Center for Independent Living Services for People with Brain Injuries


Centers for independent living provide an effective service system designed to assist people with significant physical disabilities to live in the community. However, this concept and service system can be expanded to include all people with disabilities, including those with cognitive challenges (such as acquired brain injury, mental retardation, psychiatric disability, or aging-related dementia).

Purpose and Anticipated Benefits

Understanding center for independent living services to underrepresented populations of people with disabilities can help develop improved services, which will aid in the transition of people with cognitive disabilities into the community.


Mark Mathews and J. Williams, both of the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas, surveyed centers for independent living.




Findings from a 1988 survey on center service to people with brain injuries were compared with 1995 survey findings on the same topic.


In a 10-year span, centers for independent living showed an increase in the number of services provided to people with brain injuries. In 1988, researchers found that 107 centers served an average of five consumers with brain injuries. In 1995,  researchers found the average increased to 12 after asking 174 centers for independent living.

Centers for independent living continue to report an increase in requests for service by people with brain injuries. In 1988, 60% of the centers for independent living reported an increase in the number of individuals with brain injuries served and in 1995, 48% of the centers reported an increase. Only 6% reported a decrease in requests by persons with brain injuries for services for both 1988 and 1995.

Fewer than 15% of centers for independent living reported any one reason for not serving people with disabilities in 1995. In 1988, 41% of the centers said that the population was served by other agencies, and in 1995 only 15% of the centers cited other agencies as a reason for not serving. Other cited reasons were insufficient fiscal resource (26%, 1988) (15%, 1995); inappropriate services (33%, 1988)(7%, 1995); insufficient human resources (26%, 1988) (8.5%, 1995); lack of referrals (33%, 1988)(7%, 1995); lack of staff training (30%, 1988) (11.5%, 1995); and insufficient diagnostic information (15%, 1988)(5%, 1995).


In both surveys, centers said that they were aware of people with brain injuries in their communities.


Williams, J., & Matthews, M. (1998). Independent living and brain injury: Overview, obstacles, and opportunities. Lawrence, KS: The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Independent Living, University of Kansas.