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Butterfield introduces Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Act along with over 30 co-sponsors

Published on Wednesday, October 14, 2009

By: Jen Hospodor

Congressman G.K. Butterfield (NC-1st) introduced "The PABI Act of 2009" today, along with over 30 original co-sponsors. PABI is the number one cause of death and disability for children and young adults up to age 25 in the United States.

"The PABI Act of 2009" is a concurrent resolution recognizing that fact and endorsing the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation's (SJBF) National PABI Plan which creates a seamless, standardized, evidence-based system of care, universally accessible for children and young adults regardless of where they live in the nation. 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.

Congressman Butterfield stated, "The full implementation of the National 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."

PABI consists of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) with 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, as well as non-traumatic causes including strokes, brain tumors, meningitis, insufficient oxygen, poisoning, ischemia and substance abuse.

Butterfield added, "In addition, since most adolescent brains do not mature until age 25, many of the military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with TBI 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 Patrick Donohue, Founder of the SJBF and father to 4-year-old Sarah Jane Donohue.

Sarah Jane was violently shaken by her baby nurse when she was five days old, causing a severe brain injury and thrusting Donohue into the tumultuous world of pediatric brain injury. Donohue launched the SJBF in October 2007 due to the lack of available evidence-based data on PABI.

He continued, "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."

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), children are 20 times more likely to die from PTBI than from asthma and 38 times more likely to die than from cystic fibrosis. The WHO also reported in 2008 there were twice as many children who received a brain injury than those who received stitches.

Donohue added, "Brain injury in children also has a much higher incidence rate than autism - there have only been 560,000 total diagnosed cases of autism, compared to the millions of new brain injuries each year."

"I am very excited about the introduction and implementation of The PABI Act of 2009. This will lead to improved diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and support for children and young adults affected by Traumatic Brain Injuries," said Dr. Shannon Smith, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson, Mississippi.

Smith is on the National Advisory Board of the SJBF and her institution will serve as the SJBF's Regional State Lead Center for rural and telehealth.

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. Each State Lead Center will be responsible for developing a statewide master plan for their state to address all seven categories of care, case management for PA/TBI families and facilitating efforts in their designated Regional Category of Care.