Mild TBI Can Result in Destruction of Soft Tissue

Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries affect your life in many ways, but TBI has also been linked to the death of brain tissue after the initial impact. Dr. Sergei Kirov is a neuroscientist at the Medical College of Georgia Regents University, and his latest work has related to researching the damage that a head injury can cause to the brain in the following hours after the initial impact.

After a TBI occurs, both swelling and reduced blood flow take place and connections between neurons begin to die. Smaller cells, also known as astrocytes have been known to swell significantly when an injury occurs. A neuron is typically surrounded by 25 astrocytes and when these small star shaped cells swell up they smother the neuron and connective branches they support. This causes a lot of danger to the brain because astrocytes are responsible for providing physical support, nutrition and biochemical support to the neurons as well as repair and scarring of the brain following an injury.

These neurons will only take so much before they run out of energy and stop functioning, even though it has been said that they will still survive for hours after this happens, possibly giving doctors enough time to help, unless depolarization takes place.

“Like the plus and minus ends of a battery, neurons must have a negative charge inside and a positive charge outside to fire,” Kirov said, and for the brain, firing is a way of communication.

If the injury is serious enough, spreading depolarization can occur and is known for killing brain cells and brain tissue. This occurs abundantly in individuals that suffer from a TBI and can be identified by swelling of neurons, distortion of dendritic spines, and silencing of brain activity. Depolarization can also occur without a brain injury; instead it is a healthy way of firing neurons. Researchers found that when depolarization occurred brain cells were completely recovered but were only partially recovered if injured.

Dr. Kirov is far from finished when it comes to studying the brain and head injuries. He stated that he plans on researching astrocytes and whether their swelling after an injury is a form of protection or a damaging reaction, as well as better ways to protect the brain from injuries.

Matthew A. Dolman, Esq., is a traumatic brain injury attorney.  He has built a reputation among his peers for successful outcomes obtained for victims of traumatic brain injury.  For more information or to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation, please call the injury law attorneys at the Dolman Law Group today at: (727) 451-6900.

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Winter Sports and Brain Injury

It is very common to hear about concussions when discussing football or a recent auto accident, but many forget that snowboarders and skiers are just as susceptible to head injuries. Concussions are the most common injury that snowboarders face when riding but for them, they would prefer a concussion over a broken bone. These young adults see head injuries as an easier recovery process compared to an ACL tear or a broken ankle, but what they often fail to comprehend is the long-term prognosis for victims of a closed head injury.

Kevin Pearce, winter X-Games snowboarder, suffered six concussions; the last one ended his career for good. Three weeks prior to his career ending accident, Pearce was practicing and took a hard hit to the head. Instead of taking the necessary time to heal and recover from this concussion, he decided that on December 31, 2009 he would give the half pipe another try.  Unfortunately his attempt was unsuccessful and once again he fell on his head, but this time he did not sustain a concussion. Rather, he suffered a traumatic brain injury that completely altered his life. Kevin Pearce was flown to the University of Utah Medical Center and was not released until January 26, 2010. He was then transferred out of critical care and moved to Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado, a rehabilitation center specializing in traumatic brain injuries. It was not until June 2010 that Pearce could reunite with family and friends.  However, he will never again snowboard at the X-Games.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can affect a person for the remainder of their life, and take years to possibly recover from. When suffering a TBI there are many long term symptoms that may manifest such as: changes in social behavior, constant headaches, numbness in the limbs, loss of coordination, confusion, restlessness, agitation, memory and vision loss, etc. Athletes whose hobbies are also their careers are much more likely to experience an injury such as a TBI.  At this time, most athletes fail to appreciate or acknowledge the long-term effects of concussions are something that concerns them. Hopefully after reading about other athletes such as Kevin Pearce and the effect it had on his career, it could change some perspectives.

Matthew A. Dolman, Esq., is a traumatic brain injury attorney.  He has built a reputation among his peers for successful outcomes obtained for victims of traumatic brain injury.  For more information or to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation, please call the injury law attorneys at the Dolman Law Group today at: (727) 451-6900.

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Identifying Common Cause of Traumatic Brain Injuries: Whiplash

There are several myths surrounding the ever-expanding field of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). One of the most common myths associated with TBI is that they are only caused by a sudden or severe blow to the skull. We see this type of TBI all the time with professional sports athletes, especially in the NFL. Hollywood has also chosen to focus almost solely on this type of TBI as well (think “50 First Dates”, “While You Were Sleeping”, or pretty much any other romantic comedy in which someone suffers a head trauma and a resulting amnesia). This type of TBI is quickly recognized and diagnosed due to the obvious trauma to the victim’s head. However, this is not the only type of TBI.

Another type of TBI is often caused by an injury commonly associated with automobile accidents- whiplash. Whiplash refers to injuries to the cervical spine column due to a quick over-extension of the muscles in the neck and upper back. When whiplash occurs however, it is not just the neck that experiences that rapid back and forth “nodding” motion.

When whiplash occurs, the brain can experience what is called a “coup contrecoup” injury. This type of TBI is caused by a fast acceleration or deceleration of the head and brain and requires no direct external contact to the victim’s head. We all learned in grade school that Newton’s laws of motion require an object in motion to stay in motion until it is acted upon by an equal and opposite force. As we see all too often with rapid acceleration/deceleration injuries, the brain is not immune to this law. When a vehicle is forced to stop abruptly- as in a collision- the force of the wreck sends the head and neck forward and can even propel the victim’s brain into motion. When this occurs, the equal and opposite force that stops the forward momentum of the brain is the skull itself. This collision between the brain and the inside of the skull sends the brain jolting backwards until it hits another wall- the back of the skull. As you can see in the video below, a whiplash can easily result in severe trauma to both the front and back of the brain and can lead to severe injury to the victim.

So why do we only hear about brain injuries associated with some type of external trauma? Well, Traumatic Brain Injuries reveal themselves in many ways including both Primary and Secondary Damages. Primary damages are those that occur at the time of the injury. An injury that is the result of an external trauma- such as the victim’s head being slammed against a steering wheel or dash board- will likely present with obvious primary damage such as a skull fracture or a contusion at the site of the injury, making them very easy to identify. Meanwhile, victims of the less obvious internal injuries caused by an acceleration/deceleration trauma may experience more hidden symptoms, such as blood clots in the brain itself, tearing of brain tissue and/or blood vessels, or even damage to the nerve fibers in the brain.

Secondary injuries- those occurring after the time of the actual trauma- can be extremely dangerous to victims of acceleration/deceleration TBIs as they may go undetected by medical personnel until days or weeks after the accident occurred. These can include infection, brain swelling, oxygen deprivation, death of brain tissue, and internal bleeding within the skull.

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, automobile accidents account for over 17% of all reported traumatic brain injuries. If you’ve been in an accident and you’ve developed common TBI symptoms such as dizziness, irritability, headaches, changes in appetite, confusion, memory loss or physical impairment, it is extremely important, that you are evaluated by a physician with training in the diagnosis and treatment of coup contrecoup injuries.

If you are the victim of a traumatic brain injury, you will almost certainly need the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you with recovering for the debilitating damage associated with TBI. Florida insurance companies aggressively defend their claims and may try to deny a claim or pay a minimum settlement amount on a “whiplash only” case, not realizing the very real possibility that the victim may be suffering from an undiagnosed traumatic brain injury caused by the collision. The experience brain injury lawyers at Dolman Law group will work just as aggressively for your interests. We actively litigate auto accident and motorcycle accident related cases in Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Sarasota County, Manatee County and Pasco County. Located in central Pinellas County (Clearwater), Dolman Law Group is easily accessible to injury victims in St. Petersburg, Tampa, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Safety Harbor, New Port Richey, Pinellas Park, Largo and Kenneth City. If you or someone you know is suffering from a traumatic brain injury, call our office today for a free consultation. 727-451-6900.

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Suicide Attributable to Brain Injury

In the United States, suicide is among the leading causes of death with around 40,000 deaths each year. Most people are likely to associate suicide with addictions or mental illness, but not many have considered the odds of a suicide resulting from a traumatic brain injury.

On February 17, 2013, Country singer Mindy McCready was found dead on her front porch after committing suicide, in the same spot her boyfriend killed himself just a few months prior. Unfortunately for the last 5 years of her life, McCready was not getting the spotlight she had grown accustomed to. Instead, headlines for McCready revolved around her battling the courts for custody of her children or criminal charges that she has incurred. But what many people are not aware of is Mindy McCready was in an abusive relationship and previously sustained a brain injury because of the abuse.

More than 90 percent of all injuries attributable to domestic violence occur to the head, neck or face, which makes victims of abuse susceptible to brain injury. The most common manner for victims of domestic violence to sustain said injuries include being hit with an object to the head, pushed against a wall, punched directly in the head or face, shaking of the body, being strangled, or being shot in the face or head.  Brain trauma often results in a loss of consciousness, memory or concentration problems, mood changes or mood swings, depression, and anxiety.  Most victims lack knowledge concerning injuries to the brain and attribute their issues to something else. Without knowing that the brain injury may be linked to domestic violence, doctors will not be able to refer them to the correct rehabilitation facility.

In a study conducted by Dr. Jonathan Silver and his colleagues, individuals with a history of traumatic brain injuries are far more likely to commit suicide or have serious psychiatric issues compared to those who have never had an injury to the brain. Mindy McCready was a victim of a brain injury and this may have played a role in her untimely death . Brain injuries are the number one leading cause of death and disability for young adults and without the proper information on how to prevent, identify, and treat this injury; the deaths will continue to be on the rise.

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Utilizing Diffusion Tensor Imaging to Illustrate Mild TBI

Mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a very common disorder and affects over one million Americans each year. A recent study has linked mild traumatic brain injury to abnormalities in the white matter of the brain, also known as “potholes”.

With over two million soldiers in the United States alone, an estimated 10% of these men and women have experienced TBI while being deployed overseas. Due to the fact that TBI is so difficult to diagnose or detect, there are likely to be thousands of soldiers who are not aware that they have sustained a TBI. The University of Iowa research team used a MRI based brain scanning technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to study the brains of ninety-three (93) veterans. Utilizing DTI, researchers found that soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan with mild TBI have more abnormalities in the white matter of their brains compared to those who have not experienced TBI.

Studies have demonstrated that the severity of the injury and increased severity of cognitive alterations, (which affects the ability to make a decision) are the only two criteria influencing the number of potholes; as opposed to age, duration since trauma, coexisting psychological problems, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
A “mild” traumatic brain injury may be nothing more than minor damage to the axonal fibers. However, this may result in long lasting very significant consequences. In fact, it is not uncommon for the symptoms to grow worse over time. As a personal injury attorney, I often utilize the services of Neurologists, Neuropsychologists, Vocational Rehabilitation specialists and other professionals to illustrate the long lasting consequences of a brain injury and to assist my TBI client on the road to recovery.

If you would like more information on claims involving an injury to the brain, call the injury law attorneys of the Dolman Law Group for a free consultation and case evaluation at:
(727) 451-6900.

-Matthew A. Dolman, Esq.

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Inspiration Found From Brain Injury Victim

This morning, during my foray through social media and the news, I came across a YouTube video entitled: “Re-learning My Broken Memories, Inspirational Monologue – by Sam Way.” As an attorney who represents brain injury victims and enjoys sharing inspiration, the headline interested me. I clicked the link.

The video opens to a young man, in his late teens, walking onto a stage through a door. He looks around, shaking, as if trying to see if all his limbs joined his journey through the portal. Finally, he notices a chair in the center of the stage and disjointedly walks to the chair.

As his tremors continue, the young man peers at the door, pondering its very existence. The tremors build to a climax as the first word, “YOU!” rockets out of his mouth with seemingly every ounce of the young man’s strength.

I found myself struck with an unnerving skepticism as to the veracity of the video. He displayed classic signs of a traumatic brain injury, but they were so prevalent that I thought, “this may be some sort of cruel and elaborate ruse.” I immediately paused the video and looked into its uploader’s profile.

That person was Sam Way, known as sammiemagoo2 via YouTube. Sam uploaded around 1575 videos at the time of this writing. The video showed the same young man that I viewed on stage struggling through a number of workouts and describing his life, including videos on learning to walk with a cane and swimming underwater.

I wanted to know more about who this person was and what he was about. The answer came from one of Sam’s videos where he and a member of his team read a local newspaper article.

Sam was found in October 2004, at 10 years of age, Sam was found wrapped in a sleeping bag, drugged, and possibly hit by a train. Authorities found Sam’s father nearby wrapped in blankets and he was eventually convicted of criminal negligence. Sam’s video has an inserted visual comment that states, they “still don’t know why [his father] did that.

At this point, I was convinced and sought to hear the rest of Sam’s message. Between long pauses, Sam gives some perspective on his life, stating that he “would never have seen this life coming when [he] was younger… would never accept someone who had a brain injury.” He admit that he “would have just made fun of them for their disability… they were too different.”

Sam admits to some of the issues that we’ve discussed on this blog too. He never thought that someone would help him out and stated, “I thought his life was over.” After a long and quieting pause, Sam rejoiced, “Look at me now! I can walk and talk and do so much more!”

Sam concludes with a final message to all “normal” people. “…STOP picking on other people because of their differences… they just may be helping YOU when YOU go through a life changing event, like a Traumatic Brain Injury.”

As a traumatic brain injury attorney, I’ve seen situations similar to Sam’s. Admittedly, they’re typically milder in severity. Yet, I was entranced by Sam’s willingness, determination and strength in sitting down in front of a camera to do something so challenging.

Check out more of Sam’s videos at his home page on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/sammiemagoo2

 

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Florida Brain Injury Treatment Center Draws Scrutiny

For quite some time, the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation (FINR) has been the talk of Wauchula, FL, and unfortunately the news hasn’t been favorable for this brain-injury center. Abuse, unacceptable employees conduct, and neglect of patients have all been familiar headlines and allegations over the past year. After hearing these accusations many patients have moved to other facilities to ensure proper treatment. After a surprise inspection, state officials found that fifty (50) of the ninety-eight (98) patients did not meet the criteria for treatment at FINR.  Thus, the brain injury treatment center was ordered to move these patients to other facilities.  However, on January 25, 2013, a Florida judge ruled in their favor, allowing them to treat the fifty patients and continue such care at FINR.

The potential loss of said patients would have been a huge loss in revenue for FINR. Just a few weeks prior to the recent ruling, they had filed for bankruptcy protection. In turn, fifty (50) occupied beds out of the one hundred and forty-three (143) available beds is not enough to keep the facility profitable going forward and changes must be implemented immediately within FINR to ensure patients will not leave on their own accord. If not, the facility will be in violation of a loan provision that requires the entity to have at least 75% daily occupancy. Unfortunately for FINR, their occupancy is decreasing on a daily basis and hasn’t shown any recent upturn.

This institute is one of the largest brain injury treatment facilities of its kind in the U.S. Thus, why wouldn’t it be an option for patients that require ongoing treatment for head injuries? Since 1998, patient’s families or state officials have suspected abuse or mistreatment in the deaths of at least five residents; two of which occurred in the past two years. It is very possible that the neglect of said patients is a result of the employees that FINR have assigned to care for them. Three former employees face criminal charges of abusing said patients, and another employee with a criminal background was working with the residential staff and shouldn’t have been eligible for employment. Over five hundred and fourteen (514) allegations of abuse and or neglect at FINR has been received by Florida’s Department of Children and Family since 2005, and are still being received as these patients are leaving and moving elsewhere.

It is fair to say that being able to treat the fifty (50) patients without traumatic brain injuries and not being required to send such individuals to other similar facilities was a relief for FINR, yet they still have many improvements to implement within their company to ensure that any patient being treated there will get the appropriate care and not be abused or neglected. Being one of the largest institutes in the United States, this facility has potential to be not only the largest but could be one of the best.

For more information on the subject of brain injury, please visit the brain injury lawyers at the Dolman Law Group.

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Expanded Benefits For Veterans With Brain Injury

For many soldiers, returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan is a time for celebration and coming together with their loved ones. However, a segment of our soldiers are not so fortunate and will return home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and/or Traumatic Brain Injuries.  Is our health care system prepared to deal with and assist victims of TBI within our United States Armed Forces?

Thousands of individuals suffer from traumatic brain injuries every year and what many don’t recognize is that an injury this serious does not vanish overnight. In fact, someone who suffers from a mild TBI may never feel normal again. Veterans seem to manifest with symptoms much longer than their civilian counterparts and will often still present with symptoms 18-24 months after initially sustaining a TBI. Also, many Veterans have more than one medical problem, including: PTSD, chronic pain, or substance abuse, which makes it more difficult and onerous to achieve resolution to their issues.

Approximately 51,000 veterans are currently receiving benefits for service related to a closed head injury, but thousands of them along with prior war veterans may be eligible for expanded benefits. Currently, a veteran has to provide medical evidence that their head injury was a result of military service in order to receive veterans’ benefits.

The new guidelines will include certain forms of “Parkinsons , unprovoked seizures, certain dementias, depression, and hormone deficiency diseases related to the hypothalamus, pituitary or adrenal glands” as medical conditions eligible for benefits to any veteran with a brain injury,  without burdening such individuals to prove that their illness is directly caused by military service. This will actually speed up and improve the efficiency of their respective treatment. Once that is proven, the department will accept without additional evidence that any of those five diseases was caused by the TBI, making the veteran eligible for additional compensation and health care for that particular disease.

If you suffered brain injury or another traumatic injury while serving in the armed forces, you may be eligible to veterans’ benefits that can help you pay for your medical and rehabilitative care.

For more information on traumatic brain injuries (TBI), please visit your Tampa brain injury lawyers website.

 

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Brain Injury Treatment Benefits Expanded In Tampa, U.S.

The numbers of veterans with brain injuries suffered during their service are extraordinary. And the federal government announced expanded benefits for their brain injury treatment this week.

Per McKnights.com, the documents are available for public viewing via the Federal Register.

The new rule could speed up and simplify cases. The proposal, which requires a 60-day public comment period, could open the door for tens of thousands of veterans to file treatment claims with the Veterans Benefits Administration.

More than 250,000 service members — including some on active duty — have received diagnoses of traumatic brain injury (TBI) since 2000, according to the Defense Department. The causes of TBI include blast exposure, vehicle crashes, training accidents and sports injuries.  Currently, veterans need to provide medical evidence that their illness was caused by military service. About 51,000 military personnel receive benefits for service-connected traumatic brain injuries. Veterans of prior conflicts also will be eligible under the new regulations.

This is awesome news for the thousands of Florida brain injury veterans living among us in the Tampa Bay area. If you know a veteran with a brain injury in the Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tampa or Bradenton areas, definitely alert them.

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Brain Injury Progression Study Reveals Grim Results

Feeling better after a concussion is certainly deceiving. And new information from a study published in a journal Brain is downright sobering.

The excerpt and story from Time.com dives into the science behind the brain injury progression, which leads to the loss of brain function that brain injury sufferers and their families endure.

Once the damage is done, however, it’s difficult to stop. Even after the physical blows no longer occur, a destructive chain of events is already in motion. From these seed points in the frontal lobes, damage to nerves and brain tissue radiates to other parts of the brain, until it eventually engulfs most of the organ, impairing many cognitive functions. “Even if a person doesn’t get additional trauma, the disease progresses, like a lit fire,” says McKee. “The fire takes hold and continues to affect the brain with more lesions the longer the person lives.”

It’s good to see research in this area of how traumatic brain injuries progress. It all ties into developing treatment for brain injury patients in Tampa, Clearwater and across the globe.

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