In 1983, when medical technology improved and people began surviving traumatic brain injuries in much greater numbers, head injury awareness was still new to public policy discussions. A group of concerned family members and volunteers decided to create the first head injury organization in Tennessee; thus the East Tennessee Interest Group on Traumatic Brain Injury, Inc. was born. Personifying the true volunteer spirit of Tennessee, the new organization was led by volunteers whose focus was to increase awareness of head injury issues. In 1988, the name became the Tennessee Head Injury Association (THIA), changing again in 1995 to the Brain Injury Association of Tennessee (BIAT).
In 1993 a part-time staff person was hired and the organization's primary focus became the improvement in the quality of life for brain injury survivors and their families. In addition, BIAT rallied their support group members from across the state and petitioned the Tennessee General Assembly to establish a brain injury program within state government.
Currently, BIAT collaborates in the oversight of a network of statewide support groups. A conference is held each year in Nashville, with participants attending from all three of Tennessee's major geographic regions. With the support of the Developmental Disabilities Council, BIAT started the "TBI Families Share" peer mentoring program. Training is available for families across the state. Various hospitals and rehabilitation facilities include information about the peer mentoring program in their orientation packets.