Articles Posted in Legislation

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Traumatic brain injuries are caused by significant contact between the head and a hard surface. This much is well known by most. That naturally leads to the assumption that one important way to prevent head injuries is to promote the use of helmets. Of course, that is exactly what many advocates are urging on a wide variety of fronts–from bicycle helmets and motorcycle helmets to better designed football helmets.

Yet it is a mistake to assume that all we need is more helmet use to get rid of the TBI problem. In fact, researchers are still toiling away to figure out exactly how helpful helmets are–the results may surprise you.

Bike Helmet Study

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A rising wave of support seems to be building for the federal piece of legislation known as the Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan (PABI Plan). Blog readers are well versed in the details of this proposal as our Chicago brain injury attorneys discussed the issue this week. Just this week another newspaper editorialized in support of the proposal.

The South Bend Tribune editorial reminded readers that information on brain injury prevention and treatment remained relatively sparse-especially compared to advances made in other areas in recent years. Of course, it is obvious that traumatic brain injuries can be prevented by stopping the trauma from occurring-whether that be in auto accidents, falls, sports accidents, or the like. However, as we’ve frequently reported, often the most damage to the brain occurs in the hours or days after a trauma has actually occurred. This wave of brain cell death is often referred to the “brain tsunami.” Working to prevent this wave of damage would go a long way to drastically improving the lives of those who suffer head trauma. In addition, there remains a long way to go before medical experts are uniformly aware of the best treatment practices.

The editorial explained that the PABI Plan was first envisioned by the father of a pediatric brain injury victim-a young girl who suffered damaging harm after falling victim to a traumatic birth injury when only five days old. When the father was looking for answers to determine the best way to help his daughter he was amazed at the lack of clear information available to him or even to medical professionals who were in charge of her care. There was no repository of information, clear prevention plans, or treatment options. Instead what he found was that prevention and treatment goals were essentially arbitrarily made from one office to the other.

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Our Illinois brain injury attorneys are very interested by the new Illinois law requiring all student athletes to be cleared by a doctor, when they show any signs of a concussion, before they are allowed back in the game or on the field. This new law was adopted earlier this year to be effective immediately, and with the new school year beginning and a new high school football season starting, this concussion law will hopefully begin to reduce the number of long term brain injuries suffered by football players who get hit in the head again before they are fully recovered from a previous concussion. Although the law itself is new to the state of Illinois, 27 other states have already adopted a similar type of law and many Illinois schools had similar policies in place in order to help protect their students that were showing signs of a concussion after receiving a hit to the head.

This law, and similar policies that were implemented by schools prior to this new Illinois law going into effect, come in the wake of the realization that many serious brain injuries in football players were linked to the players suffering years of concussions. Up until just recently football players were usually sent back on the field shortly after suffering a possible concussion, and recent studies have shown that this may have been what caused a great number of long-term severe brain damage and in some cases even death. According to The Chicago Tribune, the number of school age children coming into the emergency room for concussions has drastically increased, and more children have been receiving the treatment that they needed, likely because of the increased awareness of the possible danger of repeated concussions that are not handled appropriately.

Upon learning of the danger of not fully checking out an athlete following a hit to the head, many coaches, teachers, parents and school boards have fought for and implemented changes in schools. While it was a great start for schools to take action, our Illinois personal injury attorneys were very happy to learn that Illinois lawmakers decided to take more action and implement a concussion law for the state of Illinois. This statewide law will hopefully injure that all student athletes are treated properly following a head injury and greatly reduce the number of brain injuries suffered by our Illinois athletes.

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A new Illinois law requires that movable soccer goals must be properly anchored and checked to make sure that they will not tip over while kids are playing soccer. Our Illinois brain injury attorneys are happy to see this new law as it comes as a response to multiple deaths and severe head and brain injuries that have resulted from movable soccer goals tipping over and landing on young children. The law is known as “Zach’s Law” and is named after a young Illinois boy who was killed eight years ago by a goal that tipped over and landed on top of him. There have been three other incidents in Illinois where children have been injured by these movable goals. The new law is aimed to make people aware of how avoidable this type of injury is as long as the goal is anchored properly and the time is taken to make sure that the goal is stable and safe for kids to play around. The goals must be removed and stored in a specific way and only park employees are authorized to remove and install any goals that are owned by the district. The reason for this is to try to make sure that the people that are in charge of installing and removing the goals have the proper training and that they will exercise the most care possible in handling the goals. Aside from just requiring the proper inspection of the goals, the new law also bans the manufacture or sale of any new soccer goals that are not tip-resistant.

The family of the young boy who the law is named after started a non-profit group named Anchored for Safety with a goal of promoting soccer goal safety and pushing for legislation to deal with soccer goal safety. While it did take time, the family is happy that Illinois responded and enacted a soccer goal safety law. The Illinois law comes shortly after several other states have enacted laws that are similar to this one, aiming at protecting child from death or brain injury from movable soccer goals that were not properly anchored. This law is very important because it is a way to help keep children safe from death or serious brain injury. Any time there are measures that can be taken to protect people and keep avoidable injuries from happening, these measures should always be taken to help protect people from serious personal injury.
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A recent Illinois law was just passed that requires that all student athletes in Illinois that suffer from a concussion get approval from a doctor before they are allowed to play again. Our Illinois brain injury attorneys are so happy to hear about this new law, especially because of all the professional athletes that have suffered severe brain injuries after years of suffering concussions and going right back out on the field. According to the Courthouse News Service, the law will take effect immediately and was enacted after legislators saw all the dangers that were associated with allowing National Football League (NFL) players to keep playing without much medical attention after suffering concussions. In addition to requiring medical approval before being allowed to play again, the law will also require that coaches, parents, referees and all players receive more education about concussions so everyone involved is aware of the potential dangers and can better make informed decisions.

This issue has recently been very controversial, in light of former players from the NFL realizing that many of them have permanent brain damage as a result of years of hits to the head and going back on the field after concussions. The NFL did not warn the players of the dangers of repetitive concussions until just recently, and there is currently a major lawsuit against the NFL that was brought by former players. The NFL lawsuit alleges that the NFL knew of the dangers to the players long before they began warning them and that they were negligent and had a duty to warn the players of any dangers they were aware of that was associated with the sport.

The reason that it is so important to be aware of the dangers of multiple concussions and always be fully checked out by a doctor after receiving a concussion is that if a person suffers from multiple concussions they run the risk of incurring permanent brain injuries. A concussion is a shaking of the brain against the skull, which often times does not cause serious or permanent damage when it occur once but can cause long term damage if the injury is continuous. Having a doctor check out a patient immediately after a concussion and before they are allowed to be back out on the field is very important so that if the injury is more serious, the injured person takes the appropriate time necessary to recover and does not risk more severe injury.

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March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month. As the month comes to an end, the Miami Herald published an article from a local high school student-athlete who had suffered a sports related brain injury.

The 16 year old sophomore suffered a concussion after a head to head collision with a fellow soccer player. This was not the sophomore’s first brain injury. The sophomore reported having three concussions in four years; all of which occurred while playing high school soccer.

Each year, nearly 140,000 high school athletes suffer a sports-related concussion. Several states are looking to pass laws to help prevent sport related brain injuries in high school student athletes. In Illinois, pending legislation is looking to provide education and awareness for athletes, coaches, and parents. Although student-athletes need parental consent before competing, few Illinois schools have policies informing student-athletes and parents of the nature and risk of head injuries.

Other states are trying to introduce similar bills. Some states even want a policy requiring players who sustain a suspected head injury to be immediately suspended from play until they receive clearance from a qualified medical professional. In Illinois, steps are being taken in Springfield to improve safety regulations for helmet manufacturers. To learn more about Illinois brain injuries, follow the link.

In the article, the sophomore regrets not seeking medical treatment sooner for his brain injuries. The sophomore complained of constant headaches that interfered with his academics. He also suffered from depression after doctors told him he would never be able to play soccer again. Although the student-athlete’s symptoms have improved and he has been able to return to soccer, he has to wear a rugby helmet during games.

According to the article, more than 40 percent of high school athletes return to play before they are fully recovered because schools, coaches, parents and players are not adequately educated on head injuries. In fact, brain injuries have been called the “silent epidemic” because few people are aware that they represent a serious health problem in the United States. Click on the link to read the full article about head injuries.
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Nearly three decades ago Terry Pomatto “lost” her son to a motorcycle accident. Steven Paul Fowler, Terry’s son, suffered a traumatic brain injury while riding his motorcycle when an animal ran into the road in front of him. Unable to stop Steven crashed, killing one passenger, while personally suffering a traumatic brain injury. Steven did not pass away, but his life was never the same. After weeks in a coma, Steven woke up unable to do even the most mundane tasks. “It took months just for him to learn to open his mouth, to chew food, to swallow,” Pomatto said. Steven eventually regained the ability to speak, and eat, but only in a limited capacity, and he was never able to truly function as he was before the accident. Steven never made it out of the nursing home.

Steven’s mother had bought him a helmet a few weeks prior to the accident, but unfortunately Steven was not wearing it when he collided with the wild animal on May 31, 1981. A few days after the accident, Steven’s mother went to his house to pick up a few things and found the helmet sitting on the kitchen table. As a mixture of emotions swelled inside her, Terry picked up the helmet and threw it against the wall.

Steven suffered from a traumatic brain injury. The Mayo Clinic describes a traumatic brain injury as “the result of a sudden, violent blow to the head – which launches the brain on a collision course with the inside of the skull. This collision can bruise the brain, tear nerve fibers and cause bleeding.” Additionally, According to the National Institutes of Health, “half of all traumatic brain injuries are caused by collisions involving cars, motorcycles and bicycles.”