University of Vermont

University Communications

UVM Joins National Collaborative Effort to Address Brain Injury in Kids

Release Date: 06-15-2009

Author: Jennifer Nachbur
Phone: 802/656-7875 Fax: 802-656-3961

The Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families (VCCYF) at the University of Vermont (UVM) College of Medicine was recently named the State Lead Center for Vermont as part of an application for funding to develop a national network of healthcare institutions in what is being called the largest collaborative effort in the history of pediatric medicine. Led by the Sarah Jane Brain Project's (SJBP) National Advisory Board, UVM will join 51 other institutions in addressing the number one cause of death and disability for children and young adults in the U.S. — brain injury.

The SJBP was founded in October 2007 by Patrick Donohue of New York City after his daughter Sarah Jane was shaken by her baby nurse at only five days of age, causing a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

"We are pleased to be able to participate in this very important effort," said James Hudziak, M.D., UVM professor of psychiatry, medicine and pediatrics and director of the VCCYF. "Should the initiative receive funding, I am confident that significant progress towards developing a more cohesive system for treating acquired brain injury will result. Acquired brain injuries in children are common and are associated with a wide array of medical complications. Chief among these are learning problems, emotional and behavioral problems, speech, language, hearing, and motor problems including paralysis. The fact that a national coalition has been formed to attempt to develop an integrated system of care for the children and families who suffer the consequences of TBI is wonderful."

Drafted by more than 60 of the nation's top pediatric neurologists in January 2009, the National PABI Plan is estimated to cost $125 million annually to implement across the country and will address each of the seven categories of care for each aspect of brain injury treatment — prevention, acute care, rehabilitation, adult transition, rural/telehealth, mild TBI, and the virtual center. Participating children's hospitals, research universities and other healthcare organizations were selected by a committee of seven nationally well-known brain scientists and rehabilitation experts who reviewed applications and selected one institution per state, plus one each in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

If funded, the VCCYF will be a State Lead Center and will be responsible for developing the master plan of care for children/young adults with brain injuries in Vermont. The VCCYF was also designated as the Regional Lead Center for mild TBI, responsible for leading all the other states in the New England Region in that field.

"We are deeply interested in investigating the after-effects, time course, treatments and moderators of mild TBI," said Hudziak. "If funded, this project will allow us to investigate a wide variety of pathways to mild TBI such as accidents in cars, on bikes, and while at play. In addition, we are interested in combining the best of modern neuroscience and genetic research in advancing what is known about sports-related — such as hockey, football, soccer, and lacrosse — mild TBI in the New England Region and around the country," Hudziak added.

For more information, visit National PABI Plan.