Articles Posted in Traumatic Brain Injuries

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Miami Personal Injury Lawyers Explore the Ongoing Litigation Against the NFL

Former-NFL player Tony Gaiter, along with hundreds of other retired players, recently filed a federal lawsuit against the National Football League seeking workers’ compensation benefits for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Gaiter, like many other former players, reports that he was hit on the head numerous times during his career and now suffers from serious brain injuries.  Specifically, Gaiter suffers from constant head pain and cannot hold a job because he is unable to focus or remember basic things.  He and the other NFL players joining in the Fort Lauderdale lawsuit claim that CTE is an occupational hazard and players should be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.  Our brain injury attorneys are closely following the lawsuit as it could have serious implications for recently retired NFL players, along with current and future football players.

This litigation comes a year after a final decision was rendered in the monumental class action lawsuit of Turner et al v. National Football League et al. In that case, several former-NFL players filed suit through their personal injury attorneys against the NFL for the development of CTE.  In sum, over 5,000 players were represented in the lawsuit.  Judge Anita Brody reached a settlement that will apply to all players who retired on or before July 7, 2014.  The settlement provides up to five million per retired player for serious medical conditions related to head damage.  Total funds available to injured players amount to one billion.  Players have the option to opt out and pursue their own lawsuit.

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Brain injuries are severe injuries that can potentially lead to long term or permanent consequences.  Traumatic brain injury sufferers may require surgery and long term treatment.  These serious injuries can render accident victims unable to perform daily living tasks and work obligations.  They have considerable financial and physical consequences that may be ongoing for the life of the accident victim.

The personal injury lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano have assisted several clients who sustained traumatic brain injuries in car accidents, falls, workplace accidents, and more.  We understand how severe these injuries can be and the impact they will have on every aspect of the sufferer’s life.  Our attorneys diligently fight to see that our brain injured clients receive the compensation they deserve from the party responsible for their injuries.

Signs of a Brain Injury

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Skateboards are often considered toys, but a fair amount of skill and athleticism is needed to ride them safely.  This form of recreation can serve as a great source of enjoyment and help children increase their agility, balance, coordination, and sense of self-esteem.  However, when children ride skateboards without a focus on safety, riders can suffer serious injuries, such as a traumatic head injury or even death

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that more than 300,000 skateboard accident victims are treated in hospital emergency rooms for skateboarding-related injuries on an annual basis.  Many of these skateboard injuries are a result of the defective design or manufacture of skateboards or inadequate warnings and instructions regarding the proper age and skill necessary to safely use skateboards.  Two of every five skateboard injuries involve a borrowed board where the rider often lacks experience and/or adequate adult supervision.  Almost half of all skateboard injuries involve children between the ages of 10-14.  Over one-third of injured riders are not wearing any protective equipment like a helmet to protect their head.  Traumatic brain injuries due to colliding with vehicles can lead to fatal skateboarding accidents. Continue reading →

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While many people assume that a permanent brain injury is an obscure event that only happens to other people, statistical research reveals this debilitating form of injury is far too common.  Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that head injuries constitute the leading cause of death in young adults and children.  Further, head injuries account for 44 percent of all injury-related deaths in the U.S.  Over 1.5 million Americans sustain head injuries every year with 80,000 of those injuries resulting in irreversible damage.

The leading cause of traumatic brain injuries is auto accidents followed closely by bicycle or motorcycle accidents, falls, and sports-related accidents. After a person has sustained a traumatic brain injury in an accident, it is not always immediately apparent how extensive the damage really is until some time has elapsed, and medical tests and evaluations have been conducted.  The outside of the head may look fairly normal and mask serious internal damage.  Nonetheless, the brain may have extensive internal bleeding or the skull might be fractured. Continue reading →

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A study conducted by researchers from the University of South Florida have discovered that the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries are characterized by chronic inflammation, suppression of cell regeneration and neuronal cell loss producing numerous cognitive and motor limitations. Fortunately, the study has also found that therapy, even when started once the effects of TBI are chronic, may still prevent further brain cell loss.

Alarming Statistics

Government statistics show that an estimated 1.7 million people suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the United States each year. Additionally, annually, traumatic brain injuries are responsible for 52,000 early deaths, account for 30 percent of all injury-related deaths, and cost approximately $52 billion to treat every year.

A traumatic brain injury causes cells at the point of impact to die as a result of the trauma. However, cell death does not stop there. As these dead cells decompose, they release toxic substances that often cause the brain to swell. As the brain swells within the limited confines of the skull, the veins and arteries that carry vital oxygen to the brain are constricted or reduced, cutting the flow of oxygen to the brain. This oxygen deprivation causes more brain cells to die, turning this into a vicious circle that doctors must stop or the patient dies or suffers severe brain damage.

Moreover, even when death is avoided, the long-term neurological deficits brought about by the inflammation that traumatic brain injury causes make the patient suffer more severe secondary injuries and predispose the long-term survivors to age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and post-traumatic dementia.

Acute and Chronic Stages of TBIs

Traumatic brain injuries involve both acute and chronic stages and scientists thought that research with animals at the chronic stages could help them figure out better therapies for the post-acute stages. Researchers found through this study that a massive neuro-inflammation after a traumatic brain injury causes a second wave of cell death that impairs cell proliferation and impedes the brain’s regenerative capabilities. However, they also found that when they applied therapy even at the chronic level, further deterioration was avoided.

In past posts we have talked about different kinds of treatments devised by doctors to deal with the swelling of the brain as a result of the chemical substances released by dead cells. Thankfully, many of these studies indicate that the faster we provide rehabilitation therapy to people that have suffered some kind of traumatic brain injury, the better chances they have to recover. Unfortunately, this brain therapy does not come cheap, which is why victims that have suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of another’s negligent actions need the help of an experienced lawyer to recover the funds they need to pay for their rehabilitation and ongoing medical and personal needs.
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Scientists at the University of Washington have discovered a direct correlation between cooling the brain just 2 degrees Celsius after trauma can lead to the complete eradication of seizures afterwards.

According to futurity.org, Dr. Raimondo D’Ambrosio, lead author of the study said that “these findings demonstrate for the first time that prevention of epileptic seizures after traumatic brain injury is possible, and that epilepsy prophylaxis in patients could be achieved more easily than previously thought.”

Common Result

Epileptic attacks, as seizures are also called, are a direct result of genetic defects or brain damage caused by trauma. Considering that over 1.7 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries each year in the United States alone, it is not uncommon for many of the injured to suffer from seizures as a long term effect. In fact, traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of seizures in young adults.

Epileptic seizures are incurable and very difficult to manage with medication. The mechanisms behind the beginning of seizures after a brain injury are unknown. Consequently, news that they can be prevented is a medical breakthrough.

The Study

Researchers used lab rats to conduct their study. They used animals that developed chronic spontaneous recurrent seizures (the typical scenario for epilepsy) after a head injury just like those leading to epilepsy in humans. The rats randomly divided into two groups: one whose brains would be cooled just 2 degrees Celsius (a degree of cooling known to be safe and to decrease mortality in patients with head injuries) and another who would just be mock-cooled. The results were that just by cooling 2 degrees Celsius for 5 weeks beginning the third day after the injury virtually abolished the occurrence of epileptic seizures afterwards. Additionally, the treatment produced no other pathology or inflammation and restored neuronal activity depressed by the injury.
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Traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause of death and disability among young adults in industrialized countries. It accounts for more potential years of life lost than cancer and cardiovascular decease combined. One of the deadliest consequences of a traumatic brain injury is the swelling of the brain.

As discussed in previous posts, brain cells at the point of impact die, liberating toxic substances that cause the brain to swell and that, at the same time, kill more of the surrounding cells. If doctors fail to stop this deadly vicious circle, the patient dies. Scientists are experimenting with many different drugs and devices to combat this deadly brain swelling. For example, researchers are using a micro computer vacuum pump to drain the deadly toxic substances created by the dead cells. Yet, there has not been much success finding a drug that prevents the cells from dying in the first place. Not until now…

New Drug Shows Promise

Vasopharm GmbH, is a European pharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of cerebral and cardiovascular diseases. It recently announced the results of the explorative phase IIa NOSTRA trial of its VAS203 drug in Traumatic Brain Injury. The trial included the use of “in vivo” microdialysis that allowed scientists to monitor the drugs pharmaco-dynamic and pharmaco-kinetic properties, i.e., the effectiveness of the drug as an allosteric nitric oxide NO-synthase antagonist that interrupts the inducible nitric oxide process that causes the brain to swell.

VAS203 did not have any negative effect on the brain’s perfusion pressure, good safety and tolerability and no deaths among the patients to whom it was administered, versus a 12.5 percent mortality rate among those in the control group, who only got a placebo. It is very important to note that the Therapy Intensity Level (TIL), which is a marker evaluating concomitant therapy and intervention by the physicians as a measure for control of intracranial pressure (ICP), showed a substantial reduction among the patients treated with VAS203 when compared to those who received a placebo. Additionally, an extended Glasgow Outcome Scale (eGOS) was used off protocol to assess the level of achieved neurological recovery six months after the injury. When compared to the group on a placebo, patients on VAS203 showed a great increase of their eGOS six months after suffering their injury, which demonstrates a substantially improved recovery.

Expensive Treatments

Given the complexity of these injuries, pharmaceutical companies invest large sums of money trying to discover effective drugs and treatments. Consequently, these drugs and treatments are not cheap. If the traumatic brain injury occurred in an accident for which someone else was responsible, maybe the lawyers of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, can help. They have the experience necessary to help the victims of traumatic brain injuries caused by someone else’s negligent actions recover money to help pay for their treatment, including rehabilitation therapy, for their daily expenses, for their pain and suffering and for their lost wages.
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It is a constant theme of our posts how often traumatic brain injuries are the result of car accidents. Such is the case of Michele Willis, who in December of 2009 suffered an accident when her car hit a boulder and went airborne, flipping several times. The violence of the impact and subsequent rolling made Michele’s seatbelt to become loose, allowing her head to go through driver’s side window before hitting the pavement.

Saved by Paramedics

Due to her injuries, Ms. Willis’ heart and lungs stopped functioning at the accident scene. However, paramedics did not stop working on her and managed to revive her. She spent the next two and a half weeks in a coma at Grant Medical Center’s trauma unit.

A surgeon had to perform a craniotomy and he told her it had been one of the most challenging procedures he had ever done, having even to pick pieces of her skull out of her brain…

Michele spent five weeks in the hospital. During her stay she received therapy that consisted in the nurses placing a tether around her waist and setting up traffic cones for her to navigate. This helped regain her ability to walk three days earlier than expected. However, despite those early successes her rehabilitation is an ongoing battle: due to the damage suffered by the left side of her brain, it took her a year to regain her senses of smell and taste. Moreover, as a result of the trauma to her brain, she has had to learn to live with some limitations.

Prolonged Therapy

Among these limitations are heightened emotions, like anger, which is not always easy for her to control or for her family to deal with. Similarly, her ability to make quick decisions was affected. To retrain her brain on how to make fast decisions, the doctors at the new brain trauma rehabilitation program at Ohio State University Medical Center gave her two choices: medication or computer games. She chose to try intensive computer games because she did not want to take any more medication than she needed.

Please note that the brain trauma center at OSU provides a number of services for patients who have had TBI or other brain injuries, like a stroke. Their inpatient and outpatient treatment options include various types of therapy and real world simulations.

Of course, these treatments are not cheap and that is where the lawyers at Greenberg Stone and Urbano may be able to help victims that have suffered their traumatic brain injuries as a result of accidents.
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