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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June 11, 2014

Study Suggests Correlation Between Bike Sharing and Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

Bike sharing is taking the entire world by storm. Though the automobile alternative is relatively new to the United States, its history in several European countries dates back more than ten years. The programs work with rental bicycles that are maintained at rental stations throughout the city. Riders swipe a credit card to release the bikes from their locks. They are then charged an hourly rate for the bikes and they can return them to whichever rental station is closest to their destination. Some companies offer monthly subscriptions.

According to a report by Oregon Public Radio (OPR), as bike sharing extends into new cities, the rate of brain related injuries increases. American and Canadian researchers collaborated on a study to review the number of traumatic brain injuries in jurisdictions with bike sharing programs. They analyzed the number of emergency room head injury visits before and after the implementation of bike sharing programs. The study specifically looked at the cities of Washington DC, Minneapolis, Boston, Miami Beach and Montreal. Researchers reportedly documented a 14% increase in brain injury ER visits after bike sharing programs began.

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June 3, 2014

Dan Marino Joins the NFL Concussion Lawsuit

by Levin & Perconti

A huge legend in football recently added his name to the increasing list of players who are suing the National Football League over allegations that players were intentionally misled about the potential dangers of concussions and continuous injuries to the brain. According to a report by CNN, Dan Marino filed suit in a Philadelphia court last week. Fourteen other former players are also named in the legal complaint. Marino, who is 52-years-old, retired from the league in 1999 as a quarterback, following 17 seasons with the Miami Dolphins. The article calls him a “durable quarterback,” starting in 99 consecutive games at one point in his career. In 2005, he was inducted into the pro Football Hall of Fame.

The lawsuit alleges that, though NFL executives were knowledgeable about the effect of concussions on long term health and well-being, information about the risk was not provided to players. Each of the complaints included a written statement from the players, acknowledging that they suffer from a brain injury and briefly discussing some of the health related effects. While Marino's complaint does not list any specific injuries, it requests that the court award unspecified monetary damages, along with continuous monitoring of his health.

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May 30, 2014

White House Holds Summit on Sports Concussions

by Levin & Perconti

Sports related brain injuries are a constant source of national news lately. Now, the President of the United States is taking action with the first White House Summit on Sports Concussions. According to a report by the Washington Post, the Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit included a panel discussion by brain injury experts, Congressional members and various sports participants. More than 200 people reportedly participated in the day long event.

Former Washington Redskins linebacker LeVar Arrington was among the sports speakers at the conference. He reportedly informed the panel that he was always prepared and willing to continue in his games, even after suffering from a concussion. The Post article quotes him as saying that he even practiced what he would say to doctors in the event of a head injury, to increase the likelihood clearance to continue playing. According to a report by CNN, about 250,000 emergency room visits occur each year as a result of sport related brain injuries.

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May 20, 2014

Understanding the Financial & Emotional Costs of Traumatic Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

A traumatic brain injury can carry extensive costs associated with both immediate and long term care. Even if you are financially stable, with savings and an excellent health insurance plan, the cost of caring for a traumatic brain injury patient can place you in a challenging financial situation. The Brain Injury Institute discusses the financial, physical and emotional costs.

Financial Costs:

Loss of Income
**If the patient is able to return to work, he or she may find themselves unable to perform the work duties as before, resulting in employment that earns less income.
The patient may only work part time due to medical concerns, resulting in a loss of expected income.
**In the worst case scenario, the patient may lose the ability to work at all.
**This is not only applicable to the patient. The caregiver also has to sacrifice time away from work. In the short term, this may mean a temporary absence for a particular period of time. However, this becomes a long term consideration if the best plan of action for the patient entails a family member acting as the primary caregiver.
**For a child, a TBI may prohibit their ability to acquire a higher level of education, limiting their employment opportunities for the future.

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May 16, 2014

Skateboarding and the Risk of Brain Injury

by Levin & Perconti

The arrival of warm weather brings fun outdoor activities with it. For scores of teenagers that means hours of rolling around on skateboards and long boards. Just ride through virtually any suburb and you will find crowded skateboard parks, a group of kids sneaking in a ride through the local shopping center parking lot and a few kids riding down the middle of the neighborhood streets. Skateboarding is a widespread activity, enjoyed by teenage girls and boys alike. But along with the physical activity it provides, skateboarding also comes with possibilities of injury, including traumatic brain injuries.

What you don't see often enough when observing skateboarders are helmets. Even in jurisdictions where helmets are mandatory, many riders are not wearing them to their own detriment. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 130,000 skateboard injuries in 2010. Forty-six percent of those injuries occurred in children under the age of 15-years-old. When these accidents result in blows to the head, traumatic brain injuries can occur.

One particular study by Brigham Young University found that long boarding, which uses a longer and wider board, poses a particular risk of brain injuries. Researchers evaluated 824 injuries between 2006 and 2011. More than half of these incidents occurred on long boards and among them, there was a significantly higher risk of head fractures and traumatic brain injuries.

Even though medical professionals advise that helmets be worn when skateboarding, many states do not have statutes mandating their use. Illinois is one of them. Nevertheless, parents can still provide their children with proper safety equipment while skateboarding.

When choosing a helmet, the National Safety Council offers the following tips:

Look for a proper fit
Choose a helmet with a chin strap
Test whether the helmet blocks the rider's vision or hearing
Check the padding in the helmet
If the padding is too tight, it can restrict free movement of the head and affect circulation
If the padding is too loose, the helmet can move around, lessening its safety effectiveness.

Skateboard Accident Liability

Another issue of concern with skateboarding is the liability of the landowner. Under the legal theory of premises liability, if a skateboarding accident occurs on a person's land, that owner can be held liable for the injuries of the rider. This not only applies to private residences, but also to locations that are open to the public.

Proving liability is a challenge though and the assistance of an experienced attorney is vital. There are various immunity laws and provisions to overcome. In some states, skateboarding is classified as a “hazardous recreational activity”, which shields property owners from liability in specific situations. Skateboard parks are often owned by public entities, like the state or locality, which carries its own set of legal challenges. Though these facilities are largely unsupervised, they commonly post signs posted advising riders that they are using the ramps at their own risk.

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May 6, 2014

Trampoline Parks and the Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

With the school year coming to an end, parents will soon begin looking for activities to keep their children entertained and out of the house. Trampoline parks offer an afternoon of fun and physical activity in an indoor environment. Unfortunately, this recreation can also result in traumatic brain injuries to the children who enjoy them. According to recent news reports, injuries are common among trampoline users, including possible trauma to the head. Dr. Gary Smith works with the Child Injury Prevention Alliance. He is reported as stating, "Trampolines were designed as training devices, not as toys. The problem we are seeing with trampoline parks is that there is not enough supervision and they're not being used appropriately. There are unnecessary injuries occurring."

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, 16 ambulances were dispatched to a Chicago area trampoline park during the first half 2011. One girl reported falling on her neck, subsequently experiencing tingling in her arms and breathing problems. Smith calls the trampoline parks a progression from the backyard trampolines that became common backyard fixtures during the 1990s. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the number of trampoline injuries nearly tripled during that time, including 11 reported deaths. Many homeowner insurance companies even ban them or explicitly exclude trampoline injuries from coverage.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reportedly falls short of a recommendation against trampolines, instead promoting the importance of adequate supervision during use. However, the interpretation of adequate supervision is an issue of debate among the trampoline companies and parents of injured children.

Regulation and Litigation

Though you may think of a trampoline park in the same realm of an amusement park, there is a significant difference. Trampoline parks are generally unregulated at the state or federal levels. The Chicago Tribune article explains that this is because the recreation equipment does not involve any moving parts. This leaves safety standards to the local governments, where regulations can vary greatly from one jurisdiction to the next.

Though most trampoline parks require visitors to sign liability disclosures, there are still various pending lawsuits across the country. One pending Colorado lawsuit involves a little girl who was struck in the head by another child, knocking her unconscious. Another lawsuit asserts that the trampoline company was negligent in not supervising children, when a fight broke out on the trampolines and one child received an injury to the head.

Traumatic brain injuries are particularly dangerous in children. Mild traumatic brain injuries are caused by bumps or sudden jolts to the head that impair the brain from working properly. Severe traumatic brain injuries commonly result in death of permanent disability. These types of injuries may result from substantial movement of the brain within the skull or a foreign object penetrating the skull. Traumatic brain injuries among children are particularly concerning because the brain of a child is still developing and long term consequences may result, even from mild injuries.

If you or your child has suffered a trampoline related brain injury, contact the experienced attorneys at Levin & Perconti today.

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May 3, 2014

The Connection Between Brain Injuries and Homelessness

by Levin & Perconti

A recent study, published in the Huffington Post, suggests a link between traumatic brain injuries and homelessness. The study entailed surveys of 111 homeless men, between the ages of 27 and 81 years of age, selected from a male homeless shelter in Toronto, Canada. The researchers found that 45% of the men surveyed reported at least one traumatic brain injury in their life times, with 87% of those injuries occurring prior to the loss of shelter. The article points out that these numbers are particularly shocking in comparison to the general population, where traumatic brain injury occurrences are generally around 12%.

There are various degrees of traumatic brain injuries. For example, sports concussions are generally classified as mild to moderate. Severe traumatic brain injury occurs when the brain moves around within the skull or a foreign object causes injury to it. The severe injuries can cause victims to slip into comas or experience amnesia. These injury types can also reportedly result in impairments to cognitive and motor functions.

Most of the brain injuries experienced by study participants were mild or moderate in nature, occurring under various circumstances. Respondents over the age of 40 reported assault as the most common cause of injury, while those under 40 years of age reported that their injuries resulted from drug or alcohol abuse. When the total population of respondents was considered, sports injuries and car collisions were the most frequent causes.

In the article, the lead researcher explains that the findings only represent a possible link and not a direct causal connection, listing poverty and substance abuse as other factors contributing to homelessness. The study demonstrates that brain injuries may be among these other risk factors in predicting homelessness. Challenging the belief that people choose homelessness, history of a past traumatic brain injury may provide an alternative explanation.

A Warning About Brain Injuries in Youth
The researchers stated that the study provides a warning for parents of children with brain injuries. “There is a take-home message for parents,” one scientist stated. “If you're a parent of a teenager who may sustained a concussion or traumatic brain injury, for instance, be sure to watch for sudden dramatic changes in behavior or personality.” She acknowledged the difficulty in this task, due to the number of general changes to personality and behavior that occur during the teenage years. According to the article, these variations in teenagers are not easily traced back to a brain injury. Additionally, teenagers often do not inform their parents when they experienced an injury. Nonetheless, the researchers advises parents to continuously monitor the child's behavior.

This study is one of several recent studies to determine the link between teenage brain injuries and undesirable living situations later in life. Other recent studies examined the connection between traumatic brain injuries and incarceration.

If you or your has suffered from a traumatic brain injury, contact the experienced brain injury attorneys for a free consultation.

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