Last week we shared the news that NIH was looking for input into their strategic plan. One of our faithful readers, Laurie Stahlecker, wrote in with the following suggestion. We are sharing our response to Laurie and the action we took to show all Network faithful that it really is easy to get your voice heard - and we will help you do that!
Laurie's note to the CMHNetwork:
- "You need much more information on children with brain injuries. I have a child with a traumatic brain injury, and there is absolutely no help for him in Minnesota!!! I have worked with individuals that are unqualified and ignorant when it comes to TBI. Research is nil to nothing. Very disappointing." ~ Laurie Stahlecker ~
Our response to Laurie:
- Laurie - Thank you for being a faithful Friday Update reader and pointing out an area in the NIH strategic plan that could use improvent. The Children's Mental Health Network greatly appreciates your willingness to comment. We recognize that much more is needed to meet the needs of children with brain injuries, particularly their mental and behavioral health needs.
Many other families express similar frustration about how little awareness there appears to be about brain injuries, particularly in the developing brain of a child, and how much effort it takes to explain the connection between the behaviors and the injury in order to get the most appropriate level of care and the services and supports that families need, no matter where they are on their journey or recovery and healing.
Your comment inspired us to write a comment to the National Institutes of Health, calling for more research to be done on the behavioral manifestations of brain injury, and for a faster transition of knowledge from the laboratory to the field where it can influence positive outcomes and quality of life for people living with brain injury and their families. We are encouraged by the NIH commitment to the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative and will continue to follow their findings and advocate for making brain injury and its behavioral health manifestations a research and awareness priority.
Here is what we wrote to NIH:
- The Children's Mental Health Network strongly advocates for a concerted research emphasis on brain injury and related mental and behavioral health conditions.
Recently much public attention has centered on the BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) which is doing much to further scientific understanding of the human brain, and the many physiological, biological, psychological and behavioral disorders that affect it.
Pursuing research programs that seek to translate the scientific findings of BRAIN projects into meaningful improvements in health outcomes for patients represents a compelling next step. A potential avenue through which these translational research projects could be implemented is in the area of brain injury, specifically as it relates to mental and behavioral health.
There exists a critical disconnect in linking the incidence of any kind of acquired brain injury to cognitive, behavioral, psychological and emotional deficits. Health providers - with alarming regularity - fail to predict the long-term behavioral and psychological consequences of brain injuries. The result of this is that patients with brain injuries are only treated for mental and behavioral conditions, with little to no attention given to the potential organic causes of those conditions.
The relationship between brain injuries and maladaptive behavioral conditions throughout childhood and adolescence has been well-documented, tracing back to the pioneering lesion studies of the 1990s up until projects falling under the umbrella of the BRAIN Initiative. The need arises to implement conclusions garnered from those studies, vis-à-vis imaging and diagnosis, risk factors, brain plasticity in development, and emotional, cognitive and psychological deficits, into substantive clinical treatment protocols that can have a tangible impact on the health outcomes of individuals with brain injuries.
The association between brain injury and behavioral health represents a significant opportunity for bridging the gap between laboratory science and improved quality of life.
If you have something you want us to weigh in on something, let us know. This is the power of the collective voice. Let's use it!
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President & CEO
Children's Mental Health Network