MONMOUTH – The Eugene division of the Teaching Research Institute, housed at Western Oregon University, has been chosen by the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation (SJBF) as one of its Centers of Excellence, and as the organization’s national center for school reintegration. The SJBF helps youth who have Pediatric Acquired/Traumatic Brain Injury (PA/TBI) and their families. PA/TBI is a primary cause of mortality and morbidity for children and youth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.
The SJBF was created by Patrick Donohue, father of Sarah Jane, who sustained a severe brain injury when she was shaken by her baby nurse at only five-days-old. She suffered three broken ribs, broken collarbones, and a severe brain injury. Today at age 4, she cannot walk, talk, crawl or even sit up on her own. Like other children who each year sustain brain injuries as a result of motor vehicle crashes, falls, and sports injuries, Sarah Jane will experience significant and long-lasting challenges.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PA/TBI is a leading cause of death and disability for children and young adults from birth through 25 years of age in the United States. Over 5,000 deaths occur annually due to PA/TBI, over 17,000 annually suffer from permanent disability, and over 1,000,000 are hospitalized each year. As not all individuals with PA/TBI receive hospital care, those figures are likely underestimates of the true figures. Since brain injury is typically “invisible,” it remains unrecognized, or under-recognized.
There are currently no central resources available for research and rehabilitation for PA/TBI. The SJBF Center of Excellence in each state will improve the lives of children by increasing the understanding of the determinants of rehabilitation of PA/TBI and inform the development of innovative, empirically-based interventions.
Ann Glang, Senior Fellow and Research Professor at the TR, said, “When a child is injured, most of the ‘rehabilitation’ takes place in school. Because of this, besides the family, the most critical partners in the rehabilitation process are educators who provide services in school settings. TR is pleased to coordinate nationally activities that will support and build the capacity of this key aspect of the continuum of care. There is a critical need to conduct research, modify policy and expand services in this area.”
The Teaching Research Institutes’ (TR) Eugene office, as the new Center of Excellence for Oregon will help ensure that children and their families receive access to appropriate services and resources. The Center will focus on 1) providing care and services to maximize the child/youth’s recovery and development after PA/TBI, 2) supporting the family through all stages of recovery, 3) working with schools and community agencies to improve rehabilitative and educational services for children/youth with PA/TBI and 4) initiating changes in social practices and policy. The Center will have an overarching mission of research on effective approaches to supporting children/youth with PA/TBI and their families.
“Teaching Research is pleased to coordinate our state's efforts to more effectively serve children with brain injuries, their families, and the educators, agency staff, and community providers who work with them,” said Glang. “This is a group of children who have been under-identified and under-served for many years. The SJBF Center will provide much-needed resources to support this vulnerable group of children.”
For more than 15 years, through research and service, the Eugene branch of the Teaching Research Institute at Western Oregon University, has worked to improve the lives of children with traumatic brain injury. TR's current TBI related research projects include collaborating with Oregon schools and hospitals to improve the hospital to school re-entry process and to track educational outcomes of students post TBI. Previous research has focused on the transition of youth with TBI from school to adult roles, developing an intervention to improve social relationships for students with TBI, and helping families and educators work together to improve school services for this population. In 1993, TR, in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Education, developed the TBI Education Consulting Team. Currently, the team has nine regional liaisons and 90 members who have received extensive training related to TBI and effective strategies for supporting children/youth in school settings. Team members are available to consult with Oregon educators of students identified with TBI. The combination of training and technical assistance grounded on field-based research has established TR as a national leader in provision of school-based services to students with TBI.
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Ann Glang, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Research Professor, Teaching Research Institute
Co-director, Center of Excellence
541-346-0594 or 541-349-4803, firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-director, Center of Excellence