More Than 1,000 Disabled in N.J. Could Lose Benefits From Cash-Strapped Traumatic Brain Injury Fund


Posted on 20th February 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Roughly 1,300 disabled people in New Jersey could lose treatment and services because of budget cuts impacting the state’s Traumatic Brain Injury Fund.

A New Jersey Assembly committee met Thursday to talk about possible ways to raise more money for the fund. In order to keep within the fund’s yearly $3.4 million budget, some officials have recommended that the fund only serve those who sustained a blow to the head, not those who suffered brain injury from a stroke, tumor or other type of trauma.

If that change were made, 60 percent of the 2,000 people who now get services from the program would be ineligible for it.

One of the solutions being considered is raising the 50-cent surcharge on car registrations that funds the program now.

Recipients who would be cut off from the Traumatic Brain Injury Fund are understandingly upset, as described in this well-done human interest story by The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.

The story talks about the case of Michael Jankowsky of Toms River, who got stabbed in the heart trying to protect a friend 25 years ago. His brain didn’t get oxygen, and he suffered brain damage. He needs constant care, at age 45.

“He uses a wheelchair, slurs his speech, and struggles to concentrate,” The Ledger writes. “He has made progress over the past few years, his mother says, thanks to New Jersey’s Traumatic Brain Injury Fund, which paid for speech therapy and other treatments not covered by insurance.”

The story goes on, “That could end soon. The Brain Injury Fund is going broke, and the state wants to limit whom it helps to people whose brain damage came from a direct blow to the head.”

This is absurd. The issue is whether the brain is injured, not what mechanism of injury caused it. Some of the most serious of brain injuries don’t involve any blow to the head and as high as 50% of concussions do as well. See for more on the mechanical forces which cause brain injury.

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