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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August 20, 2014

Civil Litigation, Defective Safety Belts, and Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

Automobiles are a staple of American society. All across the country, people rely on their cars to keep their lives moving and handle their respective responsibilities. To promote auto safety, drivers and passengers depend on seat belts to protect them in the event of an accident. When these vital safety devices malfunction, death and injuries (like brain damage) can result. The victims of these occurrences deserve reimbursement for the pain and suffering that the product failure causes. Though automobile companies often try to mitigate the problem with massive recalls, legal actions are sometimes necessary to secure adequate compensation.

Recent Safety Belt Recalls

According to a recent report by MSN News, General Motors (GM) recently recalled more than 40,000 vehicles due to defective safety belts. This latest recall adds to the more than sixty recalls from GM in the last few years. The report explains that there is inadequate tension in the front seat belts, creating extra slack in the event of an accident. The belts were designed to tighten during a crash, in order to hold the driver and passengers firmly in place. Without proper tension, the belts are not as useful during an automobile accident. The company reportedly claims that the defect was discovered during crash testing.

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August 6, 2014

New Information Suggests Vacuums May Lessen the Effects of TBIs

by Levin & Perconti

Researchers at Wake Forest University are working on a new and innovative treatment for traumatic brain injuries. According to the study, which was published in the health journal Neurosurgery, careful applications of vacuum pressure can control further brain tissue damage following an injury. The process is called "mechanical tissue resuscitation" and its study is funded in part by the United States Army.

Presently, the research is conducted on swine with localized brain injuries. Physicians reportedly placed a low pressure vacuum over the infected areas of their brains and monitored the effects at varying levels of pressure and application times. According to the research report, the results showed that “applying 100 mm Hg of pressure for three days led to a significantly smaller area of brain contusion and reduced bleeding, compared to no pressure”. Researches further noted that the brains of the treated animals were closer to normal than those left untreated.After five days of consistent treatment, all of the treated animals survived. According to the study, the surviving animals showed no signs of deformations in the brain or the development of seizure activity. Researchers reportedly assert that these results stem from an increase in blood flow to the injured tissue. The vacuum pressure reportedly starts the process of oxygenation, when wastes are removed from the area and replaced with healing nutrients.

Mechanical tissue resuscitation is an evolution of the vacuum process, which is successfully used to treat other injuries. However, more research is reportedly necessary before the technique is tested on humans. Researchers state “The ability of mechanical tissue resuscitation to achieve meaningful reduction in loss of brain tissue and hemorrhage injury warrants further investigation.”

Types of TBI Treatment
Traumatic brain injuries are serious problems in today's society. They can result in long term disability and substantial mortality rates. Even after the initial injury, the condition can worsen due to the lack of circulation that causes “the accumulation of metabolites and water in the area of injury.” This leads to the degeneration of brain cells. In an attempt to lessen the immediate and long term effects of the condition, TBI is generally treated in three phases:

Acute Treatment – This occurs in the hospital immediately following the injury causing event. According to the website, brainandspinalcord.org, the main goal is stabilization during this phase. Life support tactics are implemented and surgery is performed as necessary.

Subacute Treatment – This step usually occurs at a specialized medical facility. The patient is screened for likelihood of recovery and an appropriate treatment plans is created. Subacute treatment can last from a few hours to numerous years.

Chronic Treatment – This step is necessary for patients who need long-term care in order to survive and have the best quality of life possible.

If it is eventually implemented, mechanical tissue resuscitation will likely become a tool used during subacute treatment phase..

If you or your loved one suffers from the effects of a traumatic brain injury, contact the experienced brain injury attorneys of Levin & Perconti at (877) 374-1417 for a free consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:

New Collaborative Brain Injury Concussion Research

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July 29, 2014

NCAA Reaches Concussion Settlement

by Levin & Perconti

The National Football League (NFL) is not the only sports organization to reach a concussion settlement agreement with players. As of this week, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is also reported to have a settlement. According to a report in USA Today, the college sports organization reached an agreement with the lawsuit plaintiffs just hours before a scheduled status hearing.

The first complaint was filed more than three years ago by four former players. Two of the complainants were former football players, while one was a soccer player and the fourth played hockey. Each of them reportedly claimed to suffer from headaches and depression. Some also asserted having seizures. Over the next few months, at least nine other lawsuits were reportedly filed. They each asserted that NCAA officials knowingly withheld information from student players about the risk of concussions, along with their long term effects. While the settlement does not provide specific damage awards for the original plaintiffs, it does allow each of them to bring their own personal injury complaints against the NCAA individually.

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July 25, 2014

New Study Underway to Lessen Brain Injury Effects

by Levin & Perconti

First response medical teams may soon possess a new tool in the race to prevent the serious effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). According to a report by WKRC News, a national drug trial is underway to test a new medication that is administered to accident victims before they even arrive at the hospital. Ten emergency medical systems around the country are currently testing tanexamic acid (TXA), to determine its effectiveness when used after serious accidents. Researchers expect to learn more about the benefits of the drug's administration in comparison to incidents where the drug is withheld.

TXA is reportedly a synthetic form of lysine, an amino acid. It is commonly used during surgeries to prevent life threatening amounts of blood loss. The military currently utilizes it as a regular form of treatment on the battlefield, along with several civilian hospitals. Though it is reportedly considered safe for use, its effectiveness against brain injury complications was never before studied. According to the article, traumatic brain injuries often involve bleeding within the head. The asserted rationale behind the study is that TXA can stop any bleeding that may be occurring.

Under the study, TXA is administered as soon as emergency response teams determine that a traumatic brain injury occurred. The drug is administered even if the patient is not conscious and unable to give consent. The federal government allows this to occur under specific drug trials, where an “exception from informed consent.” Participating states do offer residents an opt out option, which involves an arm bracelet to alert first responders.

Effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries

The purpose of the study is to prevent the long term effects of TBIs. From cognitive disabilities to death, TBI patients can face a variety of serious health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 30% of all injury related deaths in the United States are attributed to TBIs, causing more than 130 deaths each day.

Severe, but non-fatal brain injuries can lead to the following complications:

**Cognitive Functions – TBIs can negatively affect a patient's ability to recall information. Patient attention spans can also become diminished from the condition.

**Motor Functions – Patients may experience long-term difficulties with balance and encounter difficulties when conducting activities that require coordination. Extreme muscle weakness is another possible effect of a TBI.

**Sensations – All of the bodily senses can become negatively affected by TBI complications. Sight and vision can become impaired, as well as the sensation of touch.

**Emotions – TBI patients may also experience emotional complications, with feelings of depression and anxiety, as well as increased feelings of aggression and changes to the patient's personality.

The CDC explains that quick diagnosis and early management of the injury are vital to prevention of further complications.

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury at the hands of another, contact the experienced attorneys of Levin & Perconti today.

See Related Posts

A Possible Connection Between Brain Injury and Dementia

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July 19, 2014

New Study Suggests Long Term Effects of Mild Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

The effects of serious traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are well known and significantly documented. However, recent research is shedding light on the lesser known lasting effects of mild and moderate traumatic brain injuries. According to a report by Fox News, researchers determined that cognition and brain matter are impacted by these injuries as well. The study involved 86 participants in total, 44 with mild TBI, nine with moderate TBI and a healthy control group of 33 participants. All of the subjects were similarly situated in education and age.

The study started immediately following the date of injury, with a Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) scan completed within one week. The test is a type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that contrasts the brightness of collected images to determine the health of the brain. When looking at the images, a healthy brain's white area is 'very structured and orderly,” according to the report. Where there is damage to the brain, the images show variances in brightness.

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July 9, 2014

Judge Approves Preliminary Settlement in NFL Lawsuit

by Levin & Perconti

The concussion lawsuit against the National Football League (NFL) reached a milestone this week, as a federal judge approved a preliminary settlement. According to a report by CNN, the settlement agreement will provide neurological examinations for retired players who are deemed eligible. Monetary amounts will then be awarded in cases where the tests result in a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease or dementia. The settlement also reportedly includes provisions for the families of deceased players.

According to reports, the class action lawsuit includes thousands of former NFL players and accuses league professionals of purposely keeping valuable health related information from them. The complaint alleges that NFL executives knew about the negative effects of concussions and the substantial health risks involved in the sport of football. Despite knowledge of these risks, officials allegedly kept them from the players.

Changes to the Original Settlement

In January 2014, an initial settlement offer was denied in federal court. The judge found that the offered compensation of $765 million was insufficient to adequately address the overwhelming number of claims. Under the settlement agreement, current and former players

would have the opportunity for testing and a set amount of compensation from the settlement fund. Despite the large fund amount, critics saw it as a win for the owners and a blow to the injured players, noting that a lawsuit would likely result in a substantially higher penalty against the owners.

The problem was resolved with the new settlement offer. According to the CNN report, there is no maximum limit on the monetary amount of payment for claims. The settlement also guarantees continuous payment of all legitimate claims for 65 years. Under the agreement, $75 million will pay for the initial medical testing. Thereafter, retired players with five years of experience will receive $1.5 million to $5 million. The total amount depends on the age of the player and seriousness of the injury. Players with less experience will receive smaller compensation amounts. Though roughly 5,000 players are included in the lawsuit, the article asserts that nearly 20,000 players may prove eligible under the settlement. Additionally, league officials will also likely pay more than $1 million in legal fees.

According to a report in the New York Times, the settlement does not satisfy all of the involved players. Seven retired players objected to the proposed agreement, stating it falls short of protecting players who have already retired, including those who played with NFL Europe, which no longer exists. A fairness hearing on all issues and arguments will occur in November.

Football and Brain Injuries

The news is filled with stories about the connection between football and traumatic head injuries. The physical nature of the game often results in concussions, which is caused by sudden movements of the brain inside of the skull. Though the helmet is meant to protect the player from head injuries, accidents still occur and cause injury to the brain.

If you or your child has suffered from the effects of a sports related brain injury, contact the experienced brain injury attorneys of Levin & Perconti at (877) 374-1417 for a free consultation.

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July 2, 2014

Music Injury? Head Banging May Lead to Brain Damage

by Levin & Perconti

It turns out that the rock band Quiet Riot was possibly on to something when they sang, “Bang your head! Medal's gonna drive you mad!” While banging your head to your favorite hard rock artist may not drive you mad, according to recent reports, it can give you a traumatic brain injury. The US News and World Report is reporting that the head banging of a hard rock enthusiast led to a serious brain injury. The Motorhead fan arrived at a German hospital with complaints of increasingly painful headaches. At 50 years old, he reportedly had no medical history of head injury. He informed physicians that he was a regular head banger, who recently attended a concert with his son.

The doctor's conducted a head scan, which reportedly revealed a blood clot inside of the brain. The initial treatment involved removing the blood clot and allowing the blood to drain. In the months following, the man's headaches dissipated. During a follow-up visit, an additional scan showed a benign cyst. Doctors reportedly concluded that the cyst possibly increased his risk for brain injury and repeated head banging sealed the deal.

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June 25, 2014

A Possible Connection Between Brain Injury and Dementia

by Levin & Perconti

A new report suggests a link between traumatic brain injuries and dementia. According to an article by US News and World Report, veterans who have experienced a traumatic brain injury are more likely to develop dementia later in life. The study findings additionally state that these former soldiers are 60 times more likely to develop dementia earlier in life than their counterparts who have never been diagnosed with any brain injury.

The study involved the examination of 190,000 veterans, who were all free of dementia. The average age of the participants was 68-years-old. According to the report, 1,299 of these vets had a traumatic brain injury diagnosis. The participants were followed over a nine year period. During that time, researchers found that 16% of the veterans with brain injuries developed dementia, while only 10% of those without a brain injury developed dementia. The findings all showed that the brain injury subjects developed dementia at an average age of 78.5, while dementia did not set in for the other subjects until the average age of 81-years-old.

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June 20, 2014

The Connection Between Near-Drownings and Traumatic Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

The tragic deaths of four Illinois children not only places a spotlight on swimming fatalities, but also the serious injuries that can occur from swimming pool incidents. Every day, approximately 10 people die from drowning incidents, but experts estimate that the instances of near-drowning are significantly higher. For each fatal drowning incident, four additional hospitalizations reportedly occur, along with 14 additional visits to the emergency room. It only takes three minutes of submersion for a victim to lose consciousness and the brain begins to suffer from loss of oxygen at the five minute mark.

Traumatic brain injuries often occur as the result of a blunt force impact to the head. In a swimming accident, this can occur if the head is hit on a diving board or floor of the pool. However, brain injuries can also occur when there is a loss of oxygen or blood to the brain, which commonly occurs in near-drownings. These types of injuries include:

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