Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by head accidents that disrupts brain functionality. Approximately 16, 000 people suffer from TBI in New Jersey annually. About 90% of the people suffering from TBI die or undergo hospitalization every year. Persons suffering from TBI face several challenges problems such as lack of proper healthcare and financial constraints. Besides, they experience cognitive impairment that bars them from performing normal activities like their counterparts. This may lead to discriminatory treatment by family members and other individuals who interact with the victims in various environments. The government of New Jersey has concerted efforts aimed at creating awareness of brain injury. This paper analyzes the initiatives and their significance.
Traumatic Brain Injury in New Jersey
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by head accidents that disrupts brain functionality. A reportby Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey BIANJ, (2014) found that approximately 16, 000 people suffer from TBI in New Jersey annually. Data from the study show that 90% of the people suffering from TBI die or undergo hospitalization every year. Most TBI cases are fatal. Treatment of the cases occurs in different settings such as emergency, inpatient, or outpatient depending on the severity of the damage to the brain. TBIs can be mild or severe and can cause physical disability and cognitive impairment. Besides, TBI can lead to a change in behavior or alteration in emotional functionality. Both mild and severe TBI have significant effects. However, the effects appear sooner in Severe than acute TBI.
Vehicle accidents are the primary cause of traumatic brain injuries in New Jersey. Falls and assaults follow closely in the second and third causes of TBI in the state. However, approximately two decades ago, falls caused the highest number of TBI in New Jersey by more than a fifth of the number of TBI caused by vehicle crashes. The high number of individuals suffering from TBI coupled with the damage of TBI on the individuals and the society touched both the government and non-governmental organizations provide avenues for supporting children and adults suffering from TBI. The current paper will focus on TBIs in New Jersey and highlight the efforts taken to contain TBIs in the state. Besides, the paper will evaluate the pros and cons of the efforts. The paper seeks to answer the question, “how important are the injury screening and education program in DCF?”
A survey conducted by Lin, Ward, Lequerica, Jasey, and Chiaravalloti (2013), shows that age increases the rate of TBI with most individuals aged above 65 years experiencing a high risk of accidents such as falls or slip. However, individuals aged 35 years and below experiences the highest number of TBIs in New Jersey regardless of gender or race. Lin et al. (2013) state that TBI causes post-traumatic problems to the victims. The issues include depression, anxiety, verbal and physical outburst, intolerance, impulsive behavior, visual blackouts, and emotional stress. Even after successful diagnosis and treatment of TBIs, people complain of emotional instability, lack of judgment, mood swings, and the inability to express their emotion. The problem is even severe among children. People who had a brain injury in their childhood develop cognitive issues later in their lives. This disrupts their social and economic lifestyles. Lin et al. (2013), found that two-thirds of individuals suffering from TBI were employed before their injuries either full time or part-time. However, they become jobless after the ordeal because of either physical or emotional disability. Most of the victims are frustrated by their condition because they could not accomplish their chores like their normal counterparts.
Chiou,Chiaravalloti, Wylie, DeLuca,and Genova (2016) argues that TBI patients in New Jersey do not receive proper healthcare due to financial constraints. According to them, some individuals lack medical insurance. Besides, the insurance companies deny coverage of such treatments for the ones with insurance cover. For instance, most health insurances do not cover communication and social skills therapy. Moreover, some of the hospitals they attend do not accept Medicaid. Chiou et al. (2016) state that the government came up with a solution to the healthcare funding problem for the individuals suffering from TBI by creating a TBI fund. According to Chiou et al. (2016), one of the goals of the education funds in New Jersey was to create public awareness about TBI through education and outreach programs to prevent brain injury. The Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey (BIANJ) was charged with the responsibility of running the TBI funds program. Kim et al. (2016), argues that BIANJ has three main objectives to ensure that the fund serves its intended purpose. Firstly, BIANJ aims to promote TBI fund and other resources related to brain injury to create awareness and encourage complete utilization of the resources. The alliance aims to create public awareness on the efforts taken by the government to enable New Jersey residents to understand the impact of brain injury in their lives. Secondly, BIANJ aims to inform individuals who are directly affected by TBI properly. For instance, the author states that BIANJ organizes training sessions on brain injury throughout the year. The training sessions are aimed at educating the survivors on brain injury. BIANJ also reaches out to Professionals and families through the information and referral department. Thirdly, BIANJ raises awareness of TBI to the general public on the causes and prevention strategies of brain injuries.
The State of New Jersey through Assembly no. 485 218th legislature, 2018 session introduced an Act in parliament aimed at establishing brain injury and education program in the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The ACT seeks to protect individual aged between five years and twenty-one years through awareness creation and providing them with the best healthcare. According to the Act, all individuals and institutions dealing with children and young adults suffering from TBI such as educators, law enforcement officials, judges, and healthcare providers need to be trained on how to handle the victims. Besides, they should be educated on diagnosis, early detection, and rehabilitation of TBI for the children and young adults. The act has charged DCF with the responsibility of designing a proper screening tool in conjunction with the New Jersey Traumatic Brain Injury AdvisoryCouncil for appropriate evaluation and treatment of TBI in the individuals aged between five and twenty-one years. According to (), the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey (BIANJ) helps most families to choose the best brain injury programs. The authors argue that there is a Medicaid waiver for individuals who are suffering from TBI and are above the age of 21 years.
An article by Kitchenman (2014), in NJ Spotlight, argues that youth in jail suffer from TBI up to ten times more than the free population. According to the author, the proposed bill (A-3453) will provide professionals with an opportunity to receive basic training on how to prevent, identify, and intervene in TBI cases for the children and young adults. However, the author is concerned that the bill may not be signed into law by the governor due to the financial impact it may have on New Jersey State Government. According to the author, the state DCF approximated a $10 million expenditure annually when the bill becomes a law.
Evaluation, Discussion, and Conclusion
Brain injury is common in children and young adults in New Jersey even though the risk increases with age. Individuals are suffering from TBI experience several problems such as lack of proper healthcare and financial constraints. Besides, they experience cognitive impairment that bars them from performing normal activities like their counterparts. This may lead to discriminatory treatment by family membersand other individuals who interact with the victims in various environments. The bodies formed by New Jersey State government such as BIANJ to create awareness on brain injury play a critical role in protecting the victims. For instance, when professionals such as teachers and law enforcement officers are aware of the causes and significance of brain injury, they are likely to avoid engaging in activities that may cause TBI. Besides, they are trained in the best ways of diagnosing TBI and referring the patients to the best rehabilitation programs. Moreover, the programs educate the families on the best ways to support children and youths suffering from TBI. The TBI fund and Medic aid waiver enable TBI patients to access affordable healthcare. The social and economic support system is essential for the healing process of individuals suffering from TBI. Citizens of New Jersey are optimistic that the efforts on education and outreach programs to create awareness and support on brain injuries will bare more fruits when the bill A-3453 passes into law. The bill requires DCF to have outreach and educational programs that will supplement efforts by BIANJ in creating an accommodating environment for persons with brain injury.
In summary, efforts by the State of New Jersey to create awareness of brain injury through awareness creation is commendable. The signing of the bill A-3453 into law is likely to accelerate the efforts even further. This will not only lead to early diagnosis but also timely and efficient rehabilitation of the persons suffering from brain injury. Moreover, the law will prevent the occurrence of brain injuries resulting from ignorance of individuals such as teachers and law enforcement officers. Consequently, the number of brain injuries in New Jersey will reduce tremendously.
Kitchenman, A. (November 10, 2014). The link between Crime and Brain injuries Prompts Push for Legislation. NJ Spotlight. Retrieved Feb 13, 2019, fromhttps://www.njspotlight.com/stories/14/11/09/links-between-crime-and-brain-injuries-prompts-push-for-legislation/
BIANJ (2014). Helping Your Family Member Live Independently. Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey. Retrieved Feb 13, 2019, fromhttps://bianj.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/helpingFMliveindependently.pdf
ASSEMBLY, No. 485, STATE OF NEW JERSEY 218th LEGISLATURET (2018).Brain injury screening and education program in the Department of Children and Families.
Kim, N., Krasner, A., Kosinski, C., Wininger, M., Qadri, M., Kappus, Z.,& Craelius, W. (2016). Trending autoregulatory indices during treatment for traumatic brain injury. Journal of clinical monitoring and computing, 30(6), 821-831.
Chiou, K. S., Chiaravalloti, N. D., Wylie, G. R., DeLuca, J., & Genova, H. M. (2016). Awareness of subjective fatigue after moderate to severe traumatic brain injury. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 31(3), E60-E68.
Lin, E., Ward, I., Lequerica, A., Jasey, N., & Chiaravalloti, N. (2013). Understanding the Level of Concussion Knowledge in High School Sports in New Jersey. PM&R.
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