Colorado State University’s Occupational Therapy Department Receives Brain Injury Grant to Help Families in Colorado

Brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in children and youth in the United States. In Northern Colorado, statistics on brain injury are significant, with more than 100 youth ages 5 to 21 sustaining and surviving injuries annually in Larimer and Weld Counties.

The Center for Community Partnerships – the direct service and outreach arm of the Department of Occupational Therapy in the College of Applied Human Sciences at Colorado State University – has received a grant of $69,400 from HealthONE Alliance to develop the Family to Family Project for families of children with brain injury. The purpose of the project is to partner experienced families who have a child with a brain injury with families who have a child who has recently been injured.

"Currently, no mentoring program for children with traumatic brain injury exists in our community, and we are pleased to be able to partner with HealthONE Alliance to develop the Family to Family Project," said Cathy Schelly, director of the Center for Community Partnerships at Colorado State.  

The families who will be mentoring and supporting other families will receive comprehensive training on brain injury, health, resources, available services, legal information, and support strategies – with this information being added to their wealth of personal experience, knowledge and know-how.

The survival rate of children with brain injury is on the rise due to advances in medical intervention. However, support strategies to help these children re-integrate back into school and to help families as they care for their children are inadequate at best. To complicate matters, children with brain injury many times are misdiagnosed or mislabeled due to misunderstanding of their symptoms, resulting in these young people not receiving the type of support they need to function well in school and at home.

"We are excited to implement a model where families are supporting each other to improve outcomes for their children with brain injury," said Judy Dettmer, coordinator of brain injury programs at the Center for Community Partnerships. "This project is unique in that families and children with brain injury will be integral partners in designing, implementing and evaluating the project. And families are truly the experts in what their children need to be successful in life."

CCP is a community-based organization, partnering with multiple agencies and school districts across the Front Range to provide education, direct services and applied research, with a primary focus being children, youth and adults with significant disabilities. In operation since 1985, CCP has been a leader in Colorado in the areas of services, consultation and education for schools, community agencies, families, children and youth regarding the manifestation of brain injury and necessary supports for survivors of brain injury.

The focus of CCP activities is to promote educational success, community access and to maximize independence for individuals with disabilities. The group works in K-12 schools around early identification of children and youth with acquired brain injury. CCP also helps with the implementation of adaptations and accommodations at school and at home that will promote educational success for these young people.

HealthONE Alliance is a non-profit organization working to improve health care in Colorado. In 2004, HealthONE Alliance philanthropy provided $3.5 million in support of non-profit organizations addressing health care needs in their communities.