WASHINGTON — Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
celebrated the Senate approval late last night of a bill to reauthorize the Traumatic Brain
Injury Act. This legislation expands the Public Health Services Act and provides
individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) assistance in returning to work, finding a
place to live, accessing needed supports and services, and obtaining appropriate
rehabilitation services. The legislation now goes to the House of Representatives.
Approximately 1.5 million people in the United States suffer traumatic brain injuries
every year, with 40,000 of those occurring in Massachusetts and 8,400 in Utah. This
legislation is crucial to providing the care and opportunities needed by the most deserving
groups, our children and soldiers.
Senator Kennedy said, “Brain injuries have become the signature wound of the war in
Iraq. Up to two-thirds of our wounded soldiers may have suffered such injuries. Here at
home, an unacceptably large number of children from birth to age 14 experience
traumatic brain injuries– approximately 475,000 a year – and some of the most frequent
of these injuries are to children under the age of five. Today, we have taken a step toward
ensuring that these citizens and their families will receive the best care we can provide.”
“Victims of falls, auto accidents, assaults, and even many veterans suffer from traumatic
brain injuries,” Hatch said. “We need to help these people, so I appreciate the Senate’s
action on this bill and look forward to seeing it finally enacted. If TBI patients don’t
receive proper care, the financial and emotional costs can become overwhelming – to the
individual, the family, and society.”
Summary of the Traumatic Brain Injury Act Reauthorization
What is TBI?
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that
causes damage to the brain. Common causes include falls and car crashes. Every year,
of the 1.5 million people in the United States who sustain a TBI, 50,000 die, 235,000 are
hospitalized, and approximately 80,000 to 90,000 will become disabled.
Who would this bill primarily help?
Soldiers: This bill will provide assistance to the millions of children and adults in our
nation who are facing an array of problems because of their traumatic brain injury. The
programs authorized under this bill can help the thousands of soldiers wounded in the
war. As of December, 2007 -- 30,327 service members have been wounded in
Iraq; brain injuries are approximately two-thirds of the injuries suffered in the war.
Children: There is an extremely high incidence of Traumatic Brain Injuries among
children between the birth and age 14 – approximately 475,000 a year – and some of the
highest numbers of injuries are among children under the age of five.
What would the bill do?
The Act expands the Public Health Services Act with respect to traumatic brain injury.
Reauthorization of the TBI Act is crucial to continue federal funding for a range of
traumatic brain injury programs. The bill will reauthorize grants that have been assisting
States, Territories, and the District of Columbia in building or enhancing coordinated
systems of community-based services and supports for children and adults with traumatic
brain injuries. It will extend the ability to apply for these grants to American Indian
In addition, when Congress first authorized the Traumatic Brain Injury Act as part of the
Children’s Health Act of 2000 it had the foresight to include funding for the Protection
and Advocacy for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury program. This program has
played a crucial role because individuals with traumatic brain injury have an array of
advocacy needs including assistance with returning to work, finding a place to live,
accessing needed supports and services such as attendant care and assistive technology,
and obtaining appropriate rehabilitation services.
Often these individuals are forced to remain in extremely expensive institutional settings
far longer than necessary because the community-based supports and services they need
are not available. Effective protection and advocacy services for people with traumatic
brain injury can lead both to reduced government expenditures and increased
productivity, independence and community integration. However, the advocate must
possess specialized skills and the work is often time-intensive.
It extends the authorization of such sums as may be necessary for the CDC research,
public education, and state registry programs; NIH research; and HRSA programs
It establishes several new studies, including a study through the CDC and NIH to
determine the incidence and prevalence of traumatic brain injury, identify common
therapeutic interventions, and develop rehabilitation guidelines.
It also establishes a CDC/NIH study in collaboration with the Departments of Defense
and Veterans Affairs to identify the best methods of coordinating prevalence data, in
order to ensure that national research takes into account the incidence of brain injuries
among our nation’s veterans and that current information about diagnostic tools and
treatments are shared.
It establishes a GAO study to determine the extent to which soldiers who have acquired a
brain injury are being reintegrated into their communities, and examines the extent to
which their care is coordinated and appropriate employment, housing, rehabilitation, and
other services are being obtained.
It amends the HRSA demonstration projection program such that American Indian
consortia can apply for funding, that the projects are redefined to improve access to
rehabilitation, and the grants are limited to 3 years.
It requires the Administrator of HRSA and the ADA Commissioner to coordinate data
collection regarding protection and advocacy. It stipulates that, in any year where $6
million is appropriated for the HRSA protection and advocacy services program, 2% is
used for a grant providing for training and technical assistance to protection and
Melissa Wagoner (202) 224-2633