June 4, 2009
• UAB and Children's Hospital to lead state effort in pediatric brain injury
• National network to be announced June 5
• Leading cause of death and disability for children under 15
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and Children's Hospital of Alabama have been named the State of Alabama's Lead Center of Excellence for the National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan (PABI), a national network created by the Sarah Jane Brain Project. UAB and Children's will represent the state in efforts to expand research, develop protocols and build awareness of PABI, the leading cause of death and disability for children under 15 years of age in the United States.
UAB's Division of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine, with the only two board-certified pediatric rehabilitation physicians in the state, will coordinate the efforts of the project. Their clinical practice is housed at Children's Hospital, as is the only acute pediatric inpatient rehabilitation service in Alabama.
The national network features a lead center in each state, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. It is a initiative of the Sarah Jane Brain Project, created by the family of Sarah Jane, a child who developed a brain injury after being shaken by a nurse when only five days old. The national PABI plan and network will be announced at a news conference in Washington on Sarah Jane's birthday, June 5.
"Brain injury is often referred to as an invisible epidemic, unrecognized or under-recognized, thereby markedly increasing the burden of care in all aspects of society," said Drew Davis, M.D., assistant professor of pediatric rehabilitation medicine at UAB and director of the UAB/Children's center. "There is a tremendous need for funding and resources so we can better understand the natural history of brain injury and develop appropriate interventions to help the thousands of children affected by acquired brain injury each year."
Davis said pediatric acquired brain injuries are classified as injuries caused after birth by traumatic injury, stroke, tumor, infections, insufficient oxygen, poisoning and substance abuse. Developmental disabilities caused by genetic conditions or injury during gestation are not considered to be acquired injuries. Traumatic brain injuries from falls, bike crashes, motor vehicle collisions, sports injuries or violence are far and away the leading cause of pediatric acquired brain injuries.
"We need an evidence-based, standardized approach to care for all phases of pediatric brain injury treatment and recovery, which is currently lacking in this country," Davis said. "We must have a better understanding of effective treatments and interventions so we can better coordinate care and services for these patients."
One goal of the PABI plan is to create a seamless network of care across the country for children with a brain injury. The PABI plan also will lobby for increased research funding and enhanced services for families of children with a brain injury.
According to the Sarah Jane Brain Project, pediatric acquired brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability for children under 15 years of age in the United States, causing more than 5,000 deaths per year, more than17,000 permanent disabilities and more than 1,000,000 hospitalizations.
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About Children's Hospital of Alabama
Located in Birmingham, the Children's Hospital of Alabama is one of only about 45 freestanding acute care hospitals of its kind in the nation and the only hospital in Alabama dedicated solely to the care and treatment of children. It is licensed for 275 beds. Children's is a private, not-for-profit hospital governed by a volunteer board of trustees. The hospital recently was recognized for the excellence of its nursing care by achieving Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Children's will celebrate its centennial anniversary in 2011.