In 2002, the Hawaii State Legislature passed Act 160, enacting Chapter 321H of the Hawaii Revised Statutes which recognized the needs of individuals who suffer from the physical, cognitive, and behavioral consequences of neurotrauma. Neurotrauma is defined as a severe chronic disability of a person that is attributable to an injury to the central nervous system, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury (SCI), and is likely to continue indefinitely. The statute states neurotrauma can include other neurological dysfunctions but does not include substance misuse and abuse, Alzheimer’s disease, or the infirmities of aging. Stroke was included in the definition of neurotrauma because it is a preventable neurological dysfunction that can result in substantial limitations in the areas described in the statue.
The statute mandates the Department of Health, Neurotrauma Program to provide education on neurotrauma, assistance to individuals and families to identify and obtain access to services, and the creation of a neurotrauma registry through the Neurotrauma Special Fund. The Neurotrauma Advisory board (NTAB) and State Traumatic Injury Advisory Board (STBIAB) provides recommendations to the Neurotrauma Program on implementing this directive.