August 10, 2015

Blood Test May Lead to TBI Diagnosis

by Levin & Perconti

As researchers and doctors continue searching for innovative methods of diagnosing and treating traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), there is optimism about a new test that not only detects the presence of TBI, but reportedly determines its level of severity as well. According to a report in Psych Central, a research study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma uses protein levels in the blood to diagnose TBIs and determine how severe the injury has become.

The Study Details

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August 4, 2015

PTSD and TBI Show Similar Symptoms

by Levin & Perconti

Members of the United States Armed Forces face challenges that most civilians find hard to even imagine. In addition to the risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that many face on the battlefields, these brave individuals often suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well. A recent report by Psych Central discusses a study to better understand the similarities between TBIs and PTSD, which often affect patients simultaneously.

What is a TBI?

The National institute of Health (NIH) defines a TBI as damage to the brain that is caused by an external force. The level of severity can range from a mild concussion to extensive loss of consciousness, amnesia and cognitive impairments.

What is PTSD?

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July 27, 2015

Researchers Report the Development of a TBI Treating Antibody

by Levin & Perconti

One of the numerous consequences of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease at a later stage of life. A recent study in Nature, the International Weekly Journal of Science, suggests that researchers have found the driving cause behind the greater risk, along with an antibody that blocks the process.

What Causes Alzheimer's Disease

As explained in the article, healthy tau proteins (trans P-tau) form scaffolding within nerve cells, which enables them to perform their correct duties. If the process works incorrectly, the resulting proteins are distorted (cis P-tau). They do not function properly, resulting in damage to the energy generators. This ultimately causes the cells to deteriorate and die.

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July 15, 2015

Money Talks - The Business of Brain Injury Research

by Levin & Perconti

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a serious problem in the modern medical landscape. From athletic concussions to military related battlefield injuries, doctors and scientists diligently search for new methods of diagnosis, treatment and prevention. While no one doubts the importance of this work, the recent public interest in TBIs spawned what appears to be a lucrative business field. Makers of new inventions claim to understand concussion prevention, while physicians and researchers purport to have discovered new and effective treatment methods. A recent article in the New York Times is calling attention to this trend and asks whether these new innovations are truly worth their earnings.

Awareness about concussions and TBIs greatly increased over the past decade. This is due in part to very high profile lawsuits against the National Football League (NFL), as well as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). As concern grew, the federal government began collaborating with several medical organizations to increase public awareness and research new treatment options.

Dr. David X. Cifu, is a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who also works for the Veterans Affairs Department. He believes that this growth in government spending led to the increased research and suspicious claims. Cifu is quoted in the Times article as stating, “It was a small field that got amazingly large because a lot of people were making stuff up and claiming things.”

Military Spending

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July 9, 2015

Is Hyperbaric Treatment Really Effective to Treat TBIs

by Levin & Perconti

In the quest to adequately diagnose and respond to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), scientists and doctors have developed a variety of treatment options. Among those is the hyperbaric chamber, which provides pure oxygen to the patient. While many professionals believe in the effectiveness of these treatments on TBI patients, a recent article in The New York Times is raising questions about whether the hyperbaric chamber is truly providing any benefit.

How It Works

The Mayo Clinic, explains that hyperbaric oxygen therapy works by providing pure oxygen to patients while they are inside a pressurized environment. Doctors commonly use the treatment for wounds that are not healing correctly, along with various illnesses. The process begins with the patient's placement within an oxygen therapy chamber. Air pressure in the chamber is steadily raised to three times the normal levels. Patients breathe in large amounts of pure oxygen at pressures that even exceed those at sea level.

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June 30, 2015

Children with TBIs Experience Increased Sleepiness

by Levin & Perconti

A recent article on Medpage Today is discussing the prevalence of sleep problems among children with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). According to the study, these youth experience higher rates of disturbed sleep patterns during the night, with increased sleepiness during the daytime hours.

The Study Details

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June 23, 2015

Domestic Violence Victims Suffer Silently with Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

The prevalence of traumatic brain injuries within certain sports is well documented. News outlets are filled with stories about the National Football League player lawsuit, as well as legal actions against the National Collegiate Athletic Association and World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. While these victims are front and center in the conscious of the public, some organizations are working to help a group of victims who often go unheard.

According to the Mayo Clinic, TBIs occur when an external force connects with the head, causing the brain to malfunction. The force is usually a blow to the head or a violent jolt. The symptoms of a TBI can range from a mild concussion to fatality. With most TBI patients, the injury causing force is obvious. A military veteran may have experienced a battlefield related injury. The body of a car crash victim probably jolted forcefully or his head may have hit some area of the car. For athletes, the physical contact of the sport can create a significant force. While all of these possibilities are openly and commonly discussed, the blow of a lover's hand to the head is not.

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June 15, 2015

Does Brain Injury Contribute to Domestic Violence?

by Levin & Perconti

Two of the country’s most controversial and concerning problems may be linked to one another, according to an article in Time. Researchers are asking whether traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) lead to violent behavior towards domestic partners. The article centers on Jovan Belcher, a professional football player who killed his girlfriend and himself in 2012. According to the report, approximately one year after his death, researchers exhumed his body to study his brain. It was reportedly determined that it was severely decomposed, which suggests that he suffered from some level of brain trauma during his life.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain malfunction that is often found in individuals who experience repetitive brain traumas, like athletes who suffer from regularly occurring concussions. According to experts, it develops from the buildup of an abnormal protein that causes the tissues of the brain to progressively degenerate. Though symptoms of the condition can appear during the lifetime of a patient, CTE is currently only diagnosable post-mortem. As reported in the article, Belcher’s brain showed collections of the abnormal protein in various sections.

Symptoms of CTE

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June 9, 2015

Sports-Related Brain Injuries - Rugby and TBI Dangers

by Levin & Perconti

The risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among football players and boxers is well documented and commonly discussed among medical professionals. But another sport is becoming part of this international conversation. A new study in the May edition of the Quarterly Journal of Medicine is examining the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries on rugby players. As reported on HealthDay, medical experts now believe that injuries related to this popular sport can lead degenerative brain disease later in life.

The study comes after the death of a rugby player who regularly played the game from the age of 20-years-old until 50-years-old. Upon his death at 57-years-old, the player was reportedly showing signs of brain injury. According to the report, the player suffered from numerous concussions and head injuries throughout his athletic career. The autopsy revealed a diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which reportedly develops in cases of repeated concussions.

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June 3, 2015

Helmet Sensors: A Useful Tool Against Concussions?

by Levin & Perconti

In the fight against traumatic brain injuries, technology is a major piece of the puzzle. Medical professionals work with engineers and designers to create equipment that better protects and treats these potentially fatal injuries. One of the latest technologies seems like a sure bet, but its implementation is causing concern for one of the largest sporting organizations in the world.

Sporting goods manufacturer Riddell introduced InSite in 2013. The sensors are placed inside of helmets and provide coaches with valuable information about blows sustained by players.

According to an article in Newsweek, the technology does the following:

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May 25, 2015

An Unusual Analysis of the Traumatic Brain Injury

by Levin & Perconti

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) contribute to an alarming number of deaths and permanent injuries every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 2.5 million people suffered from some type of TBI in 2010. Whether symptoms range from a seemingly harmless concussion to a loss of consciousness, medical professionals want the public to understand the potential risks of brain injuries and proactively work to prevent and/or treat them.

The Comparison

Towards that goal, an article in Brainerd Dispatch is explaining the medical ins and outs of brain injury in a unique way. Dr. Bruce Cunningham is making the comparison between TBIs and ankle sprains. He explains that the pain which often accompanies a sprain is “nature’s way of getting you to rest the injury so it can recover and reduce the chance of reinjury or a worse injury.” The signs of brain injury may include a persistent headache, blurred vision, nausea and an inability to focus. According to Cunningham, these symptoms are also designed to make you rest and recover from your injury.

Swelling is another common thread between the TBI and an ankle sprain. Both injuries are caused by an outward action. When the tissues of the ankle become damaged, internal bleeding may occur. In response, the brain reportedly releases fluids from other tissues in the area. Though the fluids are there to protect the area during healing, they also force you to immobilize the ankle. Swelling can also accompany a brain injury for similar reasons. However, unlike the ankle, which has freedom to expand outward, the brain in confined within the skull. Therefore, continuous swelling can lead to additional injury. In addition, completely switching off the brain is virtually impossible for a conscious human being, which complicates rest and recovery.

The article pointed out one other major difference between the two injuries, which exemplifies the seriousness of TBIs and their potential danger. With an ankle sprain, you can see the injury. You can visually tell when the swelling has subsided and the bruising is healed. This is not the case with a TBI, absent medical evaluations. For this reason, many TBI patients misdiagnose themselves and continue with their regular activities. They do not realize that their brain is not fully healed, and the possibility of injury recurrence is high.

Proper Care and Treatment

When TBIs occur, proper treatment is vitally important to ensure proper healing and minimize the potential for further injury. Patients should seek the assistance of a health care provider as quickly as possible, even if the only symptom is a headache or slight confusion. Left untreated, a brain injury can leave an individual with lifelong disabilities, or in the worst case, prove fatal.

If you or a loved is suffering with a severe brain injury at the hands of another, contact the experienced attorneys at Levin & Perconti.

May 19, 2015

TBIs May Contribute to PICA Condition

by Levin & Perconti

The effects of a traumatic brain injury can prove vast and far reaching. From cognitive disorders to emotional difficulties, injury to the brain can touch virtually every aspect of a patient’s life. As suggested in a medical study, this may also include the urge to eat substances that are dangerous to the body and seen by most people as extremely odd.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) defines Pica as an urge to eat non-food substances, such as laundry detergent or paper. It is reportedly more common in children than in adults, affecting about a third of all minors between the ages of 1 and 5 years old. Some of the most common materials ingested by people with this disorder include:

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