1996 Traumatic Brain Injury Law Being Reexamined on Capitol Hill
By Gerri Elder
Suffering a traumatic brain injury can be a life-changing experience, and federal legislators are aiming to better treat this condition which affects 5.3 million Americans via a new bill on Capitol Hill.
U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts recently proposed a traumatic brain injury bill which would allow them to reauthorize a 1996 federal law supporting programs for people with this condition. Specifically, this new traumatic brain injury legislation would allocate more money for these services, fund projects for injured war veterans with TBI and help states develop treatment capacity for brain injuries.
Of further importance, this federal traumatic brain injury legislation would put the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the forefront of determining how common this injury is in the general population. The CDC has previously said that there are 1.4 million reported instances of traumatic brain injury each year in the United States, with most of those accidents occurring from falls or car accidents. The CDC has also said that two percent of the U.S. population requires lifelong care after sustaining a traumatic brain injury.
Both Hatch and Kennedy penned the original traumatic brain injury legislation more than ten years ago. Hatch was quoted as saying in a Utah Daily Herald story that patients need quality care for this devastating injury, and that more needs to be done in order to treat it early on and help them recover.
Hatch also noted the importance for further research and funding for traumatic brain injuries in the context of the Iraq War. He specifically cited an early study of Iraq War casualties which showed that 67 percent of deceased soldiers had suffered some type of brain injury. Many of those brain injuries were caused by high explosives.
While Hatch acknowledged that this new traumatic brain injury legislation does not specifically address the Iraq War, he said that its measures would further help the federal TBI program provide supplemental resources for networks which treat returning soldiers.
Utah State Senators Have Also Addressed Traumatic Brain Injury This Year With Little Avail
Like the efforts of a U.S. Senator from Utah in the nation's Capitol, state legislators have already tried to achieve similar means this year. Traumatic brain injuries affect more than 40,000 people in Utah.
The Daily Herald story reported that state Representative James Gowans and Senator Darin Petersen attempted to secure $500,000 for a Traumatic Brain Injury Fund that would help establish outreach programs for TBI and help train medical professionals in treating this condition. However, this Utah traumatic brain injury legislation has stalled in the state legislature for the second year in row.