The Rehabilitation and Independent Living Special Interest Group (R.a.I.L.), established in 1981, continues to support and promote the acceptance of Behavior Analysis as an integral discipline in rehabilitation, neurorehabilitation, and related areas, especially for those individuals who have experienced a brain and neurological injury. Patients with acquired brain injuries or other neurological disabilities often require behavior analysts to develop treatment programs in settings such as hospitals, free-standing clinics, and private rehabilitation facilities with multidisciplinary teams. These patients/individuals may also be dealing with complex, related medical conditions, intense psychosocial challenges, and significant disruption to their lives.
The Rehabilitation and Independent Living SIG has been a small group of dedicated and engaged rehabilitation treatment professionals, including BCBAs, who meet and communicate innovative ideas, gather support to expand the field, and compare program and treatment challenges. Since the pandemic, it has remained difficult to connect with group members considering the current healthcare environment. Over the last ten years, the R.a.I.L. SIG has hosted participants from multiple states and from as far away as India, Canada, and Ireland. The primary function and event for the R.a.I.L SIG continues to be the group meeting at the annual ABAI conference. Active and engaged discussions have resulted in plans for future development and growth. The neurologically impaired population was impacted by the effects of COVID-19 and their mental health issues were compounded by reduced ability to receive the vital rehabilitation treatment they require. Health care professionals have also continued to navigate the challenges of cultural, political, environmental, and mental health issues that face our communities.
At last year’s annual conference meeting, the group was excited to discuss collaboration with the neuroscience SIG. This type of connection would allow for both groups to support the concepts behind the relationship of neurology, behavior, and ABA service vital voice in this arena. Another challenge facing the R.a.I.L. SIG was recognition of the core population represented by the group, neurologically impaired individuals. The name of the SIG may not convey the message well however it is steeped in history within the organization. More discussion to follow.
The SIG continues to support expanding the understanding of brain injury and the need for behavior services. R.a.I.L. SIG members previously helped develop, with the BACB, a long-term action plan for growing the field of behavior analysis in acquired brain injury. Recently, an R.a.I.L. SIG member co-authored an article published in The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation regarding behavior interventions in brain injury rehabilitation. There was a consensus that more research and contributions are needed from professionals in the space to expand the knowledge base in this area. This further points to the great need for practical training and supervision of students including internship opportunities and partnerships between current treatment programs and BCBA-verified practicum programs. Collaboration amongst treating BCBAs and other professionals is vital to successfully integrating sound practices into rehabilitation settings. Finally, guidelines for behavior treatment in brain injury rehabilitation need to be formulated, research on interventions with brain-injured patients has been limited and has lacked some of the rigor needed to provide valued results.
The R.A.I.L. SIG has continued to welcome members from such diverse backgrounds as physicians and brain injury professionals to students and concerned family members. The power of that diversity is evident in lively discussions, informative exchanges of information, and long-standing relationships that provide much-needed support. Members are encouraged to share articles, program ideas, and professional experiences. Members of the R.A.I.L. SIG must be a part of the solution. The growth of R.A.I.L. SIG has come from current members networking with their peers and having the courage to step up to the significant challenges this treatment population presents.
Visit the SIG Facebook page to check it out and join/like, the URL is – http://www.facebook.com/pages/ABA-Rehab-Special-Interest-Group/118243448217580.