Headway of WNY

A support and advocacy agency
for individuals with brain injuries,
disabilities and seniors.

History of Headway of WNY

In 1985, faced with the consequences of life altering brain injuries, a small group of survivors of brain injury and their families in Western New York banded together to form Headway for Brain Injured, Inc., a support and advocacy agency. These people knew too well the enormous confusion and isolation that can follow a brain injury. They had learned the hard way that there were, at that time, few places to turn for information, assistance, therapy and support. There were no local rehab long term services or facilities for people with severe brain injuries. Unfortunately, many survivors were being placed in nursing homes and other institutions, both in New York State (NYS) and in out-of-state facilities, and these places were not appropriate for the care they needed. Not falling into a “typical” medical category, some survivors were left to flounder on their own with no assistance. The founders of Headway wanted to ensure that others in a similar situation would have somewhere local to turn for help.

Early in our history, Headway petitioned the NYS Legislature and the NYS Department of Health for more appropriate local services. Prior to this, survivors of brain injury were often being placed in institutions, many of them out-of-state and far from their families. As a result of our advocacy, Headway of Western New York was one of the agencies instrumental in beginning a special Medicaid program for individuals with brain injury. Through our efforts, and those of other concerned citizens and groups across the state, the NYS Department of Health Traumatic Brain Injury Medicaid Waiver Program (TBI Waiver Program) was created to provide more services to individuals with brain injuries between the ages of 18 to 64.  This waiver provided a range of community support services for survivors, enabling them to live in their community and avoid placement in an institution. Headway has functioned as the local Regional Resource Development Center, helping to coordinate these services in six Western New York counties since the program’s inception in 1995.

Headway’s success with the TBI Medicaid Waiver Program led to an expansion of services. Building on their successful experience with the TBI Medicaid Waiver, the NYS Department of Health created the Nursing Home Transition and Diversion Waiver (NHTD Waiver) to provide assistance in a similar way for people of all types of disabilities, including seniors, who wish to live more independently in the community. Headway now helps coordinate these services and as a result of these exciting changes and challenges, we are now called Headway of Western New York, Inc.

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