WASHINGTON, DC - As the nation recognizes March as Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month, 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 reintroduction of the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Act, legislation that advances the treatment and prevention of the injury that has been dubbed "the silent epidemic".
"I am proud to have fought for the last 12 years to protect our athletes on the ball field and our brave soldiers in the battlefield from TBI," said Rep. Pascrell. "I hope that as we continue to discuss the impact of TBI in the community, Congress will prioritize the reauthorization of this critically important legislation. In the last few years, we have learned more about the brain than we have over the last century. This knowledge should be applied to protect our fellow Americans."
“Passing the TBI Act will help improve our ability to prevent, detect and treat brain injuries,” Rooney said. “By improving coordination across agencies, including the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs, we can make sure that Americans with brain injuries – particularly our troops and veterans – can access the services they need.”
Reps. Pascrell and Rooney were joined at today's announcement by representatives from Brain Injury Association of America, National Association of State Head Injury Administrators and National Disability Rights Network.
The introduction of today's legislation was made as dozens of organizations from across the country descended on Capitol Hill to participate in the 12th 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.
Congress first passed the TBI Act in 1996 to help individuals with TBI, and their families, gain access to rehabilitation, long-term care, and community and family supports often needed for return to home, work, school and community activities. The law has been reauthorized and amended twice, in 2000 and 2008.
The Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act of 2013
A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is caused by a sudden jolt, blow or penetrating injury to the head that that disrupts the normal function of the brain. The injury often results in problems with thinking, emotions, language, physical mobility and sensory that affects how a person is able to live and work independently. While falls and motor vehicle crashes are the major causes of TBI, injuries associated with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are also contributing to increased numbers of individuals with TBI.
Congress first passed the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Act in 1996 to help individuals with TBI, and their families, gain access to rehabilitation, long-term care, and community and family supports often needed for return to home, work, school and community activities. The law has been reauthorized and amended twice, in 2000 and 2008. The TBI Act currently authorizes:
• Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to assist States in developing and expanding service delivery capacity for individuals with traumatic brain injury and their families,
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct surveillance, prevention and public education programs;
• National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct of basic and applied research in TBI
• HRSA to make grants for the Protection and Advocacy for Traumatic Brain Injury (PATBI) program, which provides critical advocacy services to ensure that people with TBIs live full and independent lives free from abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
Currently, 21 States and Territories are receiving funding from the HRSA Federal TBI Program to develop service infrastructure and to expand service capacity to address unique problems associated with TBI. The CDC has classified TBI as a serious public health problem in the United States, contributing to a substantial number of deaths and cases of permanent disability. CDC’s research and programs work to prevent TBI and help people better recognize, respond, and recover if a TBI occurs. The CDC has produced a number of reports and guidelines relating to veterans with TBI, sports concussions, and response guidelines for educators. PATBI operates advocacy programs in all States, Territories and the District of Columbia.
The reauthorization will elevate the TBI program within Health and Human Services (HHS) by moving the program from Maternal and Child Health’s Children’s Program in acknowledge of the impact of TBI across the age span, including older adults and returning service members/veterans. The Congressional Brain Injury Task Force (CBITF) recommends relocating the program to better coordinate with federal agencies regarding long-term services and supports available to individuals with other disabilities, particularly the long-term services and supports provision of the Affordable Care Act.
Reauthorization of the TBI Act is critical for individuals and families impacted by a TBI. To co-sponsor the TBI Act please contact Kristen Molloy in Congressman Pascrell’s office (202-225-5751) or Drew Shoemaker in Congressman Rooney’s office. (202-225-5792)