Professionals qualified to diagnose TBI expected to expand

According to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is expected to expand the requirement in the disability compensation process regarding who can diagnose traumatic brain injury (TBI) to include any health care professional with sufficient brain injury training and experience.

According to an article released by EurekAlert.com, only one of four specialties are qualified to diagnose TBI – a neurologist, neurosurgeon, physiatrist, or psychiatrist. However, the Evaluation of the Disability Determination Process for Traumatic Brain Injury in Veterans says that it is the training and experience, not necessarily the medical specialty, that renders a health care provider capable of an accurate diagnosis.

In it’s most basic definition, TBI results from an external force that leads to temporary or permanent impairment of cognitive, physical, or psychosocial function. It is a form of brain injury that can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe. These types of injuries have been an increasing cause of disability in the military since the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan began. According to reports, the military incurred an estimated 384,000 incidents of TBI between 2000 and 2018.

The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) allows veterans with injuries related to their service to seek disability compensation. The amount of compensation is determined in a six-step process that begins with the veteran filing a claim and usually requires an examination by an approved clinician who diagnoses and evaluates the degree of impairment, functional limitation, and disability.

According to the article released by EurekAlert.com, “Because of increased awareness of TBI, more medical specialties now include TBI training within their curriculum and receive continued updates concerning the current state of the science. There are at least 18 brain injury programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to train physicians of many specialties to assist in the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of individuals with brain injury. Looking at the credentials and training necessary for health care specialists to diagnose TBI, the committee that conducted the study recommended that the VA allow health care professionals who have specific TBI training and experience, in addition to the current approved specialists, to make TBI diagnoses. Furthermore, the committee recommended pertinent and ongoing clinical training that is up-to-date with the state of current knowledge regarding TBI.”

To learn more about this important news regarding TBI diagnosis, click here.

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability