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Traumatic Brain Injury in New Jersey, 1997


This report provides data on annual incidence of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in New Jersey. The prevalence of TBI cannot be estimated with data currently available. According to one recent national estimate, about 70,000 persons have head injuries that are classified as moderate to severe annually.1 Persons with moderate to severe TBI will live the rest of their lives with a combination of cognitive, behavioral, and emotional deficits, and will require long-term rehabilitation services. Currently, there are little data on the impact of mild TBI on normal function, and population-based state level data on the survivors' disability level or the capacity to return to normal life are not collected.

Until recently, the ability to develop and evaluate injury prevention programs has been limited due to incomplete reporting of external cause-of-injury (e.g., motor vehicle-related or assaults). The NJDOH implemented E code reporting of all injury-related admissions beginning with the calendar year 1994. Using the existing sources of data within the NJDOH, a TBI surveillance system was developed under CDC guidelines.2 Data from 1994 and subsequent years will provide a source of information for public health surveillance, prevention and evaluation specific to traumatic brain injuries. Maintaining an ongoing surveillance system is essential to monitoring progress towards New Jersey's health objectives.3,4

While there are no legislative requirements regarding reporting of TBI in New Jersey, there is a New Jersey Advisory Council on Traumatic Brain Injury, established by Governor Christine Todd Whitman under Executive Order 84 in 1998.5 Chaired by the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services, the Council consists of state officials as well as public members appointed by the Governor, including survivors of traumatic brain injuries or their family members, and representatives of health-related organizations. The purposes of the Council are to: 1) advise and make recommendations on ways to improve services for traumatic brain injuries; 2) encourage citizen participation through the establishment of public hearings and community outreach and prevention activities; 3) encourage and stimulate research and prevention activities; and 4) oversee any programs created under federal Public Law 104-166.

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Department of Health
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