Sports Related Traumatic Brain Injury Continues

Well into the fourth quarter senior wide receiver Charles Youvella of Hopi High School in Flagstaff, Arizona fell hard on his head and collapsed a couple of plays later; he died Monday of traumatic brain injury. Thursday, Missouri high school football player Chad Stover also died; he was hospitalized with a brain injury since October. These deaths come at a time where head injuries in football are attracting attention at all levels of the sport.

The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council called for a national system to track sports related concussions and answer questions about youth concussion. The report said 250,000 people age 19 and younger were treated in emergency rooms for concussions and other sport or recreation related brain injured in the country in 2009. That was an increase from 150,000 in 2001.

Studies have shown that concussions are often not taken seriously and school-age athletes are encouraged and allowed to return to play before full recovery. This leaves them susceptible to more significant injury including traumatic brain injury (TBI). According to Barry P. Boden, MD, from the Orthopedic Center in Rockville, Md., and adjunct associate professor at the Uniform Services University of the Health Science in Bethesda, Md., high school football players have more than three times the risk of a catastrophic traumatic brain injury than their college peers.

A traumatic brain injury occurs when an external force traumatically injures the brain. The force can compress or damage delicate brain tissue depending on what type of brain injury results. In addition to sports, causes can include falls, vehicle accidents and violence. Disabilities resulting from a TBI depend upon the severity of the injury, the location of the injury, and the age and general health of the individual. Some common disabilities include problems with cognition, sensory processing (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), communication, and behavior or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness).

A person with a mild TBI may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision or tired eyes
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • A change in sleep patterns
  • Behavioral or mood changes
  • Trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking.

A person with a moderate or severe TBI may show these same symptoms, but may also have a headache that gets worse or does not go away, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, an inability to awaken from sleep, dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the extremities, loss of coordination, and increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation.

Anyone with signs of moderate or severe TBI should receive medical attention as soon as possible. Because little can be done to reverse the initial brain damage caused by trauma, medical personnel try to stabilize an individual with TBI and focus on preventing further injury. Primary concerns include insuring proper oxygen supply to the brain and the rest of the body, maintaining adequate blood flow, and controlling blood pressure.

If you or a loved one has sustained a blow to the head or a whiplash injury as a result of the negligence exhibited by an individual or corporation, it is important to be treated by a physician familiar with traumatic brain injury to determine whether an injury to the brain has actually occurred. A traumatic brain injury can have a pronounced effect on your quality of life including the ability to interact with loved ones and friends as well as the ability to work.

Personal Injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group are experienced and aggressive Florida traumatic brain injury attorneys who are often called upon by their colleagues to co-counsel head injury cases throughout the State of Florida. If our injury law attorneys can be of any further assistance, do not hesitate to call us immediately for a free case evaluation and consultation. 727-451-6900. Please visit our website to learn more about Traumatic Brain Injury http://www.dolmanlaw.com/practice-area/brain-injury/

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Quick Facts about Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury

Roughly 1.4 million people in the United States suffer a traumatic brain injury each year. About 75 percent of these are a minor traumatic brain injury, or mTBI. An mTBI may cause temporary change in mental status including confusion, an altered level of consciousness, or perceptual or behavioral impairments. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (JAAOS), motor vehicle accidents and falls are responsible for most cases of mTBI. “Musculoskeletal injuries are often seen concurrently with some studies estimating that 50 percent of patients with orthopedic injuries also sustain a mTBI,” says lead study author Richard Uhl, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y.

Quick Facts About mTBI:

  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control declared mTBI a public health issue and a silent epidemic.
  • Patients with multisystem trauma and mTBI are almost twice as likely as those with multisystem trauma alone to have persistent cognitive impairment and to report symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
  • Patients with mTBI and lower extremity injuries are three times more likely to experience cognitive and behavioral difficulties at one year post-injury than those who sustain only lower extremity trauma.
  • When symptoms last for more than three months, a patient is said to have post-concussion syndrome, a disorder that can be associated with substantial financial, social and emotional issues.
  • Males from newborn to 4 years old are among the population most prone to suffering mTBI and have the highest rate of TBI-related emergency department visits.
  • Males are more likely than females in all age groups to sustain mTBI.

80 percent of patients who sustain an mTBI can be discharged from the hospital and will fully recover. Still, mTBI often goes undiagnosed because frequently symptoms do not become apparent until a patient resumes his or her everyday life. Part of the reason this happens is because a CT scan can come back normal even when a patient has an mTBI.

Up to 58 percent of patients will experience symptoms such as headache, fatigue, dizziness, anxiety, impaired cognition and memory deficits one month after injury. Up to 25 percent of those who suffer mTBI may have residual symptoms that sometimes lead to compromised function that can last for a year or more after the injury.

After an mTBI, patients are also at risk for Secondary Impact Syndrome (SIS) – sustaining a second concussion before symptoms of the initial concussion have healed, causing greater injury. According to study co-author and orthopedic surgeon Andrew Rosenbaum, MD, “second-impact syndrome can have devastating consequences, including rapid-onset swelling of the brain, worsening function of the brain, spinal cord, muscles or nerves, and instability of normal body functions.

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, consider contacting an experienced attorney who has knowledge of brain injuries and could potentially assist you in getting compensation for any negligently caused injuries. Call today. (727)451-6900. For more information about TBI, please read about our practice http://www.dolmanlaw.com/practice-area/brain-injury/

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Second Impact Injury

As Ryne Dougherty stepped onto the practice field with his football teammates at Montclair High School in New Jersey on September 18, 2008, he was determined to prove to his coaches that he was ready to be a varsity player. Fifteen minutes into practice the junior linebacker, standing 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 180 pounds, joined in on the tackle of a varsity player. As the play ended and the other players returned to their positions, Ryne was still on his back, complaining that his head hurt. When the school’s athletic trainer arrived on scene Ryne told her “I am dizzy and have a headache.” Minutes later, Ryne was vomiting as well.

Some 25 days later Ryne was back on the field for a junior varsity game against New Jersey powerhouse Don Bosco Prep. During a play in the first quarter Ryne was knocked on his back while attempting to make a tackle. After the play he was on the ground grabbing his head and clearly in pain. Although Ryne was able to get to his feet with the help of teammates, he collapsed before reaching the sideline and soon after fell into a coma. Ryne would die just two dies later.

In September of this year, the Montclair Board of Education agreed to pay Ryne’s family $2.8 million to settle a 2009 negligence lawsuit alleging that the school’s decision to let their son back on the field led to the 16-year-old’s death. Experts hired by Ryne’s family attribute his death to Second Impact Syndrome (SIS), an affliction that leaves its victims vulnerable to even the most minor blow to the head because the brain has yet to heal from a previous injury. Victims are almost always adolescents.

While this tragic story occurred outside of Florida, the issue of SIS and young athletes is especially relevant here in the Tampa Bay area where high school football is both highly competitive and popular. It is certainly a topic that young athletes and their parents would be wise to become more informed about what, including what SIS is and how it can be prevented.

SIS consists of two events. Typically, it involves an athlete suffering post-concussive symptoms following a head injury. If, within several weeks, the athlete returns to play and sustains a second head injury, cerebral swelling, brain herniation, and death can occur. While rare, SIS is especially devastating in that young, healthy patients can potentially die within a few minutes. Consequently, it is vital that physicians correctly diagnose concussion symptoms and counsel young patients and their parents when it is safe for the athlete to return to play. Unfortunately, in Ryne Dougherty’s case, a lack of oversight from both his own doctor and the school’s athletic trainer led to a preventable tragedy occurring.

So what can be done to prevent this from occurring again in the future? Doctors say that any athlete who still shows signs of concussion should not be allowed to return to play. Such signs include fatigue, headache, disorientation, nausea, vomiting, feeling “in a fog” or “slowed down”, as well as other differences from a patient’s baseline. The American Academy of Neurology has also released guidelines for the Management of Sport-Related Concussion. That being said, the difficulty lies in deciding the appropriate return to play when the athlete is completely asymptomatic. Parents, teachers, and coaches must observe the athlete closely. High school athletes, especially those with scholarship opportunities, will likely try and convince parents and coaches that they feel fine, in order to resume play sooner. If there are any doubts as to the severity of the injury, the patient or athlete should not be allowed to resume play.

If you or someone you know suffered a brain injury due to the failure of others to follow proper concussion guidelines it’s important to know what rights you have. You should consider contacting an attorney with experience handling brain injury cases who can help you evaluate whether you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. The qualified attorney’s at Dolman Law Group are here to help and can be reached at 727-451-6900. To read more about our practice please visit http://www.dolmanlaw.com/practice-area/brain-injury/

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The Role of the Neuropsychologist in Traumatic Brain Injury Cases

Over the past few years, Traumatic Brain Injuries have become a hotly contested issue in the sports, medical, and legal arenas.  As multi-million dollar sports-injury related lawsuits continue to gain attention in the media, medical and legal professionals continue to research how best to diagnose and prevent brain injuries.

At least 10 million TBIs serious enough to result in death or hospitalization occur annually. An estimated 57 people worldwide have been hospitalized with one or more TBISs, but the proportion living with TBI-related disability is not known.   In the US alone, an average of 1.4 million TBIs occur each year, including 1.1 million emergency department visits, 235,000 hospitalizations, and 50,000 death (as reported by US national data).  Those numbers actually underestimate the true burden of TBI, as they do not consider (1) the estimated 200,000 American with TBI treated yearly in outpatient settings, (2) TBIs treated in US military facilities worldwide, and (3) undiagnosed/misdiagnosed TBIs.  See here for more information on The Epidemiology and Impact of Traumatic Brain Injuries

The number of missed TBIs is a concern that is being aggressively addressed by doctors and researchers worldwide.   Although it is clear that most TBI patients suffer at least some acute cognitive difficulties, the nature and course of post-acute brain injury cognitive recovery remains an area of intense controversy.  Some cases of Mild TBI recover completely within the first three months, while others continue to report distressing symptoms for months or years post-injury. Frequently the complaints involve a constellation of physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms collectively known as post-concussion syndrome (PCS).  Experts continue to argue over whether PCS is over diagnosed or underdiagnosed, but it is clear that proper diagnosis requires more than just diagnostic testing.

Diagnosis is where a neuropsychologist’s work in a TBI case begins.  Objective evidence of cognitive impairment is part of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-4th Edition (DSM-IV) diagnostic criteria for PCS (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).  Therefore, documenting neuropsychological deficits is an important tool used to help establish the validity of symptom complaints, particularly in the medical-legal arena.  Neuropsychologists are trained to observe, assess, and recognize the relationship between the anatomy and physiology of the human brain and a person’s behavior.  These experts can help clarify and organize the clinical observations made by a TBI victim’s physicians.  Such clarification is critical in determining whether an injured person has TBI and the severity of said injury.

It is important to note that not all Traumatic Brain Injuries are created equally.  Most physicians consider a concussion to be a mild Traumatic Brain Injury or mTBI.  However, severity of symptoms is extremely variable even in mild cases of TBI such as concussions.   Many believe that loss of consciousness is required in order to diagnose a concussion. In reality a concussion may cause a loss of or change in consciousness, Post-traumatic amnesia, or all of the above.  Some victims recover within a number of weeks showing minimal effects; others experience debilitating symptoms that persist for years.  It should also be notes that as the number of TBIs experienced over a lifetime increases, both the short term symptoms and the long-term (permanent) effects.  Neuropsychologists know how to recognize each of the signs of TBI and use said symptoms to diagnose and create treatment plans for victims.

Ultimately, any person who suffers a closed head injury should consult with several doctors to ensure that all of the symptoms are documented.  The role of the Neuropsychologist in such cases is to assist in diagnosis through the recognition and documentation of behavioral and psychological changes.  Injuries that are not obvious to the naked eye are substantially more difficult for juries to comprehend.  This makes the Neuropsychologist’s role absolutely critical if a TBI victim is attempting to recover damages for his or her injuries through a lawsuit.

If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, don’t go it alone.  Contact an experienced personally injury attorney to protect your legal rights.  Dolman Law Group is always here for you in the event of a catastrophic injury.  If you ever have questions about your rights, please contact us at 727-451-6900.  Stay up on current information about Traumatic Brain Injury at http://www.tampabaybraininjuryblog.com/

 

 

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Traumatic Brain Injuries and How Just Following The Guidelines Can Saves Lives

Dr. Jamshid Ghajar, president of the Brain Trauma Foundation said, “Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in young people. Developing evidence-based guidelines and putting them into practice to improve outcomes are key priorities for the Brain Trauma Foundation.” Recently, a study showed remarkable reduction in deaths attributed to TBI in New York State.

Researchers documented a reduction in deaths of patients hospitalized in New York State with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) between 2001 and 2009. The Brain Trauma Foundation, in collaboration with the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, published “Guidelines for Management of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury” in 1986.

Researchers studied data from 22 trauma centers in New York State. Between 2001 and 2009, the drop in deaths at the trauma centers undeniably correlated to increased adherence to tenets of the Guidelines, particularly recommendations on monitoring of brain pressure and management of brain perfusion pressure.

As part of a quality improvement initiative supported by the New York State Department of Health, the Brain Trauma Foundation set up an online Internet database in 2001. The database contains data from pre-hospital sources, emergency departments, and intensive care units at 20 Level I and 2 Level II trauma centers in New York State.

With the database, known as TBI-trac®, trauma centers across the nation can upload data on patients with severe TBI. They are able to track adherence to the Guidelines. They can even test hypotheses that may lead to improvements in the Guidelines.

To track how effective the Guidelines have been in reducing the number of deaths due to severe TBI, Gerber examined data from the database for years 2001 through 2009, focusing on trends in adherence to the Guidelines. These trends were evaluated via data examination on intracranial pressure monitoring, nutritional intake, use of steroid medications, presence of systemic hypotension, and treatment of intracranial hypertension within the first 1 or 2 days of hospitalization.

Most remarkably, researchers examined changes in case fatality rates within 2 weeks after a severe TBI occurred. Studies reveal that approximately 85% of deaths from TBI occur during that time period.

The researchers saw a significant reduction in fatality rates from 22% to 13% over the 9-year period. There were signs that adherence to the Guidelines significantly increased over time, with use of intracranial pressure monitoring rising from 56% to 75% and adherence to recommended cerebral perfusion pressure treatment thresholds improving from 15% to 48%! Support for recommendations on nutrition increased from 41% to 50% and the proportion of patients with elevated intracranial pressure dropped from 42% to 29%.

Following the Guidelines’ recommendations concerning avoidance of steroid medications was high throughout the time period, and hospital rates of systemic hypotension in patients with severe TBI remained low.

The researchers found intracranial hypertension rates and death in patients with severe TBI decreased significantly over the 9-years, and decreases were related to increased monitoring of intracranial pressure and management of cerebral perfusion pressure. It follows that these are two major recommendations of the Guidelines.

Gerber and colleagues conclude that strict adherence to the Guideline’s recommendations re increased monitoring of intracranial pressure and management of cerebral perfusion pressure improved outcomes in patients with severe TBI. It seems a mystery why the “Guidelines for Management of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury”, published by The Brain Trauma Foundation, in collaboration with the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, has not been followed more strictly across the nation. This new study shows that following the Guidelines saves lives. Hopefully, New York will be an example to Florida and the entire nation. Traumatic Brain Injuries often lead to death, and if following a set of Guidelines can save lives and decrease fatalities, then why not?

Perhaps doctors who do not follow such established and documented Guidelines should be held accountable for the results. In a time where more and more news reports and showing high school football players and car accident victims dying due to a traumatic brain injury, this study can hopefully shed some new light on how doctors should handle the treatment of those suffering from a TBI.

If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury, consider contacting an experienced attorney who has knowledge of brain injuries and could potentially assist you in getting compensation for any negligently caused injuries. Call today. (727)451-6900. For more information about TBI, please stay tuned to http://www.tampabaybraininjuryblog.com/ for updated information.

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What Exactly is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) can be caused by a wide range of incidents, such as; car accidents, falls, assaults, and being struck by an object to the skull. The brain is remarkably complex, and what could seem like a simple accident could have long-lasting effects. Generally, the brain can be damaged in one of two ways; by external injury, which would leave visible marks, or by internal injury, where the injury is not visible. External injury results when an object strikes the head or, in the alternative, the head strikes the object. Internal injury occurs when the brain moves violently within the skull cavity.

TBI ranges from mild to severe. Even though one common misconception is that a person needs to lose consciousness to sustain a TBI, this is not necessarily true. In cases of whiplash, the brain rapidly accelerates/decelerates within the skull cavity. This often results in impairment of the cerebral nerve cells and fibers.  Car accidents, roller coaster or amusement park rides, during sport activities, or by being punched or shaken are leading causes of whiplash. The damage sustained can be microscopic, leaving modern technology, such as CT scans or MRI scans, incapable of visualizing or diagnosing the injury.

Instead, trained physicians diagnose their patients using the modified Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). The GCS is a neurological scale that objectively measures a person’s conscious state following a head injury. It specifically assesses a person’s eye, verbal and motor responses in order to determine the severity of head trauma.

Common symptoms of mild TBI may include: headaches, dizziness, loss of balance, nausea, mood changes, memory or concentration problems, sensitivity to light or sound, blurred vision, fatigue, difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual.

Currently, insurance companies rely on outdated “junk science” to defend against TBI claims. Instead of accepting the diagnosis provided by trained physicians that utilize the modified GCS neurological scale, they instead ask courts and juries to rely on common misconceptions that modern science has debunked, such as: the CT scan or MRI scan did not show visible damage therefore brain injury did not occur, a person must lose consciousness in order to sustain a brain injury, or insurance companies hire doctors that rely on limited facts and ignore an abundance of evidence, such as the circumstances of the head injury and the TBI symptoms affecting a person that manifests subsequent to the incident.

Fortunately, research continues that will lead to further awareness, diagnosis and treatment. The NFL and the Defense Department actively contribute to research efforts in mild traumatic brain injury. Additionally, the Obama Administration recently proposed $110 million in funding to further human brain research. Through these efforts, continued research, and the expertise of experienced brain injury attorneys, insurance companies will have a more difficult time hanging their hats on common misconceptions and antiquated science.

For more information on TBI’s and head trauma, call the the brain impairment attorneys of the Dolman Law Group for a free consultation and case evaluation.

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President Obama Promises $100 million to Brain Injury Research

In a promising sign for victims of traumatic brain injury, President Obama has announced a new brain mapping project that will fund research into the areas of Alzheimer’s, autism, stroke, and closed head injury. The project will allot $100 million dollars toward brain research and job creation. In support of this project, President Obama says, “As humans we can identify galaxies light-years away, we can study particles smaller than an atom, but we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears.”

The BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies), will attempt to record the electrical activity of each individual cell of the brain and the neural circuits that connect those cells. The $100 million will go to several different federal and private research institutes to fund the development of new technologies that will help spur the brain mapping project, as well as studying the ethical and legal repercussions of the project. The research is expected to start on the brains of small animals like flies, worms and mice before moving on to the more complex human brain.

The BRAIN Initiative is receiving praise from many neuroscientists and researchers across the country. Scientific Director and CEO of the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience David Fitzpatrick, calls the project “spectacular.” According to him, “We need this fundamental understanding of neuronal circuits, their structures, their function and their development in order to make progress on these disorders.”

Not everyone is as enthusiastic about the BRAIN Initiative however. University of California-Berkeley fruit-fly expert Michael Eisen criticizes the project as being far too ambitions, claiming that such scientific innovations are not the result of “centralized bureaucratic projects, but rather from individual labs.”

Other critics of the project focus more on its economic impact; $100 million is a lot of money for a government currently in a national sequester, cutting $85 million in government spending. In response to these critics, President Obama focuses on the hundreds of jobs that will be created in the research and implementation of the BRAIN Initiative. President Obama also cites the former success of the Human Genome Project, stating “Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy  – every dollar.”

We have previously blogged about traumatic brain injuries and the difficulties involved in both the diagnosis and treatment of these injuries. While the causes of these injuries are generally understood, they can be extremely difficult to diagnose due to the wide range of symptoms the victim may suffer. Traumatic brain injury symptoms can range from obvious physical signs such as leaking spinal fluid from the nose or ears, to “hidden” symptoms like tearing of the brain tissue or blood vessels in the brain. Victims of traumatic brain injury may also suffer serious emotional impact as a result of the injury, such as severe depression, difficulty focusing or remembering, or a lack of impulse control. These emotional effects of traumatic brain injury have been cited as contributing factors in the recent suicides of former NFL player Junior Seau and country music start Mindy McCready.

Overall, it seems that President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative is a huge step in the right direction to understanding the causes and treatments of traumatic brain injuries and other previously misunderstood diseases of the brain. Hopefully this project will result in a deeper understanding of the “three pounds of matter that sits between our ears,” and benefit victims of all types of brain injuries and diseases.

For more information on traumatic brain injury, or if you or someone you know is currently suffering from a traumatic brain injury as the result of someone else’s negligence, contact the experienced brain injury law attorneys at Dolman Law Group for a free consultation and case evaluation. 727-451-6900.

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Higher Rates of Traumatic Brain Injury Among the Homeless Population

We have previously discussed the varying symptoms of traumatic brain injury- ranging from changes in the brain injury victim’s ability to understand and absorb new information or remember previously learned information, to less obvious emotional symptoms like mood swings and depression. Recently, the media has focused on the emotional impact of TBI in discussing the suicides of former NFL player Junior Seau and country music star Mindy McCready. It is thought that both suicides were the result of a severe depression caused by previous trauma to the brain. Recent research shows that suicide is not the only concern relating to the emotional effects of traumatic brain injury.

A new study suggests that homeless individuals have a higher occurrence of traumatic brain injury than the general population. The study reveals that up to 53 percent of the homeless population suffers from traumatic brain injury and, of those, most of the injuries occurred before they were homeless. Dr. Jane Topolovec-Vranic (who conducted the study), notes that low rates of employment are common among victims of TBI. The changes in abilities to focus on tasks, remember assignments, or concentrate for an extended period of time make it extremely difficult for victims of TBI to carry out ordinary work functions. Further, the ability to control impulses present in a normal brain may be substantially altered for the victim of a brain injury. Combined, these factors can contribute to an already high risk of depression, making it difficult for some TBI victims to hold a steady job following their injury. The study also suggests that the impairments to the brain following the injury “may increase the risk of remaining homeless.”

It is important to remember that it is not only the victims of the injury that suffer from its effects. The emotional impairments caused by the injury can have serious effects on the victim’s friends and family, who may not understand or be fully equipped to handle these changes. Additionally the ever-rising number of unemployed and homeless Americans places a burden on society as a whole, as well as on the National economy. It is for these reasons that the Brain Injury Association of America and other organizations like it, focus on researching both the causes and treatments for TBI, as well as raising awareness of its effects to the general public. The more we understand these types of injuries, the better equipped we will be as a society to deal with the personal, social, and economic results caused by traumatic brain injuries.

For more information on the emotional and fiscal damage caused by TBI, please contact the experienced traumatic brain injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group for a free case evaluation and consultation at 727-451-6900.

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Should Boxing be Banned in Light of Brain Injury Concerns?

Recently there has been a lot of focus in the media on dangers associated with playing professional sports- particularly regarding the risks and dangers of traumatic brain injury. There are risks associated with participating in high contact sports like football and hockey. Recently, developments in the area of TBI research have caused professional boxing to come under some scrutiny as well. The frequent blows to the head incurred by professional boxers can cause tearing to the blood cells in the brain which, in turn, damage the nerve cells surrounding the blood vessels. These injuries can cause “tangles” to the nerve cells in the brain that- new research suggests- can develop and spread resulting in severe and lasting brain damage including TBI and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.

In order to prevent boxers from sustaining serious and lasting brain injuries from their involvement in the sport, one leading neuroscientist suggests a simple solution: ban boxing. John Hardy, chair of Molecular Biology of neurological Disease at University College London’s Institute of Neurology, suggests allowing women’s boxing in the 2012 Olympics was “a terrible thing” because the sport of boxing rewards its fighters for inflicting the maximum amount of damage possible on their opponent’s brain.  Dr. Hardy is worried that boxing will now become a mainstream sport for women as well.

While it is no secret that being struck repeatedly in the head can lead to an injury to the brain- even over a short period of time- the idea of banning an entire sport from the Olympics or the professional sphere in general seems, frankly, ridiculous. Banning boxing because some professional boxers have sustained serious brain injuries is akin to banning cars because drivers can be seriously injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents. Instead, legislatures have taken more appropriate steps such as implementing several rules and guidelines in an attempt to limit the number of injured drivers as much as possible: wear a seatbelt, drive the speed limit, and obey traffic signals. Similarly, the recent media attention to the death of former professional football player Junior Seau has led the NFL to consider taking additional safety precautions to prevent TBI to its players.

It seems then that boxing could, and probably should, follow in the footsteps of the department of transportation and the National Football League. Implementing new safety regulations in professional boxing would allow for the enjoyment of the sport by participants and spectators alike, while reducing the risk of injury to the boxers themselves.

I would like to see a protocol implemented by the various sanctioning organizations that would require diagnostic testing on fighters at specific intervals.  Further, boxers should be forced to undergo clinical examination every year in order to be cleared to fight.

Of course the best way to prevent injuries to the brain is to avoid activities with high risks of injuries. But that is not to say that people do not have a right to participate in those activities should they choose to do so. The answer lies not in eliminating every possible cause of brain injury; such would be impossible. Instead, the focus should be on furthering the research and development of treating the injury.  Understanding this logic, the NFL recently teamed up with General Electric Co to bankroll a $60 million research project into the area of traumatic brain injuries. Perhaps on the issue of traumatic brain injury, the World Boxing Association should steal a page from the NFL’s playbook.

Matthew A. Dolman, Esq., is a Florida brain injury lawyer and routinely blogs about the subject of traumatic brain injury at www.tampabaybraininjuryblog.com.

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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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