December 24, 2014

Soldiers and Athletes Fights Brain Injuries Together

by Levin & Perconti

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) are a major issue of concern within the medical community. These injuries can range from mild concussions to serious, debilitating conditions. The most common causes are falls, vehicle accidents and violent behaviors. Two professions rank high among the causes of TBIs. According to researchers, professional athletes and active duty military personnel experience brain injuries at significantly higher than normal rates.

Much has been done to address the issue of brain injuries among military soldiers, who are often impacted during active combat. Severe blows to the head, along with violent explosives leave these men and women with serious injuries. A recent report by ESPN discusses how military treatment efforts are now being expanded to include professional athletes, including members of the National Football League (NFL). Researchers hope that the new program will aid TBI recovery for both the participating soldiers and the athletes.

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December 19, 2014

Big Disappointment for TBI Treatment

by Levin & Perconti

The fight against traumatic brain injuries (TBI) took a disappointing blow recently, when a highly anticipated treatment showed no benefit for treatment. According to a report in Medscape Medical News, researchers were hopeful that the administration of progesterone immediately following a TBI would improve brain function and diminish long term effects. The prevalence of TBIs continues to grow within the United States, leading to deaths and long term disabilities. Researchers are diligently working to identify a viable treatment and previous studies led them to believe that progesterone was a strong possibility.

More than 200 laboratory studies have researched the administration of progesterone to treat brain injuries. Animal testing showed a reduction in cerebral edema, which is the accumulation of fluid within the spaces of the brain. The fluid retention causes the brain to swell, increasing pressure against the skull. When this occurs, blood flow can become restricted, leading to significant decreased functioning and possible death. Cerebral edema is a common condition among brain injury patients and a procedure to prevent or treat it would provide a major accomplishment in the fight against TBI damage.

The Study Details

Early phased human trials reportedly resulted in less fatalities and better functioning over time. This is what led to widespread excitement over the latest round of trials. According to the Medscape article, the first of two Phase Three trials were conducted in the following manner:

***Researchers expected to test 1140 patients with severe, moderate-to severe, or moderate acute TBIs.

***The average patient age was 35 years old

***Patients were randomly administered an intravenous dose of progesterone or placebo within 4 hours of the initial industry

***Doses were administered regularly for 96 hours after injury

The study was halted short of the anticipated 1140 enrollment number due to what the article characterized as “futility in achieving the primary outcome”. The reported outcomes included:

***When compared to the placebo group, the progesterone groups showed minimal significance

***The progesterone group also exhibited a higher rate of phlebitis, which is vein inflammation

A second Phase Three trial was also undertaken, including 1195 patients between the ages of 16 and 70 years old. Doses of progesterone and placebo were administered within 8 hours of injury, continuing for 120 hours. No significant improvement was exemplified in the progesterone-treated patients, when compared to the placebo group. According to the report, there was also little difference in the rate mortality between the groups.

Dr. W. Wright, who authored the study, characterized the study results as “a stunning disappointment.” He further stated, “ Over 200 positive published studies in multiple laboratories, two pilot clinical trials, prompted immense enthusiasm for this study to finally [offer a] breakthrough and provide a positive treatment for traumatic brain injury.”

If you or a loved suffers with a severe brain injury at the hands of another, contact the experienced attorneys today.

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New Blood Test May Diagnose TBIs

The Facts: Brain Injuries and Female Athletes

December 12, 2014

New Blood Test May Diagnose TBIs

by Levin & Perconti

The diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) is a major health concern within the American medical community. According to the Brain Trauma Foundation, about 52,000 fatalities occur each year as a result of TBIs. In addition, more than 5 million Americans are currently living with TBI-related disabilities. The Foundation also reports that TBIs are associated with a significant increase in Alzheimer's disease risks. It is a serious problem that sends millions of injured individuals to the emergency room each year. Though there are numerous causes of TBIs, sports related injuries are among the most common. The problem is continuously growing, with increased incidents reported annually.

The severity of traumatic brain injuries makes early diagnosis even more vital. Towards that end, doctors and researchers are constantly looking for innovative methods to identify the condition at its earliest stage. A recent report in the Star Tribune discusses a new process of diagnosis that researchers find promising. They have reportedly spent decades searching for a blood test that adequately indicated the presence of a concussion, as well as its severity.

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December 5, 2014

The Facts: Brain Injuries and Female Athletes

by Levin & Perconti

Brain injuries are serious conditions, spanning from mild concussions to debilitating brain damage. Their recent prevalence in the media has called attention to the dangers of brain injury and the risk that is inherently involved in sports like football and boxing. The National Football is dealing with a major brain injury related lawsuit, as is the National Collegiate Athletic Association. But recent reports are highlighting the serious reality that brain injuries are not limited to males.

According to a report by NBC News, young women may be more likely to suffer from brain injuries than their male counterparts. Of the millions of concussions reported each year, at least a third of them are experienced by females. This is causing researchers to take a serious look into the dangers of female-dominated sports. Female soccer players reportedly have a 68 percent higher chance of developing a concussion than male soccer players. Among all sports played by both genders, females develop concussions twice as often.

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November 26, 2014

Brain Injuries Linked to Drug Use in Teens

by Levin & Perconti

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are linked to a variety of negative behaviors and circumstances. Studies have found connections between these conditions and the development of dementia, as well as incarceration rates. Researchers recently undertook a new study to examine a possible connection between traumatic head injuries and drug use. They concluded that teenagers with TBIs are between two and four times more likely to use illegal drugs than those with no history of brain injury.

The research was published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation and featured in an article by the medical website, Health Canal. The study reportedly examined drug use among more than 6,000 Canadian students in ninth through twelfth grades. Students were given a survey, which questioned them about their drug use and history of traumatic brain injury. For the purposes of the study, TBIs were reportedly defined as a strike to the head leading to a knockout of at least five minutes or a night in the hospital for treatment of side effects related to the brain injury. While the survey was able to document links between the two, it did not provide information about whether the drug use or TBI occurred first.

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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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