Sarah Jane lauds NFL

NEW YORK, NY – In response to the National Football League’s (NFL) December 10, 2009 launch of the first Public Service Announcement (PSA) directly addressing the issue of concussions in sports, the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation (SJBF) issued a public statement praising the league for its efforts.

Patrick Donohue, Founder of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, stated, “We want to thank the NFL for their efforts to recognize this condition and shed light on the importance of preventing brain injuries among youth athletes. As we know concussions do not occur only in football, it is only a matter of time before other national sports leagues follow suit.”

Donohue’s 4-year-old daughter, Sarah Jane, sustained a severe brain injury when she was only 5 days old after she was violently shaken by her baby nurse. He started the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation in 2007.

Dr. Gerard Gioia, the SJBF’s National Lead Center Director for Mild TBI, noted, “This is a very positive step the NFL has taken in showing leadership to address a very serious issue and serving as a role model for coaches, parents and young athletes.” Gioia is the Chief of the Division of Pediatric Neuropsychology and the Director of the Safe Concussion Outcome, Recovery & Education (SCORE) Program at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Mark Proctor, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, stated, “As we know, prevention is the only cure for a brain injury so this is a wonderful message to deliver to our children.” Proctor is the Director of the SJBF’s National Lead Center on Prevention of PABI (Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury).

Mike Nelson, a Seattle-based attorney who helped pass the Zackery Lystedt Law in Washington, noted, “As we have seen in Washington State with the implementation of the Zackery Lystedt Law, empowering and educating student athletes, their parents and the entire community before and throughout the game can have a significant impact on reducing the number of these sports-related brain injuries.”

The Zackery Lystedt Law, dubbed the “Shake It Off Law,” was passed in the state of Washington in May of this year. Under that law, any youth showing any signs of a concussion will have to get the approval of a medical professional before being allowed to play again.

Dr. Sherilyn Driscoll, SJBF Regional (Midwest) Director for Mild TBI, noted, “Raising the awareness of the consequences of brain injuries will significantly help the medical community continue to address this national public health crisis.” Driscoll is the Director of Pediatric Rehabilitation in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

Dr. Gillian Hotz remarked, “The NFL message of looking out for fellow teammates is a great approach and will help save lives and reduce additional injuries.” Hotz is the Co-Director of the Pediatric Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program, Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, which is the SJBF’s National Lead Center for Acute PABI.

Gioia, Proctor, Driscoll, Hotz all serve on the International Advisory Board of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, a group made up of over 200 of the top medical, legal and education experts in the world dealing with PABI. In January, these experts drafted the first-ever National PABI Plan, a 104-page document that outlines the entire continuum of care for children and young adults with brain injuries.

Congress is currently considering endorsing the National PABI Plan with H. Con. Res. 198, dubbed “the PABI Act of 2009,” which was introduced by Representative G.K. Butterfield (NC-1) in October. The measure currently has over 80 co-sponsors.

For more information on sports concussions and all forms of Pediatric Acquired Brain Injuries, or call (212) 576-1180.