Medical Issues & Disabilities – Answers To Reader’s Questions

Members of the Minnesota state legislature are currently reviewing proposed legislation which would establish a trauma registry in the state […]

Members of the Minnesota state legislature are currently reviewing proposed legislation which would establish a trauma registry in the state of Minnesota.

The proposed Minnesota Trauma Registry would document the number of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and spinal cord injuries (SCI) occurring in Minnesota each year. The Registry would also ensure that persons with traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury would be provided with information regarding appropriate public or private agencies that provide rehabilitative services. Furthermore, this registry will enable the State to document the incidence and prevalence of traumatic injuries for purposes of prevention and improved allocation of limited resources for treatment and rehabilitation programs.

A National Inter-agency Head Injury Task Force (Department of Health and Human Services) stressed the importance of reliable data in order to plan rationally for prevention, control, and treatment of traumatic injuries. The Task Force challenged local and state communities “To characterize the magnitude of its TBI problem and to identify victims, severity, causes …, consequent disabilities and costs.”

The suspected incidence of TBI is very high, with over 10,000 Minnesotans suffering traumatic brain injuries each year. A smaller but very significant number sustain spinal cord injuries. The number of survivors of TBI and SCI is dramatically increasing as medical technology is able to save people who previously would have died from their injuries. These persons are predominantly young, and the majority manifest impairment that will interfere with their ability to live and work in the community.

The National Interagency Task Force estimated that the economic cost of TBI alone approaches $25 billion per year.

We cannot begin to act decisively and efficiently to prevent these injuries or to target treatment efforts until accurate data is available. The Trauma Registry is an absolutely necessary first step toward tackling this major social problem.

Fifteen states, including North Dakota and Iowa, have already accepted the National Task Force’s mandate and adopted registry laws. Minnesota enjoys a reputation for enlightened and progressive approaches to social problems. Not only can good social policy in this area save many dollars, but, more importantly, the savings in terms of human suffering will lessened.

Based on a cost analysis by the Department of Public Health, the projected cost of the Trauma Registry is estimated to be $190,000 annually for the first three years. The legislation proposes that this money will be raised by allocating a portion of an increase in the driver’s license reinstatement fee (from $200 to 250).

The Registry will be administered by the Department of Public Health. Each Minnesota hospital, medical facility, or attending physician will be required to report the injury to the department within five days of diagnosis. The commissioner of Public Health will adopt rules concerning the distribution of the data in accordance with the Minnesota Privacy Act.

It is hoped this legislation will benefit survivors and their families by providing the injured person with information regarding rehabilitation services directly from the Department of Rehabilitation Services or their designee. Additionally, by tracking specifics regarding the incidence of these injuries, causative factors can be traced and prevention efforts can be accurately targeted.

Chief authors of the bill are Sen. Linda Berglin, Minneapolis, and Rep. Peter Rodosovich, Faribault. Supporters of the legislation include Minnesota Head Injury Association; National and Minnesota Spinal Cord Injury Associations; Sister Kenny Institute; The Epilepsy Foundation; United Handicap Federation; Minnesota Association for Retarded Citizens; Courage Center; Accessible Space; St. Cloud Hospital; Safe Kids Coalition; Jim Malec, Ph.D., Mayo Medical Center; Colleen Wieck, Governor’s Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities; and Dr. Gaylan Rockswold, M.D., Chief of Neurosurgery, Hennepin County Medical Center.


For more information on this proposed legislation, contact Hilary or Ellie at the Minnesota Head Injury Association (MHIA), (612) 644-1121. Information in this article was reprinted with the permission of the MHIA.

To submit question on medical or rehabilitative issues for future columns, write: Medical Issues and Disability, sister Kenny Institute, Dept. 16601, 800 E. 28th St., Mpl, MN 55407-3799.