UNM Selected as Brain Research Center

The UNM Department of Neurosurgery has been selected to be one of 52 Sarah Jane Brain Foundation Centers. The department will function as the New Mexico State Lead Center in forming a nation-wide network of institutions seeking to standardize acute care of Pediatric Acquired Brain Injuries (PABIs). The centers mark the creation of the first central resource for research, rehabilitation and development of standardized care for children suffering from PABI. This is the number one cause of death and disability for children and young adults in this country.

The Sarah Jane Brain Project was started in October 2007 by Patrick Donohue, named after his daughter Sarah Jane who was shaken by her nurse when she was just 5 days old, breaking 3 ribs, both collarbones and causing a severe brain injury.

“Many of the issues families and children face are the same whether the brain injury was caused by a car accident, an assault or by a tumor,” said Erich Marchand, M.D. UNM Professor of Neurosusrgery.

T he SJBF Centers will seek to standardize acute care for PABI during field-side assessment, ER triage and stabilization, critical and acute care management in hospital and rehabilitation based on state-of-the-art evidence. This standardized approach will encapsulate all areas of healthcare delivery and healthcare personnel education/training. In addition, the Centers will emphasize the importance of timing rehabilitative interventions appropriately in the care of the child/youth with a brain injury. Ongoing research will be conducted into the best way to care for children with PABI, and as new information emerges it will be disseminated to other sites as rapidly as possible. Each Center will have exceptionally-trained SJB Family Specialists who will operate as “super-caseworkers” for each family.

In January more than 65 of the National Advisory Board Members of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation attended a three-day conference in New York City in order to draft the first National PABI Plan. That plan called for the development of a national system of care for children and young adults with brain injuries. In March, the SJBF held an open application period for institutions interested in applying to be lead centers of excellence. A committee of seven leading experts in the field of pediatric neurology reviewed these applications and selected one institution in all 50 states, plus on in the District of Columbia and one in Puerto Rico, to become the State Lead Center in their state/territory to implement the National PABI Plan.

Sarah Jane will be four years old the week of June 5 and still cannot walk, talk, crawl or even sit up on her own. Like so many other millions of children in the United States, Sarah Jane has a traumatic brain injury, a form of Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury (the number one cause of death and disability for children and young adults in this country.) After Sarah Jane’s injury, Patrick started researching TBI and learned that very little is known about the human brain, let alone the pediatric brain.

Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injuries (PTBIs) are the leading cause of death and disability for children and young adults from birth through 25 years of age in the United States. Over 5,000 deaths occur annually due to PTBI, over 17,000 annually suffer from permanent disability due to PABI, and over 1,000,000 are hospitalized each year due to PABI. In addition, since most brains aren't fully developed until age 25, many of the Military Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries are are actually considered PTBI. Pediatric Acquired Brain Injuries (PABI) include all traumatic causes plus brain injuries caused by brain tumors, strokes, meningitis, insufficient oxygen, poisoning, ischemia and substance abuse.
Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322

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