NEW YORK, NY – The “Top 10 Most Notable Events in Pediatric Brain Injury for 2009” list was announced today by the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, one of the largest national organizations focused on helping children and young adults with brain injuries.
SJBF Founder, Patrick Donohue, stated, “Since brain injury is the number one cause of death and disability for children and young adults in the United States, these are literally the most important events that occurred this year as it relates to our children’s health and well-being.”
2009 started off horribly for actor John Travolta and wife Kelly Preston as their 16-year-old son died on January 2, 2009, while the family was on vacation in the Bahamas. According to People Magazine, Jett had a history of seizures which was later determined to be the cause of his death (http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20249865,00.html).
9. Apple Inc.’s “Baby Shaker” iPhone app approved and then removed from the App Store
As you can see from this Associated Press video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLOCDrmlQwQ), in April the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation and the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome united families across the country, ultimately forcing Apple to pull the disgusting iPhone app they had for sale in their App Store, the notorious “Baby Shaker” app, which encouraged the shaking and killing of crying babies on iPhones (this was originally reported on www.krapps.com).
8. Sarah Jane Brain Foundation goes global
Over Thanksgiving weekend, The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation expanded its National Advisory Board to become an International Advisory Board, drawing in experts from around the world. It also launched the International Mind Brain Health and Education Initiative building upon the movement started at Cambridge, Harvard, OCED in Paris and the Initiative in Neuroscience and Education in Tokyo and catalyzed by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (the first science academy in the world, founded in 1603 by Galileo and others) (http://newsblaze.com/story/20091127074018zzzz.nb/topstory.html)
7. Natasha Richardson’s death saves child’s life
The tragic death of Natasha Richardson in March and the circumstances surrounding the symptoms around her head injury led Connie and Donald McCracken to suspect their 7-year-old daughter, Morgan, may have similar symptoms after being hit in the head by a baseball two days earlier. As you can read from this article, they took their daughter to their local hospital, where doctors immediately put her on a helicopter to Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland (http://www.momlogic.com/2009/03/natasha_richardsons_lesson_sav.php) where an emergency surgery saved her life.
6. October was “60 Minutes” (unofficial) Pediatric Brain Injury Awareness Month
On October 11, 60 Minutes showed an episode focusing on sports concussions (a pediatric acquired brain injury) and the controversy surrounding University of Florida quarterback, Tim Tebow, and the decision not to play after sustaining a “mild” Traumatic Brain Injury – http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5377319n&tag=contentMain;contentBody; Two weeks later, on October 25, 60 Minutes showed an episode highlighting President Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod, and his wife Susan’s struggles dealing with a daughter who suffers from epilepsy (a pediatric acquired brain injury)http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5419899n&tag=contentMain;contentBody.
5. Mark Ylvisaker, Ph.D., dies
On March 23, a legendary expert in the field of PABI passed away. As per his obituary from the Brain Injury Association of America’s website, (http://www.biausa.org/ylvisaker.htm), Dr. Ylvisaker was a pioneer in the field of PABI and was one of the original Advisory Board Members of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation who contributed to the writing of the National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan (PABI Plan). To view the remarkable curriculum vitae of Dr. Ylvisaker click here: https://www.thebrainproject.org/advisoryBoard/Mark_Ylvisaker/CV.pdf.
4. NFL airs first-ever concussion PSA
On December 10 the National Football League launched the first Public Service Announcement addressing concussions, marking an important milestone in the quest to raise awareness of brain injury in sports (http://blogs.nfl.com/2009/12/10/nfl-psa-on-concussions-debuts-tonight). As you can read in one of the New York Times’ Alan Schwarz articles about sports concussions (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/26/sports/football/26concussions.html), Mr. Schwarz chronicles the issues of “mild” Traumatic Brain Injuries. If you would like more information about the largest sub-group of PABI (concussions) just read all of Mr. Schwarz stories in the New York Times over the past year.
3. “PABI Act” introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives
On October 13, United States Representative G.K. Butterfield (NC-1), along with over 40 bi-partisan original co-sponsors, introduced H. Con. Res. 198 – in which Congress endorses the National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan (PABI Plan) as the best plan to prevent, identify and treat all acquired brain injuries from birth until 25 years of age and encourages federal, state and local governments to implement it. The measure currently has almost 90 co-sponsors and is expected to pass the House and Senate in January 2010. A local story about how the PABI Act impacts a family in Hawaii can be read here:http://www.starbulletin.com/editorials/20091023_Tiffany_Vara.html. Here is the link to the “PABI Act”:http://thomas.gov/home/gpoxmlc111/hc198_ih.xml.
2. Zachery Lystedt Law enacted in Washington State
On May 14, Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire signed the “Zachery Lystedt Law” into effect, to date the toughest youth sports concussion law in the country. It requires parents and youth athletes to sign an informed consent acknowledging the risk of head injury prior to practice or competition, and if a youth athlete is suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury they will be removed from play until they receive a written clearance from a licensed health care provider. The law is named after an incredibly brave young teenager who was paralyzed from sustaining a second brain injury on the last winning play of the game after sustaining a concussion earlier in the game. Zach and his parents turned the tragedy into making changes for future youth athletes. For more details about the passage of the Zachery Lystedt Law visit the Washington State Brain Injury Association website which was instrumental in shepherding this landmark legislation for passage: http://www.biawa.org/lystedt.htm. This law has had a profound impact throughout the state of Washington in just several short months and you can view the video production by the University of Washington Harborview Medical Center (the SJBF State Lead Center in Washington) about youth sports concussions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEFQkMo_Oe0
1. First-ever National PABI Plan written and largest-ever national healthcare collaboration for PABI created
During the first week of January, over 70 leading experts on the Advisory Board of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation came to New York City and wrote the first-ever National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan (PABI Plan) which develops a seamless, standardized, evidence-based system of care which is universally accessible for all PABI families regardless of where they live in the United States. The PABI Plan was revealed in the first letter sent to President Barack Obama on his Inauguration Day (https://www.thebrainproject.org/2009-01-20.asp). The first phase of implementing the PABI Plan was announcing the largest healthcare collaboration in United States history with 52 State Lead Centers of Excellence (https://www.thebrainproject.org/2009-06-05.asp)
Honorable mention: New York Times columnist David Brooks gave a Sidney Award to Bethany Vaccaro (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/29/opinion/29brooks.html), whose brother sustained a brain injury due to blast injury at war. The essay Ms. Vaccaro wrote (http://www.theamericanscholar.org/shock-waves) highlights very eloquently the trials and tribulations sustaining a brain injury forces onto the entire family. While we would like to be able to mention them all, there are far too many stories of brave men and women coming home from war with brain injuries to list here.
About the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation: SJBF Founder Patrick Donohue’s four-year-old daughter, Sarah Jane, sustained a Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury (PABI) in 2005 when she was violently shaken by her baby nurse at five days old, causing a severe brain injury. Donohue launched the SJBF in 2007 to further collaboration and research in the field. For more information on the SJBF, visit www.TheBrainProject.org or call (212) 576-1180.