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Traumatic Brain Injury Program


The Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Program was established by the Tennessee General Assembly to address the needs of those individuals who have sustained a brain injury, as well as their family members and primary caregivers.

Traumatic brain injury, also known as TBI, is defined as an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force resulting in total or partial disability or impairment. TBI frequently results from motor vehicle crashes or from falls when the head abruptly stops moving and the brain smashes into the hard walls of the skull.

Many people with TBI do not “look” injured. Because the injured brain is not visible to the naked eye, problems with memory, planning and organizational abilities, and/or judgment often appear in subtle ways. In some cases, even a minor bump on the head can cause ongoing problems and lead to losing a job or problems with family life.

Depending on what area of the brain is injured, people with brain injuries may suffer from poor short-term memory and difficulty with organization, concentration, and judgment. They may experience headaches, seizures, and decreased muscular strength and coordination.

Traumatic Brain Injury Program staff are available to respond to questions, make referrals, and provide education and training. The initial contact can be the first link in a chain of support for a survivor or family member.

TBI Program Services Information Clearinghouse

The TBI Program is the central office for brain injury information in the state. Numerous materials including articles, books, videos, and pamphlets are available to survivors, family members and professionals. A comprehensive resource directory, The Traumatic Brain Injury Services Directory and Resource Guide is distributed statewide. A toll-free number (1-800-882-0611) is available to give immediate information regarding traumatic brain injury to individuals all across Tennessee.

The Facts

  • In the US, an estimated 1.7 million people sustain a TBI each year.
  • In Tennessee, about 7,500 people a year are admitted to the hospital for traumatic brain injury.
  • Concussion is the most common type of brain injury. A person does not have to lose consciousness to have a concussion.
  • Traumatic brain injury is sometimes also called “closed head injury“, “concussion” or “mild TBI”.
  • Males are twice as likely as females to sustain a TBI.
  • In Tennessee, the three leading causes of TBI are falls, motor vehicle accidents and homicide or violent injuries.
  • Using a seatbelt and wearing a helmet are the best ways to prevent a TBI.

Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Council

The TBI Advisory Council was organized in accordance with the legislation to provide advice and guidance to the TBI program staff. The nine-member Council is appointed by the Governor and includes representatives from the Departments of Education, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services/ Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Human Services. An additional member is a health care professional that provides direct care to persons with TBI. Five members represent the category of TBI survivor, family member or primary care giver. The Council was organized in 1994 and has met quarterly since that time.

The 2018-2019 TBI Advisory Council is comprised of the following members:     

Council member

Category of representation

Pam Bryan

Survivor, Family member, Primary care giver

Amy Boulware

Survivor, Family member, Primary care giver

Avis Easley

Departments of Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities

Alicia Fitts

Survivor, Family member, Primary care giver

Joanna Bivins

Department of Education

Mark Heydt, Chair

Health Care Professional

Joanne Morris

Department of Human Services

Brian Potter

Survivor, Family member, Primary care giver

Michelle Stanton

Survivor, Family member, Primary care giver


For information on Council meetings go to:

Service Coordination

There are currently eight Service Coordinators located in various non-profit agencies across the state providing assistance to survivors and family members. The service coordinator’s role is to work with survivors and their families to assess their current resources and needs. The service coordinator:

  • develops a comprehensive plan of care
  • provides referrals to available resources
  • coordinates services for individual client advocacy
  • bridges gaps in the service delivery system.

The goal of the service coordination project is to improve the quality of life for persons with a brain injury and their family members. The service coordinator will assist with “filling in the gaps.” Services are provided free of charge. 

Brain injury support groups have been established in many locations across the state.

Traumatic Brain Injury Family Support Program

The TBI Family Support program is funded by state dollars and designed to assist individuals with disability due to TBI and their families to remain together in their homes and communities.

The primary purpose of the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Targeted Family Support Program is to support:

  • Families with children with a disability due to a traumatic brain injury, school age and younger;
  • Adults with a disability due to a traumatic brain injury who choose to live with their families; and
  • Adults with a disability due to a traumatic brain injury who are residing in the community in an unsupported setting (not a state or federally funded program).

Services can include but are not limited to: respite care, day care services, home modifications, equipment, supplies, personal assistance, transportation, homemaker services, housing costs, health-related needs, nursing and counseling.

For more information click here for TBI Family Support Flyer.

Click here for TBI Family Support Program Guidelines 2019

Brain Injury State Partnership Grant: Brain Links

In June 2018, the Department of Health Traumatic Brain Injury Program was awarded a three-year Traumatic Brain Injury State Partnership Program grant from the Administration on Community living to create and strengthen a system of services and supports that maximizes the independence, well-being and health of people with TBI across the lifespan.

The Tennessee TBI Program proposed to build on the foundation of services and supports developed through our prior Health Resources and Services Administration grant, entitled Project BRAIN. That grant had the overall goal of improving educational outcomes for children with brain injuries in Tennessee by providing education and training for educators, families and health professionals who support students with TBI.

In addition to enhancing the existing system of services and supports, the objectives of Brain Links will also address person-centered planning and development of a trained TBI workforce. The Brain Links staff is a statewide team of brain injury specialists that can equip professionals with current, research-based training and tools to enhance their ability to serve people with TBI. Grant partnerships include the Tennessee Disability Coalition, Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Tennessee Department of Education.

Traumatic Brain Injury Registry

Hospitals are mandated to provide information to the Department of Health on all individuals with brain injury that are admitted to the hospital overnight. Data starting from the first quarter of 1996 is available to the public in aggregate form at no cost. No personal identifiers are released to the public in any form.

Analysis of the Registry data allows staff to pinpoint where and how injuries are occurring, what age groups are affected, and enables the development of programs to prevent injuries. All Tennessee residents listed in the Registry receive a letter to inform them of the services available through the TBI Program. Each year approximately 8,000 persons in Tennessee are admitted to the hospital with at least one diagnostic code for head injury. 


The TBI Program collaborates with Easter Seals Tennessee to sponsor weekend and weeklong camps for adult and youth survivors of brain injury. These camps focus on providing a unique social and recreational opportunity to persons with brain injury in a beautiful and accessible setting. Camp activities include arts and crafts, swimming, hiking, games and boating. Scholarships are available through the state TBI program. There is a $100 application fee per camp. For more information and to request an application, call Easter Seals at (615) 292-6640 or

 Upcoming Events


Pediatric Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Guidelines, Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

The goal of the CDC Pediatric Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Guideline is to help healthcare providers take action to improve the health of their pediatric patients with mTBI. To do this, the Guidelines consist of 19 clinical recommendations that cover diagnosis, prognosis, and management and treatment. These recommendations are applicable to healthcare providers working in inpatient, emergency, primary and outpatient care settings.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guideline on the Diagnosis and Management of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Among Children” was published September 4, 2018 in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics and is available at no cost at this link:

Key Recommendations from the CDC Pediatric mTBI Guideline:

  1. Do not routinely image patients to diagnose mTBI.
  2. Use validated, age-appropriate symptom scales to diagnose mTBI.
  3. Assess evidence-based risk factors for prolonged recovery.
  4. Provide patients with instructions on return to activity customized to their symptoms.
  5. Counsel patients to return gradually to non-sports activities after no more than 2-3 days of rest.

CDC supplemental materials are available at:



For more information on the Traumatic Brain Injury Program, call 1-800-882-0611.

Ashley Bridgman, Director
Traumatic Brain Injury Program 
Family Health and Wellness, 8th floor, AJT
710 James Robertson Pkwy
Nashville, Tennessee 37243