Brain Injury in Youth-The Public Health Crisis of Our Time

The incidence of pediatric brain injury is at epidemic levels. Brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability for children, adolescents and young adults in the United States. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 2.6 million people under age 19 sustain a head injury annually. Brain injury results in over 765,000 emergency department visits, 80,000 hospitalizations, and 11,000 deaths of children, youth and young adults each year. Adding to these staggering statistics is the large number of young veterans returning from war with blast-related traumatic brain injuries. With millions of American youth impacted annually, brain injury dwarfs the incidence rates of autism (about 24,000 new cases annually) and HIV/AIDS (about 56,000 new cases annually). Pediatric brain injury has become a major public health crisis.

Initiatives of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation

The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation has undertaken two signature initiatives to address this need and accomplish its mission. Both initiatives have garnered widespread support and political traction.


The first major initiative is to secure $2.9B in federal funding to implement the National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan (the PABI Plan) to develop a seamless, standardized, evidence-based system of care that is universally accessible for the millions of American families who have a child/young adult with a brain injury regardless of where they live in the United States. This is well underway. In 2009, over 75 experts from across the country gathered in New York City to establish PABI Plan (click here to read the 300 page PABI Plan). Since then, an unprecedented level of support for the PABI Plan has galvanized the brain injury community.
Many children’s hospitals, university programs, research clinics and brain injury organizations around the country have committed to playing an active role in operating SJBF State Lead Centers of Excellence (one in each state, and in Puerto Rico and D.C.), forming the largest brain injury collaboration in U.S. history. Examples of SJBF State Lead Centers include Children’s Hospital of Boston/Harvard Medical School in MA, Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital in CT, Mayo Clinic in MN, Kennedy Krieger Institute of Johns Hopkins University in MD, UCLA in CA and Columbia University Medical School in NY.

The PABI Plan also enjoys the support of our country’s most prestigious institutions—including the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, American College of Sports Medicine, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and the National Education Association—with over 40 national organizations writing official letters of support. The PABI Plan has broad based, bi-partisan support from Congress with 145 Members co-sponsoring the $2.9 billion, seven-year federal initiative. Thousands of the country’s leading physicians, neuroscientists, practitioners, advocates and families are actively participating in national, regional and statewide conferences and teleconferences to begin planning the implementation of the PABI Plan.

INITIATIVE TWO: The International Academies of Hope (iHOPE)

The second major initiative of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation is to establish a network of nonprofit, nonpublic schools, called International Academies of Hope (iHOPE), in major U.S. metropolitan areas and abroad. The first of these state-of-the-art, best-in-class schools for children with brain injury — iHOPE-NYC — opened its doors and began enrolling students in September of 2013 in New York City.

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