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Difficulty of Identifying Cognitive Function in Brain Injury Patients

When an Illinois brain injury is caused by the negligence of another, the injured individual can seek compensation for the harm caused. Often, the negligent party and the one harmed will reach an agreement on a fair amount of compensation without the need to go to trial. These settlements are helpful in that they save time and money while still allowing both sides to resolve the situation in a satisfactory manner.

However, there are times when a settlement cannot be reached. In those cases, the lawsuit proceeds to trial where a judge or jury hears the evidence and reaches a ruling. When the ruling is in the plaintiff’s favor, there is often a second phase to the legal matter. In that phase, more evidence is presented, however it only has to do with establishing the damage amount-not deciding liability or no liability. Each Illinois brain injury lawyer at our firm appreciates that it can be difficult to know for certain what resources a family will need as a result of the injury caused. This is because sometimes the long-term effects of brain injuries are sometimes hard to pinpoint.

The difficult in identifying the overall cognitive abilities of those who have an injured brain was the focus of an article at Health News Digest this week. The difficulty is most apparent in those with the most severe brain injuries. For example, researchers have found that for some, it takes the use of complex machine-learning programs in conjunction with repeated brain scans for doctors to determine with certainty whether a patient with a severe brain injury was capable of accurate communications. Essentially the issue is whether or not the patient can generate reliable brain activation patterns in response to stimuli. Sometimes this is thought of as the limbo between consciousness and unconsciousness. The entire area is still rife with uncertainty.

In short, the finding suggests that some patients unable to communicate with voice or gestures were still able to occasionally answer questions using mental imagery. Interestingly, some who could communicate were conversely unable to complete the mental tasks. This suggests that not all minimally conscious victims are the same and those in the “locked-in” state do not have the same cognitive functions.

These latest techniques at identifying cognitive function, while cumbersome, are seen as an improvement over earlier, less sophisticated methods. The head researcher explained that “the reanalysis with new, more sensitive methods provides evidence that the problem with communication may reflect a mismatch of our expectations in designing the assessment, rather than a failure on the subject’s part in an attempt to accurately communicate with us.”

Our Chicago brain injury attorneys understand that there is still much to learn when it comes to the abilities and limitations of those suffering cognitive injury. However, that does not mean that the amount of long-term care and extra help needed by the injured party (and the cost of those resources) cannot be determined with some accuracy. That is essentially what reaching a damage award is about. Over the years our legal professionals have gotten quite good at identifying and calculating the overall loss so that our clients receive as full compensation as possible.

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