for an advocate to be present during appointments, since the injury itself can sometimes prevent the person with the injury from processing the information correctly and then remembering it for use after the visit is over.