Traumatic Brain Injury in Children: Getting the Attention of PA Parents and Congress

Each year, one million Americans receive treatment at a hospital or emergency room for traumatic brain injury (TBI). Approximately 80,000 of those people leave the hospital with some type of disability related to the TBI. Individuals between 15 and 24 are most likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury, but children under five and adults over 75 also are at a heightened risk for TBI.

Sarah Jane Donohue is one of those children. When she was less than a week old, a private nurse whom her parents had hired to help with her care shook Sarah Jane so violently that she was left with broken ribs, a broken collarbone and a traumatic brain injury. She was unable to cry, unable to tell her parents what had happened and what was wrong. Her parents took her to the hospital a week later and doctors discovered her injuries. The nurse confessed and is now in prison. Meanwhile, Sarah Jane is living with the side effects of Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury (PABI).

The PABI Plan: Assistance for Pennsylvania Children With TBI or PABI

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 435,000 children under 15 are diagnosed with TBI each year. The problem with the existing treatment plans for TBI is that they are targeted toward adults suffering from TBI, not children. Often times, this leaves parents and health care providers attempting to reinvent the wheel when working with pediatric TBI patients. Rather than tweaking an existing system to fit the needs of the particular patient, they are starting from zero, building a generalized treatment plan.

The Sarah Jane Brain Project aims to change that for children faced with the lifelong consequences of a brain injury. H.R. 2600, also known as the PABI Plan, aims to create a standardized system for treatment of pediatric head trauma that is accessible across the United States. Brain injury is the #1 cause of death and disability among children nationwide; the PABI Plan is an effort to give each state and its children the knowledge and resources to effectively help children with TBI.

The PABI Plan also encourages prevention as the best possible treatment for any brain injury. Injury in children can be caused by a variety of events, including sickness (meningitis, encephalitis), near-drownings, accidents on playgrounds, car accidents and child abuse. Whatever the cause of the brain injury, for children, the consequences last a lifetime.

Although there is no cure for TBI or PABI, resources for treating those with brain injuries as well as understanding of the injury itself are improving. A Pennsylvania personal injury attorney can help you understand what resources are available to you if your child suffered a head injury because of the negligent or criminal acts of another person.

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