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Articles Posted in Brain Injury Detection

They are at it again. It seems like every day comes news of some small front-group for big interests trying to make hay about some evil that has been caused by community members exercising their right to the civil justice system. Sometimes medical malpractice lawsuits are the target, while at other times it is anyone who dares to seek accountability from a corporation whose rights are at stake.

No matter what, however, it is important for all of us to stand up and push back. None of us know for sure what tomorrow will hold. Hopefully, we will all get up, head to work or begin the day’s activity, and arrive at the end having made a difference, made memories, and committed to continuing ahead. Sadly, for some of us, the next day will bring tragedy, pain, heartbreak, and perhaps even death. Whether it be a car accident, medical error, accidental fall, or any number of other possibilities, every day things happen which could have been prevented, are not, and cause severe damage.

While it might be convenient to ignore that reality, in the real world we must address these issues. One of the ways our society does so is by ensuring legal accountability following harm caused by preventable conduct. For example, if you drive irresponsibly and cause an auto accident that leads another to suffer a traumatic brain injury, then you may be held legally responsible for repaying the damage of that accident as fully as possible. The rules are no different for individual community members as they are for large corporations. When a big business (or an employee) makes a mistake and causes harm, they need to be held fully accountable for that harm.

Brain injuries can strike at any time: when riding in the car, while stepping on a ladder, or even while walking through the snow. Any significant contact between the head and a hard object can cause serious brain damage. Much of that damage permanently affects the individuals capabilities, from walking and talking to experiencing certain emotions.

Because of the significant harm that results from brain injuries, medical experts have long-been looking at ways to minimize the damage. This can be done in two ways–prevent the harmful contact in the first place and/or stop the “cascading” of brain damage after the injury. One of the largest challenges faced by those addressing the issue is the tendency for brain damage to actually increase in the hours and days after an initial injury. For example, while significant harm may develop in the exact second of an impact to the head,, the damage that exists at that exact moment is not the maximum harm to the injured individual. Instead, the brain may continue to suffer expanded injury even after the impact, leading to more and more (sometimes permanent) harm.

So can anything be done to minimize the cascading effect?

One of the frightening things about brain injury research is that that more we uncover, the more long-term consequences are found. Without digging deep, at first blush the consequences of these injuries (even “mild” brain injuries, like concussions) only appear to be the symptoms that manifest immediately–things like head pain, fatigue, or dizziness. When those feelings go away, then everything is healed and there is no harm done, right? Wrong. The more our medical experts learn about traumatic brain injuries, the more severe and long-term consequences are becoming apparent.

Even less serious brain injuries are not some mild event that can be shaken off in short order. The changes to the brain caused by these injuries may very well play a role in a range of physical problems that might not manifest for years (or even decades) later.

For example, a new ABC News story discussed a survey that sought to examine Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is a movement disorder that causes tremors and usually comes with a loss of coordination. Researchers were seeking to identify anything about sufferers’ experiences that might indicate a connection to the development of the medical condition. The results, published in the recent issue of the journal Neurology, identify several very clear events which significantly increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s.

Brain injuries and their long-term consequences have made many headlines recently, often connected to military veterans. That is because the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan came with may explosives and follow-up traumatic brain injuries. Properly caring for those hurt overseas is of paramount importance, and so researchers have been working hard to try to get to the bottom of these injuries. That work includes coming up with better ways to indentify brain injuries as well as fully understanding the long-term consequences of those injuries.

For example, Science Codex reported yesterday on new research examining the effects of these injuries on vision. Researchers presented two separate studies on this issue at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Opthalmology. The main conclusion was that many veterans who suffer a brain injury (or post-traumatic stress disorder) may also have vision problems that go undiagnosed.

The Brain Injury/Vision Research

The brain is the body’s nerve center. As anyone who has experienced any sort of brain injury understands, unlike virtually all other organs, damage to the brain can affect virtually all aspects of one’s health and well-being. Serious damage to the brain, of course, can also prove fatal. It goes without saying that we all must act prudently to avoid any sort of brain injury or damage.

On that front, Health News Digest shared an interesting story last week that suggests that high blood pressure might lead to brain damage in middle age. Those findings were reached by researchers at UC-Davis. They published the results online at the medical publication The Lancet Neurology–it will also appear in the print version of the journal. It is yet another reminder of the need to focus on overall health to prevent harm to the brain, as the sensitivity of the organ makes it suceptible to damage in many ways.

The Study

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.

The Register-Guard reported last week on a new brain injury lawsuit that was filed by a father against a hospital on behalf of his injured adult daughter. The medical malpractice suit makes claims that the doctors involved in the care of his daughter did not act properly when caring for the woman after she had suffered a stroke. As a result of their inaction, alleges the father, the woman suffered a permanent brain injury that will affect the rest of her life.

The incident occurred a year and a half ago when the woman went to the hospital claiming that she had suffered a seizure, was nauseas, was vomiting, and had a four-day long severe headache. Unfortunately, the medical professionals at the facility she visited did not provide much care. She received some treatment and was sent home the same day.

Her problem did not go away. The very next day she went back to the hospital with more problems. The seizures had continued, she found herself unable to response to other normally, her jaw was clenched, and she could not move the left side of her mouth properly. It wasn’t long before tests revealed that the woman had suffered a stroke. At that time she underwent emergency treatment, but her injuries cascaded. According to the suit she “sustained a profound, disabling, permanent brain injury.” In the aftermath of the incident the woman required multiple surgeries and was in the hospital for almost half a year.

Med Gadget reported this week on a new scanner that may offer important advances for those who have suffered a brain injury. The device, known as Infrascanner Model 1000, is used to detect intracranial hematomas-bleeding on the brain inside the head. It had been approved for use by the European Union for the last three years. However the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just recently approved the device for use on patients here in the United States.

The product works by using infrared light to see through the patient’s skull and thereby allowing detection of blood build up that might exists between the skull and the brain. Doctors can therefore quickly test many different regions of the skull. In the emergency room context it will allow doctors to decide in a timely fashion whether or not a particular patient needs a follow up CT scan to get a better idea of the extent of a brain injury victim’s injuries. Blog readers know that saving time in the crucial moments after a brain injury is vital. Brain damage often results from a “cascade” of problems, whereby brain cells and nerves are permanently destroyed not at the moment of head trauma but in the hours and days after it.

The new device was created by Infrascan. They explain in the product release page that the Infrascanner is non-invasive hand held device that help detect brain hematoma within the “golden hour.” This hour refers to the critical period after head trauma has occurred when medical professionals are forced to quickly assess the overall neurological condition of a victim. Medical mistakes at this time often have catastrophic consequences for victims who can see their condition deteriorate quickly if they do not receive proper medical attention. For example, if a football player is taken to the emergency room after taking a particularly hard hit, it is vital for the emergency room professionals to be able to asses immediately whether the head trauma is severe enough to demand certain follow up care. Our Chicago brain injury lawyers hope that these types of devices will be able to deliver on the promises and actually help professionals more accurately make those quick choices.

The Illinois brain accident lawyers at our firm know that one of the main benefits of holding those who cause these accidents accountable is the hope that the accountability will lead to the prevention of future accidents. Many injuries-including those affecting the head-often result in some permanent damage. Medical science has not solved all of the problems related to these situations, and so for many victims there is no returning back to normal. What is perhaps particularly painful about these injuries is that while the body of the individual exists just as it was before, the mind is forever changed. For families this presents painful situations where a loved one’s memory and personality are often forever altered. There is no easy way to deal with one of these accidents, and so a main goal for all those working in our area is to prevent Illinois brain injuries from striking in the first place.

New information reported yesterday in the Washington Post reaffirms the ultimate need to prevent these injuries, because the sad fact remains that most medical professionals still do not have clear strategies for treating traumatic brain injuries. A 250-page report was recently released by the Institute of Medicine which was produced at the request of the U.S. Defense Department. The federal agency is seeking information on the best way to treat the many returning military veterans who have suffered brain injuries. Many of the victims have experienced a variety of problems such as clouded thinking, poor planning and judgment, bad moods, and other issues. The injuries result in employment problems for the returning vets and also result in higher than normal instances of family conflict. The results of the report seeking to improve their situation are less than satisfying.

Overall the fourteen experts who prepared the report found that it remains incredibly difficult to consistently treat these injuries. There is no magic formula or drug that can be doled out to solve the problems. One of those involved in the project explained, “It doesn’t mean beneficial therapies don’t exist. It just means that at this point in time it’s hard to ascertain them.” It will take a lot more work before medical professionals understand what to do to help the many community members afflicted with these brain injuries. Unfortunately, many more victims of brain injuries exist than some would expect. For example, nearly 200,000 military members alone have been diagnosed with these problems in the past decades. Many others involved in sports collisions, car accidents, slip and falls, birthing complications, and other situations have also developed brain injuries.

For a Chicago brain injury lawyer, the consequences of traumatic head injuries are very real. Working in this area, it is impossible not to come to grips with the reality of these accidents and the effects that they have on local citizens. However, most people are never aware of what it means to suffer a brain injury until they or someone they love happens to experience head trauma. It is only after a family has to work with through the recovery process that they understand the often permanent affect that these incidents have on victims’ lives.

For example, one woman recently shared her story with the Fairlawn Patch. She explained how her life changed forever when she accidentally fell down the stairs of her home one morning. The victim landed in a heap at the bottom. Her husband called emergency responders, and she was sent to the hospital. She spent three weeks in a coma. Doctors explained that she was lucky to be alive afterward. She experienced a fractured skull and bruising on both temporal lobes on her brain. As a result, even after more than six months of extensive cognitive remediation therapy, she has brain trouble. Most of her problems are centered around speaking and processing the speech of others.

Following her family’s ordeal, the victim has begun working with organizations to raise aware of the consequences of these injuries. She explained how far too many people fail to appreciate the overall scope of the traumatic brain injury (TBI) problem. Every year more people suffer a traumatic brain injury than are diagnosed with breast cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV, and spinal cord injuries combined. It is not a small problem.

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