Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can result from a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury. Nearly 150 Americans die from a TBI-related injury each day (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). Indigenous people throughout North America are at greater risk for TBI and poor TBI-related outcomes based on disparities in health, connections to poverty, violence, and systemic racism (Zeiler & Zeiler, 2017). TBI has long been a concern for American Indians and there continues to be numerous barriers to receiving culturally appropriate, timely, and local short- and long-term treatment and services (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2003; Association of American Indian Physicians, 2015).
The TBI Resource Bundle for American Indians
An AIR research team is working in partnership with the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board (GPTCHB), an Advisory Council of TBI stakeholders, and technical experts in TBI to develop a TBI Resource Bundle for American Indians. These groups will collaborate to translate information from resources that the NIDILRR-funded Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center has developed working with other NIDILRR-funded researchers. These existing products include factsheets and multimedia resources designed to educate consumers about how to improve the lives of people living with a TBI. Topics include, for example, alcohol and TBI, driving, returning to school, and TBI & depression.
With close collaboration from American Indians who would benefit from this kind of information, including tribal health care providers the project will train to be knowledge brokers, AIR will co-create and promote the use and adoption of resource bundle items, all tailored to be culturally appropriate for American Indians across the United States. American Indian stakeholders will be invited to describe their informational needs related to TBI, and preferences for bundle item format. Examples of bundle resources, all of which emphasize the importance of stories and/or images, include “infocomics” (short stories illustrated with pictures, like comic strips, that both inform and entertain); short videos; infographics (presentations of data using visual images rather than only focused on numbers); storybooks for children; and/or songs.
The resource bundle will be free of charge and available at tribal health-oriented organizations. People who visit those places and staff who work there can learn more about TBI and how to promote the best health and function outcomes for people with TBI and give feedback in about the quality of the products. AIR will also work to make these resources widely available in other American Indian settings.
The AIR team will offer webcasts and share written information about this project’s methods with other NIDILRR-funded researchers. The purpose of that outreach is to help other researchers learn how to reach the audiences that would benefit from their NIDILRR findings and products, especially when American Indians could benefit. Additional partners AIR will invite to participate include leaders from hospitals and health organizations serving American Indians, tribal vocational rehabilitation agencies, and American Indian artists to work on the project’s infocomics and illustrations for items in the resource bundle. AIR will also work with its Great Plains knowledge brokers to learn about what kind of impact the resource bundle has on users’ awareness of TBI, and how the knowledge benefits American Indians with TBI and their families.
The project is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (grant number 90DPKT0008). Xinsheng “Cindy” Cai, PhD, a principal researcher at AIR, serves as the principal investigator and project director for this project.