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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: February 23, 2015 10:49 AM
From: Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf and Sen. Andrew E. Dinniman
To: All Senate members
Subject: Brain Injury Awareness Month
We plan to offer a resolution designating March 2015 as “Brain Injury Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania.

Brain injury refers to the death or injury of brain cells and the disruption of neural pathways resulting in changes in the way a person thinks, feels and acts. Acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain secondary to trauma, stroke, post-surgical complications, aneurysm, high fever, infection, near drowning, near suffocation, near electrocution, poisoning, and other conditions which interfere with delivery of blood or oxygen to the brain.

Over 3.3 million Americans sustain an acquired brain injury annually, including stroke. Brain injury due to trauma may be caused by a direct blow to the head or being shaken violently and may be caused by falls, motor vehicle crashes, bicycle accidents, sports and recreation injuries, shaken baby syndrome, gunshot wounds and assaults. The signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury can be subtle and may not appear until days or weeks after the injury or may even be missed. Mild traumatic brain injury is often under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed, with symptoms not always immediately apparent.

Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of disability and death in the United States. The cost of treating, rehabilitating and caring for the victims of traumatic brain injury in the United States is approximately $76.5 billion each year. It is estimated that approximately 60% of the adult offender population in U.S. prisons/jails have had an event that could cause a traumatic brain injury.

The number of emergency department visits for traumatic brain injury from sports and recreation related activities increased significantly from 153,375 to 248,418 over the years of 2001 to 2009. Nationally, children and youth 5 to 19 years of age accounted for approximately 380,000 traumatic brain injury-related emergency room visits.

Over 215,000 Pennsylvanians are living with a long term disability resulting from traumatic brain injury. Nearly 90,000 Pennsylvanians are treated and released from emergency rooms for traumatic brain injury annually. In addition, over 32,000 Pennsylvania children under 21 years of age have a medical history that includes a hospitalization for traumatic brain injury. Brain injury is a signature injury of those military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This Commonwealth has a number of the leading research centers for brain injury, including the Penn Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania, the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute, the Brain Trauma Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, and the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In addition, the state has three organizations specifically devoted to brain injury including the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania, Inc., the Acquired Brain Injury Network of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Coalition, as well as two organizations with a strong focus on brain injury including the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania, and the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association.

The Commonwealth has agencies with a specific focus on brain injury, including the Department of Health Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Board. Also, the state has several government programs that administer specialized brain injury rehabilitation and community support programs, including the Department of Health Head Injury Program and the Office of Long Term Living CommCare Waiver program.

The best approach to the silent epidemic of brain injury is to promote the awareness, prevention and treatment of brain injuries. Brain injury prevention and access to necessary treatment and services can be promoted through community education and a public awareness campaign.

If you are interested in cosponsoring this resolution, please do so by the close of business on Friday, February 27th.

Introduced as SR38