The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation deserves some serious kudos for this one. It’s been the driving force behind the creation of the National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan (PABI Plan). The PABI Plan, unveiled today in Washington, is being called ‘the largest collaborative effort in the history of medicine’.
The History of PABI and Sarah Jane
Patrick Donohue of New York founded the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation (SJBP) in 2007 after his infant daughter sustained traumatic brain injury (TBI) when she was shaken violently by a nurse. Today she is unable to talk, crawl, or sit up.
The Sarah Jane Brain Project’s mission is ‘to create a model system for children suffering from all Pediatric Acquired Brain Injuries (PABI)’. Its leading efforts to expand research, develop protocols, and build awareness of PABI. To this end, in January 2009, the SJBP brought together more than 60 of the top pediatric neurologists in the country to draft the PABI Plan, the first of its kind.
The PABI Plan calls for the development of a ‘seamless, standardized, evidence-based, national system of care universally accessible for all children/young adults and their families regardless of where they live in the country’.
Fifty-two institutions have been selected through an open application process ‘“ one from each state plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico ‘“ to become the State Lead Centers. Selected by a committee of seven prominent brain scientists and rehabilitation experts, these State Lead Centers will be responsible for developing the master plan of acute care for children and young adults with brain injuries for their respective states.
Why is PABI Important?
According to the SJBP, more than a million children are hospitalized every year in the U.S. because of an acquired brain injury, with 17,000 suffering permanent disability and 5,000 dying from their injuries.
To paint a clearer picture – the World Health Organization reported that twice as many children suffered a brain injury than received stitches in 2008. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated the financial burden of pediatric brain injury to cost more than $12 billion per year.
The SJBP website states that most brains aren’t fully developed until the age of 25, making many of the U.S.’s Iraq and Afghanistan veterans victims of Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injuries (PTBI). PABI includes more than just traumatic brain injury cases; it encompasses injuries caused by everything from brain tumors to substance abuse.
PABI calls for spending $125 million per year on work to ensure that U.S. children with brain injuries are provided needed care – from medical treatment to developmental therapies.
How can you help?
This plan will depend on the amount of federal stimulus funds and other funding it receives, and you can help by making a donation on the SJBP website, www.thebrainproject.org.