Last week Congressman Jon Runyan (NJ-3) applauded the introduction of HR 2600 - The National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan Act (PABI Plan Act) -- a bipartisan bill of which the Congressman is an original sponsor. The legislation was introduced by Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-7) and it seeks to ensure that care is universally accessible for the millions of families who have a child or young adult suffering from a brain injury. Such injuries are the leading cause of death and disability for younger Americans.
"As a former professional athlete, I have long advocated for better understanding of the consequences of head trauma," said Congressman Runyan. "The damages from brain injury affect more than those who suffer from it directly. The family and caregivers are greatly challenged as well. To realize how best to address the health struggles, there needs to be a coordination of information and services between loved ones and the medical professionals who care for those young persons who are enduring the challenges of head injury. I congratulate my New Jersey colleague, Congressman Lance, for his leadership on this important piece of legislation."
"When a child suffers a brain injury, every American family is confronted with difficult decisions in terms of care, research and support," said Congressman Lance. "Systems of care are different from state to state, random from school district to school district and vary from one doctor's office to another. What is needed is a national clearing house of information and resources for children impacted by brain injuries and their families."
"This Act develops a seamless, standardized, evidence-based system of care that will benefit many American families whose children have sustained brain injuries," said Barbara Geiger-Parker, president and CEO of the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey. "We applaud Congressman Lance for being the lead sponsor and Congressman Runyan for registering as an original co-sponsor of this critically important groundbreaking legislation."
HR 2600 endeavors to learn about each state's specific demographics - from laws, to geography, infrastructure, financing and causes of brain injuries - without duplicating current practices. It would create a national network of 52 State Lead Centers of Excellence with the responsibility of implementing the PABI Plan, helping children suffering from sports-related injuries by providing additional information and resources. The legislation will also cover the entire continuum of care including prevention, treatment in acute medical facilities, reintegration back into the schools, communities and homes and then transitioning into an adult system of greater independent living. Additionally, HR 2600 will focus on individuals with a "mild" traumatic brain injury (commonly known as concussions), which account for more than 80 percent of brain injuries each year, as well as rural communities, which account for 25 percent of the population.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 765,000 American youth aged 25 and younger enter an emergency department every year with a new traumatic brain injury. More than 80,000 are hospitalized and over 11,000 die annually.