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US Legislation Takes Aim at Childhood Brain Injuries

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   September 6, 2011 22:18

CONCORD — U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby, recently discussed legislation that would benefit children with traumatic brain injuries through a seven-year initiative known as the National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan.

Meehan is a co-sponsor of the PABI Plan as outlined in House Resolution 2600. U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J, introduced the resolution.

Meehan said the legislation is important because the human brain develops until age 25 and traumatic brain injuries can occur as a result of several incidents, such as athletic activity and wartime combat.

“I’m concerned about young athletes who suffer repeated trauma to the head. Innocent contact during a game or practice can lead to a devastating injury,” Meehan said recently at Garnet Valley High School. “Additionally, many returning men and women of the military have suffered brain trauma during combat. By establishing a national treatment standard, we can help better address brain injury — the leading cause of death and disability for young Americans.”

Meehan said the legislation would create a Center of Excellence in each of the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

He said the centers would allow for the collection of records and research on traumatic brain injuries in every state and eventually form a standardized, evidence-based system.

Meehan was joined by Patrick Donohue, whose daughter, Sarah Jane Donohue, was the victim of shaken baby syndrome just five days after she was born in 2005. In October 2007, Patrick Donohue, of New York, founded The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation in an effort to gain awareness about the syndrome and traumatic brain injuries.

In January 2009, the international advisory board of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation developed the PABI Plan.

Donohue said more than 600,000 American youth enter the emergency department every year with a new brain injury. Of that, 80,000 require hospitalization and 11,000 die, he said. Meehan spokeswoman Maureen Keith said no new spending is required for the seven-year plan. It will be supported with discretionary funds set aside for the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition to Meehan, there are about 60 other co-sponsors of House Resolution 2600, including U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-1, of Philadelphia. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Jim McCrossin, athletic trainer for the Philadelphia Flyers, also stressed the need for parents and athletic trainers to pay attention to whether their child or student is acting differently.

He said that might be a sign the child needs medical assistance as a result of a traumatic brain injury.

Dr. Kenneth Marx, an emergency physician at Reading Hospital and a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Corps, said soldiers can suffer from traumatic brain injuries as a result of the force from an improvised explosive device.

Garnet Valley High School Athletic Director Joe DiAntonio said a computerized program was implemented four years ago to test for concussions in students involved in contact sports at the high school.

The program was expanded to include all high school athletes and will be introduced at the middle-school level.