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Pascrell Introduces House Resolution Designating National Brain Injury Month

Washington, DC, March 15, 2005

Congressional Brain Injury Awareness Day Event to be held on Thursday, March 17

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr.  (D-NJ-8th) Co-Chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force announced today that he and fellow co-chair Rep. Todd Russell Platts (R-PA-19) introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to express the need for enhanced public awareness of traumatic brain injury and designate a National Brain Injury Awareness Month.  While the resolution cannot specify a particular month, March is widely recognized as Brain Injury Awareness Month and would continue to be distinguished as such.

The announcement was made at a reception held by the in honor of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, co-chaired by Congressmen Pascrell and Platts, by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), the National Brain Injury Research, Treatment and Training Foundation (NBIRTT) and the National Association Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA). 

 "I am honored to sponsor this significant piece of legislation, yet the real honorees are the families who day in and day out care for and love their family members who have been afflicted and do so without fanfare, without applause," stated Rep. Pascrell.  "They just do it because they love their son or daughter, brother or sister, each day, of every month."

"An estimated 5.3 million Americans are living with disabilities caused by a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)," stated Congressman Platts. "Yet, few people know the prevalence of TBI. Our task force will work on a bi-partisan basis to promote awareness, prevention and research into this vital health issue."

Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability among children and young adults in the United States and at least 1.4 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year, with an estimated societal cost of over $56 billion. Falls, Motor vehicle crashes, sports injuries, and violence (including child abuse) are the major causes.

While more numerous in the civilian community, the military is beginning to see dramatic increases in traumatic brain injury among its members.  In one military study, 62% of soldiers returning from Iraq were found to have sustained a brain injury.
Rep. Pascrell became involved in this issue after hearing from a constituent, whose son had been hit by a car and left with severe traumatic brain damage.

"We need to raise awareness as to the prevalence and effects of brain injury, and we must do all that we can to assist the families impacted," added Rep. Pascrell.  "Traumatic brain injury can strike anyone and leave devastating results, and Congress has an obligation to examine the issue, see what can be done, and contribute.  Traumatic Brain Injury is often referred to as the silent epidemic.  We are introduced this resolution and are hosting activities this week to give it a voice.

The Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Act is the only federal law that specifically addresses the issues faced by the TBI community. It is designed to promote sound public policy in prevention, education, treatment and community-living for people living with a TBI as well as provide funding for basic scientific and practical research. It is due to be reauthorized in 2005.  Unfortunately, it received no funding in the president's FY2006 budget proposal.

"As of now, there is not one penny allocated to this silent epidemic and I encourage my colleagues in Congress to fight for the necessary funding," added Rep. Pascrell.  "The Traumatic Brain Injury Act is the only federal legislation that helps the 5.3 million Americans who live with a long-term disability as a result of a TBI.  This law it must be reauthorized - bottom line.  Not to do so would be painfully inhumane."

To further promote brain injury awareness, on Thursday, March 17, The Congressional Brain Injury Task Force will host "Congressional Brain Injury Awareness Day on Capitol Hill" where brain injury victims, their families, clinical experts and professional groups will address the lasting effects of brain injury, the therapies and rehabilitation programs that exist as well as the impact of brain injury in the military.

The theme of this year's briefings will be "Living with Brain Injury." Special guest will be Amy Davis, Miss Utah who is also a traumatic brain injury survivor and spokesperson for the Brain Injury Association of America.

Congressman Pascrell and former Congressman Jim Greenwood, co-founded the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force in 2001. 

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