Representative G.K. Butterfield, Jr., a democratic congressman from North Carolina, has introduced the National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury (PABI) Act of 2009 on Capitol Hill.
Representative G.K. Butterfield, Jr., a democratic congressman from North Carolina, has introduced the National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury (PABI) Act of 2009 on Capitol Hill. The act is a concurrent resolution that recognizes the facts of the National PABI Plan and recommends its full implementation. The mission of the National PABI Plan is to create a seamless, standardized, evidence-based system of care universally accessible for all children and young adults, and their families, regardless of where they live in the nation.
The plan was developed in 2008 under the auspices of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation (SJBF), which assembled the nation’s leaders in PABI who co-authored the document. The PABI Plan is the first and only national plan written by the leading experts in the country to address the entire continuum of care for children and young adults with brain injuries.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization, brain injury is the number one cause of death and disability for children and young adults through 25 years of age in the United States. The grant submission to fund the National PABI Plan was for $930 million over a period of two years. About $14.6 million would be allocated for the state of Tennessee over a two-year period.
“If the National PABI Plan is funded, it could translate into approximately 100 new jobs in cities across Tennessee,” said Kristin King, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology (ASP) at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Allied Health Sciences. In June, SJBF announced the selection of the ASP Department in Knoxville as Tennessee’s State Lead Center for PABI. The SJBF’s 52 State Lead Centers — one in every state plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico — will work together and with other institutions in their states to implement the PABI plan nationwide. Dr. King also serves as program director for the Tennessee State Lead Center for PABI.
The SJBF was started by Patrick Donohue, father of Sarah Jane Donohue, who was violently shaken by her baby nurse when she was just 5 days old, sustaining a massive brain injury. Donohue launched the SJBF in October 2007 due to the lack of available evidence-based data on PABI. Sarah Jane is 4 years old now and cannot walk, talk, crawl, chew solid food or even sit up on her own. The first step in developing a Pediatric Acquired/Traumatic Brain Injury (PA/TBI) model system is to create a structure that provides complete national coverage with the ability to standardize the system of care while still providing the flexibility for each state to have its own pathway to universal accessibility.
“The Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan will help millions of children and young adults and their families, as well as save billions of dollars of taxpayer money,” Congressman Butterfield stated. “In addition, since most adolescent brains do not mature until age 25, many of the military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with Traumatic Brain Injury are actually considered PTBI.”
“There are over three million new cases each year in the United States alone, making PABI a national health epidemic,” stated Donohue. “The fact that so many of these injuries go unreported and undiagnosed makes the epidemic that much worse since the public has a lack of awareness and understanding of brain injury.”
Dr. King, a member of the National Advisory Board of the SJBF, indicated that as Tennessee’s State Lead Center for PABI, the ASP Department will provide education and research support for the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury category of care for a seven state area: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, plus the territory of Puerto Rico. Along with this regional designation, the Tennessee State Lead Center will be responsible for developing a statewide master plan to address several categories of care including prevention, acute care to discharge, rural accessibility, telemedicine, and re-integration and transition to home, school and work. Additionally, the Tennessee PABI Centers will provide case management for PA/TBI families.
“For the state of Tennessee, the implementation of the National PABI Plan would mean that several PABI centers, in addition to the one in Knoxville, would be established,” Dr. King noted, “potentially in the cities of Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga and Jackson.”
She explained, “If the funding comes through, we plan to expand our current clinical and research services, while developing a seamless system of patient care throughout the state. After funding is in place, we hope to staff the centers and collaborate with the resources and services already available in the state of Tennessee.”
PABI consists of TBIs from causes such as motor vehicle accidents, blast injuries from war, falls, sports concussions, assaults/child abuse, gunshot wounds, being struck by an object, or non-motor vehicle bicycle accidents. Non-traumatic causes of PABI include strokes, brain tumors, meningitis, insufficient oxygen, poisoning, ischemia and substance abuse.
For more information on the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation or to read the entire 104-page National PABI Plan, visit www.TheBrainProject.org, call (212) 201-0599 or e-mail Jennipher@TheBrainProject.org.
“PABI Act of 2009” — Members of Congress who are Original Co-Sponsors
G. K. Butterfield
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin