Senate committee OKs measure regarding care of patients with brain injuries

TRENTON – The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee unanimously approved a bill Monday that would enable people who were displaced from the traumatic brain injury service fund to continue receiving care  if they suffered “acquired brain injuries.”

The bill, S2551, would set up a panel consisting of individuals with knowledge of acquired brain injuries.  It would rename the New Jersey Advisory Council on Traumatic Brain Injury as the New Jersey Advisory Council on Traumatic and Acquired Brain Injury.

It would also establish a fund to provide care to people who suffered ABIs.

Acquired brain injuries are defined as non-degenerative brain injuries caused by “non-traumatic injuries such as strokes, other vascular conditions, tumors, infectious diseases, the inhalation or ingestion of toxic products, substance abuse, hypoxia, anoxia due to trauma, or metabolic disorders.”

Traumatic brain injuries are the results of such things as car accidents, officials said.  

The amount of services a person receives who suffered an ABI will be $7,500 a year, which could be used for various medical services and equipment.

The fund will receive its funding from unspent funds from the New Jersey Brain Injury Research Fund, according to the bill.

Regulations were changed by the state in May 2010, when it started differentiating between people who suffered traumatic brain injury and acquired brain injury, a move that made several people who had been receiving services ineligible.

Some 1,320 people were eliminated from the program, advocates said.

Tom Brady of the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey  told the committee he supports the bill.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), of Teaneck, who chairs the committee, said the bill would serve as “an appropriate midway point to help people with immediate problems.”

The bill will now go the full state Senate.

  Senate committee OKs measure regarding care of patients with brain injuries