April 18, 2014

Brain Scan Could Lessen Misdiagnosis Among Comatose Patients

by Levin & Perconti

A recent study by European doctors may heighten the level of care that physicians must provide patients who are comatose due to a brain injury. According to an article by the London National Health Service, a four year hospital trial found that a brain scan could identify which patients were likely to wake up from their coma. Positron emission tomography, also called PET, is a specific type of brain scanning technology. With it, doctors were able to identify “hidden levels of consciousness” within the brains of a third of the patients studied.

The trial reportedly involved 126 patients. Of those patients, 41 of them were previously classified in a persistent vegetative state. Doctors, using the PET scan, determined that 13 patients demonstrated some consciousness, leading to the conclusion that they were misdiagnosed by their previous physicians. Out of the 13, nine came out of a coma within one year of the study. Three died from unrelated complications and one remained comatose. This reflects an accuracy rate of 74% compared to a 56% accuracy rate for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is most commonly utilized.

PET scans are commonly used for cancer patients, but not in the area of brain injuries. They are completed with injections of radioactive tracer, which create 3D images of activity within the cells. Alternatively, MRI scans demonstrate the level of blood flow within the brain. This blood flow alerts doctors to brain activity. According to the article, PET technology is expensive and challenging to use, but scientists hope that these types of findings will assist in making them more financially accessible and easier to use.

Why Does This Matter to Patients
The article discusses the potential problems with misdiagnosis of these vulnerable brain injury patients. There are ethical concerns to consider, regarding pain management and the continuation of life preserving measures by treating physicians. The study differentiated between patients in a persistent vegetative state and patients in a coma. Comatose patients demonstrate a sleep/wake cycle, but no signs of awareness. While people in a persistent vegetative state show varying levels of awareness and some stimuli reactions. According to researchers, comatose patients likely feel pain and would benefit from pain medications. Additionally, their likelihood of recovery is higher than patients in a persistent vegetative state.

Professor Steven Laureys led the study. He concluded that doctors are not properly conducting bedside diagnostic tests. He went on to state, “Unfortunately these patients are kind of neglected by medicine and society as a whole. He (the patient) often has not seen a medical doctor or specialist for years.” Comatose patients have a right to adequate treatment, just like any other patient. Their inability to speak for themselves can make them susceptible to inadequate care. If they are being denied proper provisions, due to misdiagnosis, there may be legal liability for the physicians.

If your loved one is comatose and you believe that they are not receiving proper care, contact an experienced brain injury lawyer. The attorneys of Levin & Perconti have the knowledge and skill, to aggressively advocate for your loved one.

See Related Posts:

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Interview with Brain Injury Treatment Researcher

April 7, 2014

New Study Suggests Link Between Brain Injuries and Socialization in Children

by Levin & Perconti

A recent study by a group of Brigham Young University researchers suggests that traumatic brain injuries in children may lead to decreased social skills. The findings, which were published in the April 10 issue of Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, focused on a group of adolescents who suffered brain injuries three years prior. The majority were involved in automobile accidents when their injuries were sustained. Researchers observed that a number of the children had a difficult time interacting with their peers in social surroundings. According to the study, children with remaining damage to the frontal lobe of the brain were more likely to demonstrate a diminished level of socialization. Researchers did not conclude that the injury caused the lack of social skills, but they do suspect some level of association.

Shawn Gale is the author of the findings. She explained that these children have a particularly difficult time because their injuries are not apparent to others. Physically, their appearance does not notify others to the damage that occurred inside of their brains. Therefore, when they are forgetful or unfocused, they are not afforded much consideration or patience from their peers.

According to the study, researchers believe that cognitive proficiency provides a viable explanation. Cognitive proficiency is the linking of brain-processing speed with short-term memory. Study authors explain that, when socially interacting with others, the brain must process verbal and nonverbal cues at the same time. The brain then has to remember what was processed, while developing an appropriate response. Problems with the memory or processing aspects of this procedure lead to social complications.

TBI Childhood Statistics

Traumatic brain injuries are the leading causes of death and disability among children, according to the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA). Approximately 62,000 children, between the ages of 0 and 19, are hospitalized each year due to injury to the brain. Hospital emergency rooms reportedly see and release an average of 564,000 children for brain injuries each year.

Among children, traumatic brain injuries can manifest themselves in a number of different symptoms. Physical impairments may include:

-Speech impediments
-Headaches
-Hearing difficulties
-Seizures
-Poor motor coordination

Examples of cognitive impairments include:

-Short term memory loss
-Limited attention span
-Decreased writing abilities
-Demonstrating poor judgment

As explained in the Brigham Young study, brain injuries in children also manifest with emotional impairments, including:

-Mood swings
-Low self esteem
-Lack of motivation
-Anxiety

According to the BIAA, treatment of traumatic brain injuries in children differs substantially from treatment in adults. The brain of a child is not fully developed and an injury can have a devastating effect, interrupting the cognitive development. These impairments become obvious as the child ages and has an increased need to act in a socially acceptable manner. As stated on the BIAA website, “ These delayed effects can create lifetime challenges for living and learning.”

Brain injuries are serious matters with lasting effects. If the actions of another caused your child's traumatic brain injury, contact Levin & Perconti for a free consultation.

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April 5, 2014

MMA Fighters at Risk of Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

A recent recent study by a group of University of Toronto researchers asserts that mixed martial arts (MMA) is potentially more hazardous to the brain than boxing. Mixed martial arts combines numerous fighting styles into one match. Participants utilize movements and techniques from judo, wrestling and kick-boxing inside of a ring enclosure. No headgear is worn during these matches. According to the study, about one-third of all MMA bouts end with a knockout. Researchers explain that, after reviewing more than 800 fights between 2006 and 2012, they concluded that 13% ended with the winner knocking out the opponent, while 21% ended due to technical knockouts, where the referee stops the fight. based on the condition of the losing fighter. These knockouts reportedly resulted from numerous, repetitive blows to the head at the very end of the fight.

UFC's Response to the Findings
The United Fighting Championship (UFC) is the major branding agent of MMA. Its chief operating officer, Lawrence Epstein reportedly criticized the study as being “somewhat flawed.” arguing that MMA is actually safer than boxing, with numerous protective measures in place for fighter safety. UFC officials assert that no MMA fights have ended in death or traumatic brain injury. According to an NBC news report, the organization is currently pursuing a New York state license to sponsor MMA fights within the state. Currently, New York prohibits all MMA fights. It is the only state in the country that takes this strict stance. Most states have created regulations to govern the fights, while many take no stance on the fights at all.

According to the article, the Cleveland Clinic is also working on an MMA study, with the participation of almost 400 current and former fighters. The Cleveland study will look at the safety of the sport itself, but its researchers are also considering several contributing factors to evaluate whether some participants are predisposed to concussions. Genetics and head trauma exposure will be reviewed, in addition to the number and frequency of fights. Mixed martial arts is growing in participation and popularity. Among the many new fighters to the sport are a large number of children. This increase in youth participation raises concerns, with some researchers asserting that child fighters are at serious risk of brain injury and should not participate in the sport.

MMA Regulation within Illinois
In Illinois, MMA fighting is regulated by the Illinois State Athletic Commission. The organization has developed regulations for both amateur and professional matches within the state. The rules include weight categories for the fight matches and equipment standards. They also govern how the bouts are scored and what fighting actions are considered illegal. The regulations for professional fights include mandatory fitness determinations for participants. They must submit results of a physician's examination, including blood work, EKG and MRI brain scan results. When these rules are not followed, and head injuries result, MMA officials may be criminally liable.

If you or a family member have recently suffered a brain injury, call an experienced attorney for a free consultation.

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Illinois Brain Injury Case Successes
Researchers Find That Enzymes Play Key Role in Brain Injury

March 28, 2014

Recent Collapse of Navy Football Player Not Caused by Player Contact

by Levin & Perconti

The recent collapse of Navy running back, Will McKamey, left many with the assumption that a violent tackle left another talented football player with a traumatic brain injury. However, recent reports by his parents suggest that the injury occurred during a non-contact drill, that did not involve any tackling. According to an article in the Baltimore Sun, McKamey, who is a sophomore from Tennessee, fell to the ground on the practice field. He had to be taken by helicopter to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he has remained in a coma since undergoing surgery on Monday.

In response to widespread concern about the Navy athlete, his parents authored an email, which was distributed by the school's athletic department. In the message, they explained that the injury occurred during one of the first spring practices, where there is typically no physical contact between the players. The email also asserted that Navy football coaches carefully reviewed footage of the entire practice and found no evidence of trauma to McKamey's person.

According to the report, the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board often requires Navy athletes to sign a waiver before being allowed to participate in football. Though it is not known whether McKamey's parents signed one of these forms, sources reportedly state that it is likely, especially considering the fact that he suffered two brain injuries during his senior year in high school. Regardless of his challenges, McKamey was named “Mr. Football” for the state of Tennessee in 2012. This latest injury is the third that he has suffered in only 18 months.

Prevention and Monitoring
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises coaches and parents to keep track of player head injuries through out the season. According to the report, athletes with multiple concussions should be medically evaluated before and during the season. Neurocognitive tests, also called baseline tests, can be done at the beginning of the season to determine normal brain functioning. The tests are completed using memory assessments, problem solving skills and concentration evaluations. These tests can be conducted again, in response to any concussions that occur during the season. This not only assists with prevention, but it also creates a system to continuously monitor the health of players.

McKamey's family asserts that he was medically cleared following his last brain injury in high school. According to the family statement, McKamey was “seen by four different neurosurgeons, and had 4-6 CAT scans and MRI’s to rule out any issue and clear him for contact.” The Navy athletic department is also speaking about McKemay's fitness to play, reportedly stating that he would not have been purposely placed in a dangerous situation. Officials assert that the reasons behind McKamey's injuries are completely unknown.

If you or your athlete has recently suffered a brain injury, you should speak with an experienced brain injury attorney. The attorneys of Levin & Perconti have the knowledge and skill, to aggressively advocate for you and your athlete to pursue compensation.

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March 21, 2014

Helmet Maker Not Liable for High School Player Brain Injury

by Levin & Perconti

Four years ago a teen was playing high school football for Pomona High School in California. During a game, the young man was involved in a play where he and another player struck one another helmet-to-helmet. The tackle left him partially paralyzed, with brain damage. On behalf of the player, who was 17-years-old at the time, his family filed suit against Ridell Revolution, the makers of the helmet that was worn by the young man at the time of the accident. According to Fox Sports, the plaintiff's attorneys argued that the company did not use the best materials when manufacturing the helmet. They reportedly asserted that “a high density vinyl nitrile padding would have provided more protection than the helmet's polyeurethane material,” lessening Acuna's injuries.

According to the Los Angeles Daily News, attorneys for Ridell counter-argued that their helmets out-perform all safety standards worldwide. They reportedly stated that vinyl nitrate padding is less safe than the polyeurethane material that is currently utilized. The company’s attorney stated that the company is “never going to put that padding in our helmets.” They also argued that the teen’s injuries were not a result of the actual hit, but were instead caused by a violent turn of his head during the play.

The young man’s brain injuries are irreversible. The Los Angeles Daily News reported that he ran to the sideline of the football field after the tackle. He then collapsed onto the ground and lost consciousness. He was comatose for 11 days and spent an additional four and a half months in the hospital. According to his attorneys, he will need 24-hour care for the remainder of his life. They requested a jury award of $37 million for hospital expenses and lost wages, along with pain and suffering.

The Jury's Determination
After four weeks of testimony, it took the jury less than 30 minutes to conclude that the “Ridell Revolution helmet could not have been expected to prevent the injury.” Four members of the National Football League (NFL) have also sued Ridell, asserting that the company worked with NFL officials to cover up information about brain injuries within the league. That lawsuit is still in litigation. The Ridell Revolution website contains a warning for potential buyers of their helmet, which reads that "no helmet can prevent serious head or neck injuries a player might receive while participating in football."

Football Concerns
Concerns within the professional football league have also spread to the college, high school and recreation league levels. Many school systems now require parents to attend information sessions on brain injuries and concussions. There is a widespread effort to educate players, coaches and parents about the potential dangers of football and important tactics for prevention. According to a report by National Public Radio, football helmets are important tools of protection because they spread the force of an impact to the head. However, helmets are not perfect in their design. While they protect the skull from breaking, they do not fully prevent the brain from moving around inside of the skull.

If you or a child has suffered a brain injury, please do not hesitate to contact Levin & Perconti at to discuss your case.

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March 12, 2014

A Closer Look At Less Severe TBI

by Levin & Perconti

Traumatic brain injuries comes in many different forms. The most severe TBIs often cause immense and permanent physical damage. They are frequently accompanied by other outward signs of injuries--broken bones, muscle tears, cuts, and more.

Less severe TBIs (though not necessarily “mild”) are often harder to diagnose and understand. The symptoms may be more nuanced and those affected frequently show no other major signs of injury. But even these brain injuries can greatly impact one’s life.

The Medical Complexities
In any negligence case arising from an accident where one suffers a TBI, it is important for medical professionals to explain the injuries in detail. As a legal matter, this is often critical in determining the full scope of damages, attempting to understand how the injury will affect one’s life and what resources are necessary to recover. In some cases, parties may contest that a serious injury was suffered at all.

A Med Visuals post from last week offers a helpful primer on some of the complexities affecting less severe TBIs. The report notes that these TBIs are often only identified by those who knew the victim well before the accident and can identify moods, behaviors, personality changes, or other quirks indicating that indicate something is amiss. The harm often does not even show up on MRI or CT scans.

However, just because the injury does not show up on scans does not mean that it is not physically real. For example, the story notes that most less severe TBIs involve “shearing:” town, twisted, or severed axons in the brain. These “axonal” injuries are most common when a head strikes a hard object--like in a car collision--or when one is jostled and the brain slams up against the inside of the skull.

The post includes a helpful video that demonstrates the “shockwave” effect that is common in these incidents. Sudden stops or unexpected acceleration can cause the contact with the force working its way across the brain, causing shearing damage to axons along the way.

In addition to the axons, blood vessels can also be damaged in these situations. Blood damage harm in the brain in not to be taken lightly, as bleeding on the brain can develop into severe, even life-threatening complications.

Major brain bleeding or hemorrhages can be detected as lesions on MRIs or CT scans. And virtually anytime that a there is blood vessel damage there will corresponding damage to nearby axons. However, axons can be damaged even when the blood vessel is intact. In other words, this is how serious axonal damage can be present even when a scan does not show any lesions.

When Carelessness is the Cause - TBI Lawsuits
From car accidents to falls in a nursing home and everything in between, TBIs affect residents in Chicagoland each and every day. If you or a loved one suffers a brain injury of any severity and it was caused in whole or in part by the carelessness of another, you may have legal rights to recover for your losses.

See Related Blog Posts:

What is a Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Claims?

Scary Statistics on Medical Malpractice

March 5, 2014

Tragedy on the Water - Four Year Old Dies in Norwegian Breakaway Pool

by Levin & Perconti

Drowning injuries are the most tragic of accidents because they often strike the youngest among us and occur in the very moment when families are enjoyed rest and relaxation. Whether an accident strikes in a hotel, apartment complex, water park, or cruise ship, the tragedy is always acute and questions must be asked to ensure future injuries are avoided. Brain injuries are the most common harm that comes with drowning and near-drowning because oxygen is deprived to the organ while under water.

Unfortunately, stories continue to emerge of drowning deaths and near-drowning across the country. For example, just this week, the Daily Mail reported on a cruise ship drowning tragedy affecting a family on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship.

Norwegian Drowning Accident
The details of the event remain unclear, as investigators continue their work into the matter. What is known so far is that two children were found unresponsive inside a swimming pool on a ship known as Norwegian Breakaway. As soon as they were spotted, emergency workers were called who performed CPR on the youngsters.

One of the children, a six year old, was apparently saved before being flown to a hospital. However, rescue workers were unable to revive the second child, a four year old boy.

Norwegian Cruise Lines acknowledged the tragedy on the company Facebook page, but other details about the event are unclear. Early reports do suggest that the children were found in an “adult” pool on board the new vessel.

It has yet to be determined if the children were related, how they both ended up in trouble, and whether anything about the pool’s condition may have contributed to the tragedy. Also, observers are still determining whether overcrowding or the general unsafe design of the pool space itself may have factored into the situation.

Cruise Line Pool Drowning Liability
Pool safety advocates are constantly reminding owners and operators of pools and aquatic spaces of the inherent risks. There is simply zero room for error when it comes to issues like proper water clarity, warning signage, access to emergency equipment, and similar protection measures.

It is incumbent upon all those involved to leave no stone unturned when figuring out exactly what happened in this Norwegian cruise case. If negligence of any kind played a role--as it often does--then it is important for the families to demand accountability. Drowning attorneys with experience in these accidents can explain the common legal ramifications and ensure a full investigation is actually conducted to ensure redress. It is only with those harmed press forward that real changes are made to prevent future tragedies.

February 28, 2014

TBI - Back to the Basics

by Levin & Perconti

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury is caused when an outside force, such as a blow to the head, damages the skull, or causes the brain to move inside the skull, in turn damaging the brain.

Some brain injuries cause focal, or localized, damage, such as when a bullet enters the brain. Closed brain injuries cause diffuse brain damage, or damage to several areas of the brain. In some instances, both sides of the brain can be damaged, and nerves spread throughout the brain, in what is called diffuse axonal injury (DAI).

How Are Traumatic Brain Injuries Caused?

According to the CDC, the leading causes of traumatic brain injury are:

Falls (35.2%)
Motor vehicle/traffic accidents (17.3%)
Being struck by/against something (16.5%)
Assaults (10%)

Every year in the U.S., almost 1.5 million people are afflicted by, and 50,000 people die from, some sort of brain injury. In addition, around 5.3 million continue to suffer from its effects. The annual cost of brain injury is somewhere between $48-60 billion in medical bills and lost productivity.

What are The Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the physical symptoms of a traumatic brain injury include:

Fatigue
Problems sleeping
Headaches
Chronic pain
Changes in body temperature
Hormonal changes
Dizziness
Seizures
Difficulties with balance
Changes in the five senses (touch, smell, taste, vision, hearing)

Intellectual symptoms can be:

Difficulty reading
Memory problems
Difficulty paying attention
Easily misunderstanding information
Difficulty with organization and problem-solving
Peseveration, or getting ‘stuck’ on thoughts and actions

Social difficulties include noticeable changes in personality and anger control (such as verbal outbursts and physical aggression), while emotional changes include anxiety, depression and drug and alcohol abuse.

A mild brain injury can be temporary, and cause symptoms such as headaches, confusion, memory problems and nausea. In a moderate brain injury, such symptoms are more pronounced, although in both cases patients make a good recovery. About 15% of patients with moderate brain injury symptoms have persistent problems after one year.

More severe brain injury can cause life-changing and debilitating problems. Some victims may end up in a coma or in minimally responsive states.

Delayed Symptoms

A traumatic brain injury isn’t always immediately noticeable. For some patients, problems might not be seen for a few days, months or even years after the injury.

In children, this is sometimes because the child has not yet ‘grown into’ a brain injury – in other words, begun making demands on the brain (such as reading) that are affected by the injury. In adults, this may be because the adult has not yet returned to a normal routine. For example, a lawyer who spends a month at home recovering from head trauma might not notice changes in his brain function until after he returns to practice, and finds that parts of his job have become much more difficult, or impossible, to do.

As you can see, traumatic brain injury is serious and sometimes difficult to detect. If you believe you or a loved one has suffered from a brain injury as a result of an accident or someone else’s negligence, act quickly so the brain injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti (877-347-1417) can help you seek compensation for the injury you suffered and reimbursement for the medical costs you incur.

See Our Other Blog Posts:

Brain Injury Sparks National Debate

New Collaborative Brain Injury Concussion Research

February 18, 2014

Illinois Brain Injury Case Successes

by Levin & Perconti

Levin & Perconti has proudly advocated for plaintiffs in brain injury cases in Chicago-area courts for decades now, and the firm possesses over 130 collective years of experience with brain injury cases.

We would like to share the stories of some of our previous clients and their individual successes at seeking justice. All of the following Levin & Perconti cases have been published in the National Jury Verdict Review & Analysis.

Heflin v. Stammich Management

In 2007, a young man, Mr. Heflin, was attending a party at his girlfriend’s apartment in the Lincoln Park district of Chicago, Illinois. While leaning against the balcony railing of the second-story apartment, Mr. Heflin fell and incurred traumatic brain injuries when his head hit the pavement. He passed away seven months later due to the brain injuries. His mother filed a wrongful death suit against Stammich Management, the apartment building’s owner, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Ms. Heflin alleged that Stammich Management violated Chicago building code by installing railings that were only 32 inches high, 10 inches shorter than the required 42 inches. Levin & Perconti represented Ms. Heflin, the plaintiff, and argued that the fall would not have occurred if the rails had met the required height. Levin & Perconti settled with attorneys for Stammich Management during pretrial mediation for $975,000.

Gadomski v. Minnis

A pedestrian female, Ms. Gadomski, was walking through a parking garage when the defendant struck her with his car while backing out of a parking space. Ms. Gadomski incurred a traumatic brain injury, along with a life-long speech impairment and loss of quality of life. Ms. Gadomski sued defendant Minnis for negligence. Levin & Perconti represented the plaintiff in Illinois state court in 2008 and argued that Mr. Minnis failed to keep a proper look out, was negligent while backing out of a parking space, and did not yield to the pedestrian. Levin & Perconti settled with attorneys for Mr. Minnis during pretrial mediation for $1,850,000, including past medical expenses.

Carroll v. Geils Farms

In 2008, the Carrolls were driving on Interstate 47 in Kane County, Illinois. An employee of Geils Farms was also driving a semi-truck on Interstate 47 directly behind the Carrolls’ car. When the Carrolls slowed down to an eventual stop due to traffic, the Geils Farm truck rear-ended the Carrolls’ car.

One Carroll family member died in the crash. Another Carroll family member suffered traumatic brain injuries, including bilateral brain contusions, as well as various fractures, while another Carroll family member suffered a brain injury and fractures.

The Carrolls brough suit against Geils Farms for negligence. Levin & Perconti represented the plaintiffs in this matter. Our team argued that the Geils Farms driver:

· Drove too fast
· Was intoxicated
· Followed the Carrolls too closely
· Did not maintain a proper lookout
· Did not maintain control of his vehicle
· Did not use his horn
· Did not pump his brakes in time
· Did not turn to avoid a crash
· Did not inspect and maintain the brakes

We also argued that Geils Farms was negligent in hiring the driver. The parties settled during pretrial mediation for $5 million for the injuries and wrongful death. This settlement set a Kane County record.

If you or a loved one has incurred a traumatic brain injury due to the negligence of another, please contact Levin & Perconti to discuss your options today.

See Our Other Blog Posts:

Distracted Driving, Car Accidents, & Brain Injuries

Severe Car Accident Brain Injury Results in $2.3 Million Jury Verdict

February 11, 2014

Research Shows EGF Growth Factor Can Heal Some Brain Injuries in Preemies

by Levin & Perconti

Researchers working with epidermal growth factor, or EGF, a naturally occurring substance, have found that, when administered soon after a birth injury, EGF can reverse various types of brain injuries that occur commonly in premature infants.

The most common birth injuries among premature infants are caused by lack of oxygen. In fact, tens of thousands of preemies each year suffer brain injuries due to oxygen deprivation. Many of these birth injuries include cerebral palsy or perinatal hypoxia.

Oxygen deprivation is common among premature infants because very premature babies – those born before the 32nd week of pregnancy – have underdeveloped lungs and blood cells. The lungs and blood cells are not yet capable of delivering adequate amounts of oxygen to the preemie’s brain following delivery. This leads to oxygen deprivation, and oxygen deprivation leads to the death of brain cells. Even though these preemies are hooked up to oxygen while in intensive care, they still suffer brain cell death.

The most common form of brain cell killed by oxygen deprivation is the oligodendrocyte. This type of brain cell wraps around and insulates the nerve fibers in a structure known as myelin. Deteriorated or non-existent myelin causes issues with nerve cells sending and receiving messages. While the brains of premature infants attempt to repair dead or injured brain cells, this process begins too late, and by then, often times important motor functions are already impaired.

Researchers working with EGF began experimenting with mice. These researchers hypothesized that EGF could start this repair process sooner and found that, in mice, EGF did speed up the repair process.

Researchers administered repeated doses of EGF to the mice through the nose. After several treatments, the mice who received the EGF were identical to the mice who did not have any injuries.

The researchers believe that this process will work with premature infants, though based on their findings, they believe that premature infants must receive treatment within a few weeks of birth in order for it to be effective. Otherwise, the EGF will have been received too late to help repair the damaged or dead myelin cells. In addition, because the researchers saw success with intra-nasal treatments with the mice, they hope that EGF will be as easy and as effective to administer through human noses.

Because of the dangers of testing on human subjects, as well as restrictions and regulations, the researchers plan on first testing EGF on adults before trying it out on premature infants. The researchers hope to test EGF and other similar growth factors first on adults with multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis also involves damaged or dead myelin, and researchers hope that if the growth treatment is successful with multiple sclerosis adults in generating myelin, it will be successful among premature infants as well. Researchers also hope to experiment with other growth factors as well.

If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic birth injury, either due to oxygen deprivation or other birth complication, please do not hesitate to contact Levin & Perconti to discuss your options.

See Our Other Blog Posts:

Federal Government Finds That Researchers Did Not Properly Inform Parents of Risks to Their Premature Babies

Cerebral Palsy Linked to Increased Autism Risk

February 4, 2014

NFL Update – Judge Says $765M Settlement Is Not Enough

by Levin & Perconti

We have been following the NFL concussion class action closely, and recently, the NFL and approximately 4,800 former players agreed to a $765 million settlement. This settlement needs the approval of the presiding judge, U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody. However, on Tuesday, January 14, 2014, Judge Brody said that $765 million might not be enough to compensate the players.

According to Judge Brody, who wrote an opinion for the Philadelphia federal court, “I am primarily concerned that not all retired NFL football players who ultimately receive a qualifying diagnosis, or their related claimants, will be paid.”

Judge Brody continued, “Even if only 10 percent of retired NFL football players eventually receive a qualifying diagnosis, it is difficult to see how the monetary award fund would have the funds available over its lifespan to pay all claimants at these significant award levels.”

The $765 million settlement as-is would provide individual players as much as $5 million for neurological issues and injuries. However, Judge Brody is concerned that $765 million would not cover enough players or provide enough money individually to fully cover medical costs and compensate players for their injuries. In addition, Judge Brody is concerned that the rules outlined in the settlement are too restrictive on which players are eligible.

Judge Brody, in her opinion, requested more financial details regarding the payout plan. According to the judge’s calculations, the payout plan could have been extended to cover up to 20,000 players for up to 65 years as more may come forward with complaints and injuries. Players with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) could receive up to $5 million, those with death involving a traumatic brain injury could receive $4 million, and those with dementia could receive $3 million. However, if the $765 million were divided among the 20,000 players equally, each player would receive only $38,000.

Players and lawyers representing the league agreed to the payout and believe it is just. They plan on providing the requested additional financial information to prove the deal is fair.

According to a statement provided by Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss, attorneys for the players, “We are confident that the settlement will be approved after the Court conducts its due diligence on the fairness and adequacy of the proposed agreement. Analysis from economists, actuaries and medical experts will confirm that the programs established by the settlement will be sufficiently funded to meet their obligations for all eligible retired players."

The league’s spokesman Brian McCarthy echoed this sentiment and plans to provide the court with more information to demonstrate that the settlement is fair.

Retired players filed the class action lawsuit in 2012. The lawsuit alleged that the NFL hid the risks and dangers of traumatic brain injuries. Recent years have seen increased headlines regarding brain injuries of famous pro football players, as well as the suicides of players. Medical research has shown that the types of hits suffered by the players can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, aggression, and dementia.

If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion or other brain injury due to the negligence of another, please contact Levin & Perconti today.

See Our Other Blog Posts:
Can a Single Football Season Cause Brain Damage?
New Book Argues Years of NFL Stalling on Brain Injuries

January 27, 2014

Victims Present at Boston Marathon Bombings May Have Unknown Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

On April 15, 2013, thousands of runners began the annual Boston Marathon with thousands of spectators lining the route to watch. Unbeknownst to authorities, runners, and spectators, two pressure cooker bombs were placed at the finish line on Boylston Street near Copley Square. The two explosions rocked the finished line at 2:49pm, killing 3 and injuring at least 264 others. The injured were treated at 27 different local hospitals.

Many of the individuals present at the scene of the explosions refused medical attention, stating that they only heard some residual ringing in their ears and felt fine enough to go home. The majority of patients treated in the hospitals were not treated for concussions but rather for shrapnel-related injuries. However, new research on explosions shows that many Boston Marathon victims may have experienced traumatic brain injuries without even realizing it.

Researchers conducting research on individuals present during explosions, such as during the Gulf War, initially seemed fine and unaffected by the explosions. However, later, these same individuals began displaying signs of traumatic brain injury, such as dementia. Research has shown that primary blast waves during explosions can cause concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries, even without a direct blow to the head. The injury itself is caused by the blast of wind that causes the head to swing back and forth rapidly.

In fact, during the Gulf War, over a quarter million individuals were diagnosed for traumatic brain injury simply due to blast waves. These soldiers developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy as a result of blast exposure. Researchers found that soldiers needed to be present at only a single explosion to experience these life-long brain injuries. This is the same type of injury incurred by NFL players during hard hits, which is the subject of multi-million dollar litigation in federal court.

Research has shown that blast-related traumatic brain injuries have similar but separate characteristics and side effects than regular traumatic brain injuries. However, early symptoms include vomiting and nausea, the inability to wake, dilated pupils, numb or weak limbs, restlessness, and confusion. Other signs of brain injuries post-explosion include ringing in the ears, headache, fatigue, poor concentration, PTSD symptoms such as depression or anxiety, lethargy, insomnia, dementia, and changes in mood.

Many individuals present at the Boston Marathon bombings may have experienced one or some of these symptoms and yet not realize they are inflicted with a traumatic brain injury. While some may fully recover in time, others will struggle with this chronic injury for the rest of their lives. It is crucial for anyone experiencing any of these symptoms to seek medical treatment. Traumatic brain injuries must be detected early and treated early. Medical treatment for blast-related traumatic brain injuries includes medication, surgery, and rehabilitation.

If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion or are currently experiencing any symptoms related to a brain injury, please seek immediate medical help. Levin & Perconti can help you investigate your case for negligence or malpractice and help you weigh your options.

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