United States Representative, Pat Meehan (R-7) of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania 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 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.
The legislation would create a Center of Excellence in each state across the country, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Meehan said the centers would allow for the collection of records and research on traumatic brain injuries in every state and would eventually form a standardized, evidence-based system.
Meehan works in conjunction with 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 founded The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation in an effort to raise awareness of 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 that each year, more than 600,000 children go to the emergency room with a new brain injury. Of that, 80,000 require hospitalization and 11,000 die.
The plan will not cost additional tax-payer dollars, but rather, will be supported with discretionary funds set aside for the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The program was expanded to include all high school athletes and will be introduced at the middle-school level.