The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will be making it possible for veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) to receive additional disability payments for 5 conditions that have been connected with brain trauma.
The new regulation will go into effect January 16, 2014, and will provide a way for veterans with Parkinsonism, seizures, certain dementia, depression, or hormone deficiency diseases to receive the additional payments if the conditions appeared after moderate-to-severe TBI. In a press release announcing the decision, the VA pointed to a National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine study that supported a strong link between the TBI and the 5 conditions.
According to an article in Stars and Stripes, VA does not characterize the change as a new entitlement, but as a more direct path to payment. The current system allows for the additional benefits, but only after veterans submit medical documentation verifying a link between their TBI and the second condition. The new system will not require the documentation, but will base benefit eligibility on the severity of the TBI and the length of time between the brain injury and the onset of the second condition.
Nearly 300,000 veterans have been found to have brain injuries since 2000, according to the Department of Defense.
APTA has been a strong advocate for the important role physical therapy can play in treatment and management of TBI. Access more resources at the association's TBI webpage.
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