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Victims Present at Boston Marathon Bombings May Have Unknown Brain Injuries

On April 15, 2013, thousands of runners began the annual Boston Marathon with thousands of spectators lining the route to watch. Unbeknownst to authorities, runners, and spectators, two pressure cooker bombs were placed at the finish line on Boylston Street near Copley Square. The two explosions rocked the finished line at 2:49pm, killing 3 and injuring at least 264 others. The injured were treated at 27 different local hospitals.

Many of the individuals present at the scene of the explosions refused medical attention, stating that they only heard some residual ringing in their ears and felt fine enough to go home. The majority of patients treated in the hospitals were not treated for concussions but rather for shrapnel-related injuries. However, new research on explosions shows that many Boston Marathon victims may have experienced traumatic brain injuries without even realizing it.

Researchers conducting research on individuals present during explosions, such as during the Gulf War, initially seemed fine and unaffected by the explosions. However, later, these same individuals began displaying signs of traumatic brain injury, such as dementia. Research has shown that primary blast waves during explosions can cause concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries, even without a direct blow to the head. The injury itself is caused by the blast of wind that causes the head to swing back and forth rapidly.

In fact, during the Gulf War, over a quarter million individuals were diagnosed for traumatic brain injury simply due to blast waves. These soldiers developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy as a result of blast exposure. Researchers found that soldiers needed to be present at only a single explosion to experience these life-long brain injuries. This is the same type of injury incurred by NFL players during hard hits, which is the subject of multi-million dollar litigation in federal court.

Research has shown that blast-related traumatic brain injuries have similar but separate characteristics and side effects than regular traumatic brain injuries. However, early symptoms include vomiting and nausea, the inability to wake, dilated pupils, numb or weak limbs, restlessness, and confusion. Other signs of brain injuries post-explosion include ringing in the ears, headache, fatigue, poor concentration, PTSD symptoms such as depression or anxiety, lethargy, insomnia, dementia, and changes in mood.

Many individuals present at the Boston Marathon bombings may have experienced one or some of these symptoms and yet not realize they are inflicted with a traumatic brain injury. While some may fully recover in time, others will struggle with this chronic injury for the rest of their lives. It is crucial for anyone experiencing any of these symptoms to seek medical treatment. Traumatic brain injuries must be detected early and treated early. Medical treatment for blast-related traumatic brain injuries includes medication, surgery, and rehabilitation.

If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion or are currently experiencing any symptoms related to a brain injury, please seek immediate medical help. Levin & Perconti can help you investigate your case for negligence or malpractice and help you weigh your options.

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