MDCH Report Provides Groundbreaking Look At Traumatic Brain Injury in Michigan

Contact: Beth Perrine (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

October 28, 2004

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has released the findings of a five-year project focusing on how to best address the needs of the 200,000 Michigan citizens that are living with a disability due to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

The TBI Project and its findings in the report called, “Addressing Michigan’s Public Service Gaps for Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury,” is the first time that such extensive data investigations have ever been carried out by any state.

Full report [ Executive Summary

“The TBI Project was formed to improve access to this diverse and complex public system of services available to TBI patients,” said Janet Olszewski, MDCH Director. “Since their work began, this group has become the recognized national leaders in linking data regarding the cost and incidence of TBI. The findings of this project are truly groundbreaking, and will serve as a national model.”

A TBI is an injury to the head arising from blunt or penetrating trauma, or from acceleration and deceleration forces, such as from a fall, car crash or being shaken.

There are three categories of TBI- mild, moderate, and severe. Approximately 78 percent of all TBIs are mild; however, problems can occur six months to two years after an incident – especially in children.

The TBI report focused on incidence, the use and cost of healthcare, public services available, assistive technologies, real case studies and pilot studies.

Findings from this report highlight the need for comprehensive and coordinated care to be accessible to TBI patients. The report found that TBI patients and their families often have to navigate through local, state and federal programs to piece together services. Also, the TBI report found that many people who have survived TBI tend to be placed in a nursing home for the rest of their lives, even though the majority are under the age of 45.

“Our son, who is now 40 years old, suffered a TBI in 1998 that required extensive surgery and left him severely disabled,” said Robert and Janet Piccirelli, who participated in the case study portion of the report. “The report from the TBI project provides an invaluable list of recommendations, and we feel very strongly that if the recommendations of this report are implemented, quality of life for our son would greatly improve.”

The TBI project and report is the result of collaboration between several state departments – MDCH, the Michigan Department of Education, and the Family Independence Agency, and the private, non-profit Brain Injury Association of Michigan.

“One of the most important outcomes of the TBI project was the partnership between state agencies and private organizations to focus on how to prevent the vulnerable survivors of TBI and their families from falling through the cracks,” said Michael F. Dabbs, President and CEO of the Brain injury association of Michigan. “This group effort has created a lasting linkage and means of communication that will benefit current and future TBI patients.”

Michigan’s efforts to improve public TBI services has been recognized nationally. The TBI project director, Manfred Tatzmann, has been appointed to the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators, and awarded the Chairperson’s Leadership Award by the Brain Injury of Association of Michigan.

The TBI project also developed educational and training materials for survivors, family members, caregivers and professionals about TBI. These materials were tested in three pilot sights around Michigan – the Upper Peninsula, Southeast and Southwest Michigan.

For more information, a copy of the TBI project report, or any of the training materials please visit