52 Top Healthcare Institutions Work Together to Help Kids

June 4, 2009
Kennedy Krieger Institute named State Lead Center for Maryland

(Baltimore, MD) - Kennedy Krieger Institute has been named the State Lead Center for Maryland as part of a national network of healthcare institutions in what is being called the largest collaborative effort in the history of pediatric medicine.

The 51 other institutions in conjunction with Kennedy Krieger will work together to address the number one cause of death and disability for children and young adults in the United States - brain injury.

"The causes of brain injuries are very diverse, including physical trauma, brain tumors, strokes, and infections," said James Christensen, M.D., Director of Rehabilitation at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. "However, the outcome for many of these children and adolescents results in life-long disability, ranging from trouble concentrating in school to a complete loss of the ability to walk and talk."

In January of this year, over 60 of the top pediatric neurologists in the country came together in New York City and drafted the first-ever National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury (PABI) Plan, which called for the development of a national system of collaboration to address the issue.

The Sarah Jane Brain Project held an open application period in March for children's hospitals, research universities, and other healthcare organizations to apply to be the State Lead Centers in their respective states in order to implement the National PABI Plan.

A selection committee of seven well-known brain scientists and rehabilitation experts across the country reviewed the applications and selected one institution in every state, plus one each in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, as the institution most capable of being the State Lead Center for their state.

Kennedy Krieger Institute was selected as the State Lead Center for Maryland, which the Sarah Jane Brain Project's (SJBP) National Advisory Board will announce along with the other 51 State Lead Centers in Washington, D.C. on June 5.

As the State Lead Center, Kennedy Krieger will be responsible for developing the master plan of care for children/young adults with brain injuries in the entire state of Maryland. Established in 1979, the Institute's brain injury program was the first in Maryland to receive accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

"We are so honored to have Kennedy Krieger Institute as the State Lead Center for Maryland and as part of this national network of the best healthcare institutions in the country," stated SJBP founder Patrick Donohue.

He added, "It is shocking to realize that despite brain injury being the leading killer and disabler of our children, nothing has ever before been done to develop a nationally standardized medical or even an educational plan to address it, and there is very little public awareness exists of pediatric brain injury."

Donohue started the SJBP in October 2007 after his daughter Sarah Jane was shaken by her baby nurse, causing a severe brain injury.

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, reintegration/long-term care and adult transition, rural/telehealth, mild TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), and the virtual center.

Kennedy Krieger was further designated as the regional Lead Center for Reintegration and Long-Term Care, responsible for leading all the other states in the Mid-Atlantic in that field.

"Brain injury in children and adolescents is a devastating condition that is underappreciated in this country," said George Jallo, M.D., an Associate Professor of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who assisted in drafting the National PABI Plan. "Although progress has been made to resuscitate these children in the acute care hospital setting, we do not emphasize enough the importance of reintegration into the home, school and community. The long-term care of pediatric brain injury is a critical element for the recovery of these children so that they can lead the most productive and independent lives possible."

The national announcement will be made at a press conference on Capital Hill at 11 a.m. on June 5 in the Rayburn House Office Building, 4th Floor, Room 2345.

About the Kennedy Krieger Institute

Internationally recognized for improving the lives of children and adolescents with disorders and injuries of the brain and spinal cord, the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD serves more than 13,000 individuals each year through inpatient and outpatient clinics, home and community services and school-based programs. Kennedy Krieger provides a wide range of services for children with developmental concerns mild to severe, and is home to a team of investigators who are contributing to the understanding of how disorders develop while pioneering new interventions and earlier diagnosis. For more information on Kennedy Krieger Institute, visit www.kennedykrieger.org.

Media Contact

Elise Welker
443.923.7338
welker@kennedykrieger.org