Center Enlisted in Fight Against Child Brain Injuries
Researchers and Physicians Aid Group’s Push for Nationwide System of Care
June 25, 2009
UT Dallas researchers and clinicians are joining a nationwide effort to address the leading cause of death and disability for children and young adults in the U.S. — acquired brain injury.
The foundation, named for an infant whose caretaker shook her so violently that she suffered severe brain damage, has created a nationwide plan for an integrated system of care for children suffering from traumatic brain injury. This plan calls for 52 lead centers of excellence that will work together and with other institutions in their states to address pediatric brain injury.
The 52 centers – one in every state plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – will be responsible for services that provide prevention, education, treatment, rehabilitation and research. They will also each develop a statewide master plan for their states to address care and case management for families.
These institutions consist of many top-rated children’s hospitals, research universities and health advocacy organizations staffed by the best pediatric neurologists and rehabilitation experts in the country.
Pediatric acquired brain injury is caused by traumatic events such as motor-vehicle and sports-related accidents, blast injuries from war, assaults, child abuse and falls. The causes can also be non-traumatic, including strokes, brain tumors, pediatric AIDS, meningitis, infection and substance abuse.
“A brain injury in childhood is a life-long condition, rather than a single event, as it is currently treated,” said Dr. Sandra Chapman, chief director of the Center for BrainHealth. “An earlier injury can exacerbate later cognitive development years after the injury, yet present health care fails to monitor or treat these children to restore cognitive and brain function at later stages of development.”
The national PABI plan and network of lead centers of excellence were announced at a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Sarah Jane's fourth birthday, June 5.
Sarah’s father, Patrick Donohue, who organized the announcement as a birthday present to his daughter, said, “This level of national collaboration has never before been seen in medical history, where you have the best research universities and children’s hospitals all across the country working together for a common purpose to help children.”