November 21, 2014

Important TBI Legislation Passes the House

by Levin & Perconti

Advocates for the treatment of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) are celebrating a victory with the passage of the Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act of 2014 by the U.S. House of Representatives. The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) made the announcement last week, stating that it is an accomplishment several years in the making. According to an NBC News report, the passage of the Act will mean continued federal funding for prevention and education, as well as research and treatment initiatives.

Susan Connors is President and CEO of BIAA. She is included in the article as stating, “The passage of this reauthorization of the TBI Act means that research relating to children with brain injuries will gain more attention. TBI prevention and surveillance programs at CDC will continue, as will the state grant program and protection and advocacy grant program currently administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).” She also added her appreciation grassroots TBI organizations, “without whom this would not have been possible.”

Under the legislation, the following authorizations would occur:

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November 14, 2014

Recognizing Traumatic Brain Injury Behaviors

by Levin & Perconti

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can manifest itself in a variety of ways, depending on the location of the injury inside of the brain. Each part of the brain controls a different emotion and/ or action and damage to an individual section can result in specific behaviors or inabilities to function. The following are common behaviors associated with specific TBIs.

The Frontal Lobe – The frontal lobe is the area of the brain behind the forehead. It is responsible for emotions and determines your individual personality. It also controls spontaneity and sexual behaviors. When the frontal lobe is injured, the individual may demonstrate changes in their social interactions and inhibitions. A high level of intolerance or overly aggressive behavior are also common with frontal lobe TBIs.

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November 5, 2014

Good News: Brain Injury Studies on the Rise

by Levin & Perconti

The prevalence of news articles about traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) exemplify the magnitude and seriousness of the problem across a wide range of activities and industries. The National Football League is attempting to settle a multi-million dollar lawsuit instituted by former and present players and their families. The National Collegiate Athletic Association is also in the midst of controversy regarding the alleged mishandling of concussions and TBIs among virtually all collegiate sports. The federal government even has a lot at stake as military personnel face extreme TBI risks during battle. But all of these concerning TBI issues are leading to some positive results.

The Huffington Post is reporting that extensive news coverage is leading to increased medical research on this serious problem. According to the article, media and information giant Thomson Reuters conducted a study about the frequency and volume of TBI research and scientific reporting. The organization reportedly considered thousands of books, scholarly magazines and conferences in searching for TBI topics. The initial study results produced more than 31,000 informational pieces. From there, the researchers identified the most scholarly and medically sound works and concluded that TBI research studies quadrupled over the last 13 years from approximately 1,000 in 2001 to almost 4,000 thus far in 2014.

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October 29, 2014

Harvard Study Questions the Handling of College Concussions

by Levin & Perconti

A recent study by Harvard University reports that colleges are significantly inconsistent in their handling of athletic concussions. These findings come in the midst of concerns about coaches sending obviously injured athletes back onto the football field. They also raise questions about the effectiveness of implemented head trauma plans.

According to an article in The Republic, researchers reviewed responses from about 900 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) member schools. The results showed that roughly 20% of them are operating without a standardized and consistent concussion management plan.

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October 22, 2014

Joan Rivers' Death Caused by Brain Injury

by Levin & Perconti

On September 4th, the world of comedy lost one its most beloved queens, when Joan Rivers passed away. Now, almost six weeks later, the official medical examination is reporting that Rivers' death was the result of traumatic injury to the brain. According to a CNN report, the 81 year old comedian died from “therapeutic complications” following a medical throat procedure. The New York Chief Medical Examiner is reportedly listing the cause of death as anoxic encephalopathy, a type of brain damage that occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen. In the official statement, the examiner defines the events as “a predictable complication of medical therapy.”

Lack of Oxygen to the Brain

Oxygen is vital to the functions of the brain. After only takes four minutes without oxygen, brain cells begin to die. This is defined as hypoxia. According to Mount Sinai Hospital, it can occur in two ways, including:

*The blood flow to the brain is either blocked or slowed. This often happens as a result of stroke, blood clots or heart attacks.

* There is normal blood flow, but an inadequate amount of oxygen is in the blood. This may occur as a result of:
1. Lung disease
2. At high altitudes, where there is a lack of oxygen in the air
3. Exposure to certain toxins, like carbon dioxide, can lead to hypoxia
4. An event that impedes normal breathing, such as drowning or choking.

Hypoxia can progress at various rates. The symptoms for mild to moderate hypoxia include headaches, poor coordination and an inability to concentrate. If the condition is diagnosed and treated in time, long term injury is avoidable. Severe hypoxia occurs rapidly, resulting in a traumatic brain injury or death.

For Rivers, the medical complications started during a laryngoscopy, which is reportedly a routine throat procedure. CNN reports that her vocal chords began to swell, which began to diminish the flow of oxygen within her body. Pathologist Bill Loyd is quoted in the article as stating, "She stopped breathing and her heart went into arrhythmia because there wasn't sufficient oxygen to maintain the heart muscle... The pump, the heart itself, was unable to move fresh oxygenated blood upstream to the brain." While the hypoxia started from the vocal cord complications, it progressed quickly when her heart stopped beating. The resulting anoxic encephalopathy ultimately caused her death.

Prevention and Treatment

Mount Sinai Hospital advises that the risk of anoxic encephalopathy can be lessened by taking certain steps:

-Learning to Swim
-Chewing food completely and properly
-Installing and maintaining carbon monoxide detectors
-Avoiding exposure to high voltage electricity sources

However, the condition may also result from the actions of a physician. According to recent reports, the medical center where Rivers was treated is currently under investigation and may ultimately shut down if wrong-doing is found. For incidents where malpractice is proven, the responsible party should be held financially responsible for the pain and suffering of the victim.

If you or a loved one suffered anoxic encephalopathy at the hands of a treating physician, contact the experienced attorneys of Levin & Perconti at (312) 332-2872 for a free consultation. These knowledgeable attorneys will aggressively work to secure the compensation to which you are entitled.

See Other Blog Posts:

Controversy Continues About Helmets, Warning labels, and Brain Injury

“The Crash Reel” Documentary on Snowboarding & TBIs

October 15, 2014

Accident Related Brain Injuries and Memory Loss

by Levin & Perconti

On a New Jersey highway in June, a fatal accident took the life of one successful comedian and tragically changed the life of another. Recent reports reveal that television actor and comedian Tracy Morgan is suffering from traumatic brain injuries. These complications are reportedly so severe that may permanently keep him from returning to the stage.

Morgan was a passenger in a limousine, when the vehicle was reportedly hit from behind by a Wal-Mart tractor trailer. In the weeks that followed, news outlets reported that the driver of the tractor trailer had been awake for more than 24 hours at the time of the accident and he was officially charged with vehicular homicide and death by automobile. Morgan also filed a lawsuit against the retail store for negligence and reckless conduct. According to recent reports, a counter suit was filed alleging that Morgan is to blame for not wearing his safety belt.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents are the third leading cause of traumatic head injuries among victims of all age, making up about 14% of all incidents. In addition, auto accidents cause 26% of all traumatic head injury deaths, making them the second leading cause of these fatalities between 2006 and 2010. When an accident occurs, the impact can result in a variety of injuries. It can cause a jolting, bumping or penetration of the passenger's head, which may interrupt normal brain functions.

Memory Loss

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October 10, 2014

NFL Legend Lends Name to Brain Injury Research

by Levin & Perconti

A legend of the National Football League (NFL) recently announced his support for a new brain injury research facility that will bear his name. Several news outlets are reporting that Joe Namath, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985, is lending his name to a Florida treatment center for brain injury research. He is quoted as saying, "My suffering has come from losing some friends, has come from watching some guys deteriorate over the years, guys that have had traumatic brain injuries, teammates of mine.”

Namath played football for much of his adult life, first as a quarterback at the University of Alabama. He was drafted to the New York Jets in 1965, earning a record breaking salary for the time. Namath played in the inaugural game of Monday Night Football and worked his way to one Super Bowl win before retiring from the game in 1978. Since that time, he's been able to successfully stretch his talents in a number of directions, as an actor and a business owner. In January, he publicly spoke to the press about his problems with brain injury and the effects of football on the body.

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September 30, 2014

NFL Faces New Brain Injury Lawsuit

by Levin & Perconti

The new professional football season is here, with new games, new players and new problems. However, one old problem continues to plague the controversial National Football League (NFL). According to recent reports, the widow of a former player is suing the league, along with several other defendants, for its alleged failure to adequately protect players from traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

The plaintiff's husband spent about five years in the league, playing for the New Orleans Saints, as well as the San Diego Chargers. In 2013, he took his own life with a gunshot wound to his head, while in the presence of his wife and his children. At the time of his death, court documents allege that he suffered from the consequences of numerous head traumas and concussions. However, it was not until the autopsy that doctors formerly diagnosed him with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and other brain injuries.

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September 23, 2014

The Risks of “Talk and Die Syndrome”

by Levin & Perconti

Victims of traumatic brain injuries generally exhibit numerous symptoms. However, there are rare occasions when the victim demonstrates no indication of injury, followed by a severe medical emergency. Termed “talk and die syndrome”, the condition can prove critical and even fatal if it is not caught in time. Though they are both classified as traumatic brain injuries, the syndrome differs from a concussion in the type of damage that occurs inside the skull and brain.

“Talk and die syndrome” gained national exposure in 2009 when an award winning actress was killed following a ski accident. According to a report in the New York Times, Natasha Richardson suffered a brain injury while on a skiing vacation. She fell during a lesson and while she was not wearing a helmet, her fall was reportedly not serious. Witnesses stated that she appeared fine, showing no signs of injury. About an hour after the incident, Richardson reportedly began feeling ill and she was taken to an area hospital, where she ultimately died. In the days following, medical experts concluded that her death was a result of “talk and die syndrome”.

What is “Talk and Die”

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September 16, 2014

A Possible Connection Between TBIs and Suicide Risk

by Levin & Perconti

September is suicide awareness month and recent studies suggest a possible link between traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in youth and increased suicide risks. According to a study reported by Psych Central, teenagers who experience a traumatic brain injury have “significantly greater odds” of developing high-risk behaviors, including suicidal tendencies.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) describes a TBI as a “disruption to normal brain function” caused by a sudden blow or jolting of the head. These conditions range from mild to severe depending on the level of injury. Mild TBIs are generally known as concussions, while severe injuries may result in long term memory loss and extended unconsciousness. Youth and teens are at an increased risk for TBIs, due to falls and participation in youth recreation. The CDC reports that in 2009, almost 250,000 children under the age of 19 were treated for sports related injuries, including TBI diagnoses.

The teen TBI study was conducted in Canada, where more than 9,000 students in grades seven through 12 were surveyed about their health and well-being, including traumatic brain injuries. It is reportedly estimated that nearly 20% of teens in the area experienced a TBI as some point in their youth. According to the article, study researchers concluded that teens with a history of TBI were twice as likely to experience bullying from classmates and three times as likely to attempt suicide. Specific observed negative behaviors included:

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September 7, 2014

Researchers Find a Correlation Between Higher Education and TBI Recovery

by Levin & Perconti

Traumatic brain injuries send approximately 1.5 million people to the emergency room every year. They are the top cause of death and disability in individuals under the age of 45, according to the Brain Trauma Foundation. There are currently 5.3 million Americans living with brain injury disability. Rates of recovery differ, depending on the seriousness of the injury. While researchers have identified numerous factors that affect the rate of healing, recent studies suggest that patients with higher levels of education exemplify a better rate of recovery.

Scientists from Johns Hopkins University recently conducted a research study about “cognitive reserve”, which measures the brain's functionality when damaged. According to a report by CBS News , researchers determined that patients were more likely to recover from brain injuries if they had earned at least an undergraduate degree prior to their injury. These results are reportedly similar to previous findings in dementia studies, where patients with advanced education showed a slower progression of the disease.

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August 29, 2014

Even New Army Helmets Don't Prevent Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

As part on an ongoing effort to protect servicemembers from serious injury, the army recently revealed the prototype of a new helmet that was specifically designed to prevent traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The Conformal Integrated Protective Headgear System includes a jaw protector and face visor to provide a more comprehensive level of safety for the soldier. However, despite the efforts of developers, testers determined that the helmets may prove more harmful than protective.

According to an article in The Blaze, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) determined that the changes to the helmet, while more protective of the face, are not adequate in protecting the head from the potentially devastating effects of a blast. In conducting the tests, researchers used gelled test dummies. After equipping them with the helmets, explosives were set off from a distance to simulate the the types of blasts that a soldier may encounter during battle. The findings showed that the resulting pressure on the brain was not significantly decreased.

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