DEBRA BRAUNLING-McMORROW, PhD, has been working for persons with brain injuries for more than 25 years. She consulted on the content of this website. Debra is Vice President of ABI Service Diversification for The MENTOR Network, a national leader in brain injury neurorehabilitation, neurobehavioral rehabilitation, and long-term community supports. In this role, she leads the development of new brain injury programs across the Network. She serves on the board of the North American Brain Injury Society (NAIBIS) and is the recipient of the 2007 NABIS Clinical Service Award.
Debra is an active member of the Federal Legislative Action Committee for the Brain Injury Association of America and is a Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities surveyor. She is a past chair of the American Academy for the Certification of Brain Injury Specialists and has served on the Brain Injury Association of America’s board of executive directors as the vice-chair for Program Outcomes. In addition, Debra has served on several national committees and editorial boards and on a number of peer review panels, including for the U.S. Department of Education National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and the Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration. She has published in numerous journals and books and has presented extensively in the field of brain injury rehabilitation.
Tell us why you became a brain injury advocate.
When I started to work with persons with brain injury and their families about 26 years ago, I was amazed how little was known about brain injury, and even fewer resources were available. I am also continually struck and humbled by the level of care families provide and the real-life outcomes of persons with brain injury, including bankruptcy, change of life goals, etc. I am also continually challenged by the disparity of services for persons with brain injury in comparison with other persons with disability. I perceive it as my obligation to be a voice for those I serve. Because of my position, I have opportunities to be a voice and an advocate.
What is the best piece of advice you have for someone who is advocating for a family member with brain injury?
Never give up. I can’t count the number of times an individual has been able to access services because of a persistent parent or spouse. I have often said that as a provider, the families that are the most challenging for us to work with are also the ones I would want in my corner if I had a brain injury. I would also caution families to be persistent and challenging without alienating the provider.
What is your favorite resource for families?
I have most relied upon the Brain Injury Association of America, the state BIA websites and materials, and Lash and Associates’ many periodicals directed at families.