April 24, 2015

Using Light Therapy to Treat Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

In the ongoing fight to treat debilitating brain injuries, scientists may have identified a new and unexpected tool. According to the Science Blog, Gulf War veterans and other traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients are receiving innovative light treatments in hopes of improving brain function. The 30 minute procedure is reportedly painless and involves the application of infrared lights through the scalp of the head.

How the Treatment Works

Patients are reportedly given helmets containing diodes, which are electronic components that emit a current. These diodes send red lights and near-infrared lights through the head. Additionally, physicians place diodes into the patient’s nose for the purpose of reaching deeper regions within the brain. According to the report, MRI scans revealed that the light increased the flow of blood inside of the brain by causing an increase in the output of nitric oxide.

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April 16, 2015

Using Smell to Diagnose Brain Injury

by Levin & Perconti

The prevalence of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) is a continuous challenge for the United States military. The conditions that soldiers face in battle are conducive to mild and serious concussions, which left untreated, can evolve into lasting injuries to the brain. In response, researchers are constantly looking for productive methods of diagnosis and treatment, even in the chaotic heat of battle. Medscape is reporting about a possible new method of diagnosing brain injuries on the battlefield and it focuses on the sense of smell.

The Study Details

The study was reportedly conducted by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. It included 231 soldiers who were injured following battle explosions in Iraq or Afghanistan. All of the soldiers were immediately air lifted to Walter Reed Military Medical Center. Using the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT), physicians evaluated the soldiers for TBI. According to the report, the patients with mild or no brain injuries exemplified normal senses of smell. Soldiers with severe brain injuries were found to have olfactory impairment, meaning their sense of smell was abnormal.

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April 9, 2015

TBIs Fuel Premature Retirement from the NFL

by Levin & Perconti

Recent headlines are filled with stories about the dangers of traumatic brain injuries among players in the National Football League (NFL). The aggressive hitting that intrinsically accompanies the game creates an environment where players are at substantial risk for blows to the head. As players advance in age, the possible long term effects become obvious, leading to an abundance of legal actions against the league. A class action lawsuit alleges that NFL leaders purposely withheld information about the potential ramifications of multiple concussions and brain injuries. The two sides are currently finalizing a settlement agreement. In consideration of these findings and events, several players are making the decision to prematurely end their professional football careers.

The Boston Globe is reporting about Chris Borland, who is a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers. At 24 years old, he announced his decision to leave the NFL after only one season of play. According to the article, his decision is based on concerns about about long lasting brain conditions. The significance of his actions stems from the fact that Borland is a member of the first generation of players to have full disclosure about the dangers of the game. Players are now armed with enough data, studies and personal experiences to make in informed decision about playing the game for an extended amount of time.

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April 2, 2015

Brain Injury Association Seeking Federal Support

by Levin & Perconti

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) is hoping to bring attention to the level of work that is still needed to adequately diagnose and treat the millions of Americans who suffer from traumatic brain injuries. In recognition of this month, the organization is highlighting its 2015 legislative goals:

*Increase and advance brain injury research studies – While acknowledging the progress that has been made in TBI research and treatment, this initiative seeks to decrease the vast amount of unknown variables that still exist. BIAA asks Congress to support the BRAIN Initiative, which works to give physicians a better understanding of the brain and its workings.

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March 24, 2015

Study Examines TBI Complications in Children

by Levin & Perconti

A recent study published in “Critical Care Medicine” investigates a disturbing side effect among children with moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The research focuses on a condition called vasospasm, which is the narrowing of blood vessels within the body. The constrictions happen quickly, like a muscle spasm.

As reported by News Medical, researchers set out to better determine the prevalence of the condition. The resulting information found that vasospasm was present in 3% to 8.5% of children with moderate TBI and 21% to 33.5% of children with severe brain injury. Additionally, the condition was found to appear within four to five days after the causing injury occurred.

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March 17, 2015

TBIs Linked to Sexual Disinhibition

by Levin & Perconti

Every year, more than 2.4 million people experience some level of traumatic brain injury. Falls and motor vehicle accidents are the most common causes, along with items striking the head and assaults. Though most of the 2.4 million incidents are relatively minor, many of them result in extensive pain injuries that impact the victim’s brain for the remainder of his life. People who live with TBIs experience a variety of symptoms, including:

***Depression and anxiety
***Memory loss
***Visual/Hearing Impairment
***Loss of Control over body movements
***Inability to concentrate
***Confusion
***Loss of cognitive thinking skills

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March 7, 2015

Back to the Basics - The Statute of Limitations in Illinois

by Levin & Perconti

Patients put a lot of trust in the abilities of their physicians. They expect their doctors to act with professional expertise and provide the utmost level of treatment. When this expectation is not met, the patient may face serious injuries and even more questions. Though you may know something went wrong and suspect that your physician is at fault, you may not understand your rights or the correct course of action to assert them. Your many concerns may include the statute of limitations. While many people are familiar with the term, most individuals are clueless about how it affects their individual circumstances.

The statute of limitations is the time limit that the law places on a person to pursue a legal claim. The reasons for these laws include:

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February 19, 2015

Musical Therapy for Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

Immediate action is vital to the successful treatment of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). As soon as the causing event occurs, damage begins spreading throughout the brain, leading to increased risk for more serious injury, or even death. Recent reports are discussing a new treatment option that is showing some optimistic results.

The technical magazine, Xconomy, is reporting that music is the latest tool in the fight against brain injury complications. A new Boston-based company is reportedly leading the initiative with an innovative specialization called Neurological Music Therapy (NMT).

How it Works

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February 12, 2015

Longer Recovery for Hockey-Related Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) incidents are commonly in the news, especially in relation to the game of football. The National Football League, along with the National Collegiate Athletic Association, are both facing multi million-dollar civil lawsuits from current and former players regarding the risks and consequences of TBIs. These concerns translated into precautionary programs for little league athletes who are just starting out in football. A recent Canadian study is focusing on the game of hockey and the risk of TBIs among the youngest players of the sport.

The Vancouver Sun is reporting on a new research paper about brain damage in hockey players with a history of concussions. The study used brain scans to examine adolescent athletes who are otherwise healthy. Researchers reportedly found disturbing changes to the brain, leading to the conclusion that concussions persist longer than previously believed.
Pediatric psychiatrist James Hudziak, the paper's co-author, is quoted in the article as stating, “We believe that injury to a developing brain may be more severe than injury to an adult brain.” As stated in the research paper, experts are well aware of the cognitive disorders and personality changes that can result from multiple concussions. This new study highlights the need for prevention among young hockey players.

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February 5, 2015

Super Bowl Injury Raises Questions About NFL Concussion Policies

by Levin & Perconti

This past weekend marked one of the most important events in all of professional athletes. Across the country, millions of fans watched the Seattle Seahawks and New England patriots battle for the Super bowl championship. As fans sat glued to their televisions, they winced as players collided with one another in a gladiator like fashion. There were a few injuries to witness, including a somewhat graphic incident that kept a Seahawk out of the game. But one particular collision left viewers and the media questioning the League's concussion policies and game protocol.

The Bleacher Report is reporting about a concussion scare that involved New England Patriot Julian Edelman. The incident occurred in the fourth quarter of the game, when Edelman was the subject of a jolting block by Seattle's Kam Chancellor. Following the hit, viewers watched as Edleman seemingly staggering around the field as he continued in the game. As stated in the article, several of his team members also noticed his unsteadiness and later made statements to the press in regards to it. In addition, social media exploded with tweets questioning his well being.

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January 29, 2015

Military Researchers Consider a New Type of Brain Injury

by Levin & Perconti

Each year, thousands of people die from brain injuries or the complications they cause. The Centers for Disease Control characterize traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) as a serious public health issue, occurring at a rate of about 2.5 million incidents each year. They generally occur when the head is jolted or bumped violently, which commonly happens during sports play, car accidents or physical attacks. For victims that survive their injuries, certain brain functions may become permanently impaired. TBIs range in seriousness from mild concussions to severe episodes of unconsciousness. Though TBIs affect individuals in different ways, new research suggests that affected military personnel may suffer from a previously undiagnosed type of TBI.

USA Today is reporting about a recent study regarding young soldiers who died after being caught in violent wartime blasts. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University studied the brains of five deceased soldiers who died between the ages of 23 and 38. Each of the individuals were survivors of one or more combat blasts, but died some time later. When studying the patterns of the brains, researchers reportedly found lesions that differed from those normally seen in brain injury cases. According to the report, the physicians described honeycomb patterns of damage, spread across various areas of the brain.

Vassilis Koliatsos is professor of pathology, neurology and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins. he co-authored the study and is quoted in the article as stating, "We saw a pattern that we had not seen before." He went on to explain that military troops have not been exposed to this level of repeated blasts since World War I, when the trenches where soldiers took cover were subjected to explosives and blasts repeatedly.

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January 22, 2015

More Information on Head Cooling to Treat Hypoxia

by Levin & Perconti

During birth, a lack of oxygen to the brain can lead to extensive developmental complications, including traumatic brain injuries and death. Crucial development occurs during the first stages of life and a healthy brain is essential to proper growth. A number of complications can lead to a lack of brain oxygen, or hypoxia in medical terms. The attending physician and medical staff should recognize the signs of hypoxia during or directly following the birth. When that occurs, certain treatments can lessen the extent of the injury and prevent further problems. Head cooling is one possible course of action and it is the subject of recent studies.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association investigated the best practices for head cooling treatments among infants. Head cooling occurs when the temperature of the brain is gradually cooled to a stage where its cells are at a resting point. After 72 hours, the cells are reportedly “woken up” without significant damage, which improves future neurodevelopment.

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