Posted on November 24, 2011 · Posted in Brain Injury

There was a big step taken recently that will go a long way toward guaranteeing that brain injury patients get doctors who are thoroughly schooled in that field of medicine. 

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), which oversees the certification of physician specialists in the United States, has created a new subspecialty category: Brain Injury Medicine.

The ABMS Board of Directors and Assembly Representatives approved the subspecialty at their Sept. 20-21 meetings.   

Brain Injury Medicine will be offered by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPMR) and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN), the two organizations who sought creation of the subspecialty.

“As medicine continues to evolve, new subspecialties are created or enhanced to broaden the scope and quality of care provided to patients,” said Kevin B. Weiss, MD, ABMS President and CEO.  “This will allow physicians seeking to practice in these areas to become certified, which will signal to their patients that they are highly qualified to practice in their specialty.”

According to the ABMS, the Brain Injury Medicine subspecialty was developed to provide: core competency standards for physician training in evaluating and providing non-surgical treatment of patients with brain injuries; a high level of care for patients with acquired brain injuries and their families in hospital and post-acute care settings and over the continuum of care to facilitate the process of recovery and improve medical and functional outcomes; and  Brain Injury Medicine administrative skills to assist physicians in activities such as program development, quality assurance, facilities planning and standards development.

“The new subspecialty was created because of the increased need for diagnosis and treatment options for patients with brain injuries and the growing need to monitor, assess and advance new technologies for patients,” said Anthony Tarvestad, JD, ABPMR Executive Director.  “With this new certification, brain injury medicine specialists will lead the way in providing optimal, advanced and cost-effective care for patients with brain injuries.”

Larry Faulkner, MD, ABPN  President and CEO has a similar comment.

“With increasing awareness of the prevalence and lasting effects of brain injury, it is expected that this new specialty will serve to advance the training and document the expertise of physicians who diagnose and treat patients with these potentially debilitating conditions,” Faulkner said in a statement. 

In its announcement about the new Brain Injury Medicine subspecialty, the ABPRM quoted one of its directors, Dr. Karen Kowalske, as saying, “Leaders in BIM (Brain Injury Medicine) have been laying the groundwork for recognition for the last 10 years.”

The move by the ABMS is important, according to the ABPMR. Now Brain Injury Medicine  training programs can become accredited, new programs can be developed and patients can rest assured that doctors who are board certified in Brain Injury Medicine  have completed advanced training in that field.

The first Brain Injury Medicine examination has been set for fall 2014. 

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447