Reps. Pascrell, Rooney Announce Introduction of Traumatic Brain Injury Legislation
WASHINGTON, DC - As dozens of organizations from across the country descended on Capitol Hill to participate in the 14th annual Brain Injury Awareness Day, U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Thomas J. Rooney (R-FL), co-chairs of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, today announced the introduction the National Traumatic Brain Injury Research and Treatment Improvement Act of 2015, legislation that would direct the CDC to establish a national system to track the occurrence of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and collect data to assist research, prevention, and treatment development efforts.
"Dealing with the unexpected hardships brought on by a traumatic brain injury takes a tremendous toll on millions of victims and their families each year," said Rep. Pascrell. "We need to ensure the individuals that sustain these devastating injuries have every resource available to them. As much as we have learned about the brain in recent years, there is still a startling gap in available TBI data which limits our understanding of this silent epidemic. Establishing a system to track TBI occurrences would be a boon for brain researchers, help ensure that resources are well-targeted, and improve treatment options."
"With tens of thousands of our nation’s troops and veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury, we have an obligation to make sure they get the treatment they need – and do all we can to prevent future brain injuries from occurring in the first place," said Rep. Rooney. "Our bipartisan bill will continue the progress we’ve made to advance our understanding of brain injuries, promote prevention efforts, and advance treatment options.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 2.5 million TBIs occur each year and 5.3 million Americans live with a lifelong disability as a result of TBI. Despite the pervasiveness of these injuries, there is currently no national surveillance system to track the incidence, prevalence, and circumstances of TBI. The cost to society for medical care and lost wages associated with TBI is $76.3 billion annually.
While the CDC currently assesses the incidence of TBI, these efforts are limited due to a lack of resources. The establishment of a national surveillance system would give the CDC the ability to collect robust, uniform data to help aid TBI research, the development of treatments, and, possibly, a cure.
The National Traumatic Brain Injury Research and Treatment Improvement Act of 2014 would direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate existing monitoring and data collections systems that track the incidence and circumstances of traumatic brain injury, including concussion; and submit a report to Congress outlining these findings. The legislation would also establish a statistically sound, scientifically credible, integrated surveillance system. This system would, to the extent practicable, track the incidence and prevalence of TBI, as well as important demographic information and other information relevant to analysis on traumatic brain injury.
The introduction of today's legislation was made as dozens of organizations from across the country descended on Capitol Hill to participate in the 14th annual Brain Injury Awareness Day. The purpose of the conference is to educate Members of Congress and their staffs on the full range of effects of brain injury, the challenges and recoveries of persons living with brain injury, and the services and supports available to them.
Reps. Pascrell and Rooney also convened a panel entitled “Finding a ‘New Normal’: Post-Injury Supports and Services That Make a Difference.” The panelists focused on post-injury services after a TBI from the civilian, veteran, and services perspectives.
Brain Injury Awareness Day is sponsored by Brain Injury Association of America and National Association of State Head Injury Administrators.