The Leading Factors For Brain Injuries In Children And Teens

Source:  Flickr

Source: Flickr

With the weather getting warmer, children will be spending more time outside, enjoying some of their favorite sports like football, soccer, and basketball. Kids love sports! It teaches them teamwork and planning strategies, and helps build friendships. And as much as kids like sports, teenagers love learning to drive and aim to receive independence from their parents via a driver’s license. This summer teens will be putting their pedals to the metal and test driving their new skills. So, since the spring and summer are so much fun for children of all ages, everyone should also be wary of the dangers that blows to the head in tackle sports and car crashes can have on children. Children from the ages of 0 to 19 have a greater risk for brain injuries than any other age, according to The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA).

According to Forbes, “[Of the}More than 55,000 teenage drivers and their passengers who were seriously injured in auto accidents during 2009 and 2010, 30 percent suffered acute head injuries, including concussions, skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries.”

Since playing sports and getting into car accidents are leading factors for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in children, parents should keep an eye on their children's behavior in case of head injury. The BIAA gives the following brain injury symptoms that parents should look out for that could impair a child’s physical, cognitive, and emotional being.

Symptoms of Child Brain Injuries

PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENTS COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENTS EMOTIONAL IMPAIRMENTS
speech short term memory deficits mood swings
vision impaired concentration denial
hearing slowness of thinking self-centeredness
headaches limited attention span anxiety
motor coordination impairments of perception depression
spasticity of muscles communication skills lowered self-esteem
paresis or paralysis planning sexual dysfunction
seizure disorders writing restlessness
balance reading lack of motivation
fatigue judgment difficulty controlling emotions

Brain injuries can affect a child in multiple ways, as shown in the above brain injury symptoms chart. Collectively, these TBI symptoms can affect a child’s school work, social life, and general way of life. And since the recent news about the NFL concussion scandals, TBIs have become household dinner table talk. All of the negative TBI press has caused parents to become more involved in their children’s physical activities and become reluctant to let their children play sports or learn how to drive. While it’s disheartening to kids to have their parents deny their enrollment in football camp, these parents may be making the right choice. After all, “Each year an average of 62,000 children sustain brain injuries requiring hospitalization as a result of motor vehicle crashes, falls, sports injuries, physical abuse and other causes. A staggering 564,000 children are seen in hospital emergency departments for brain injury and released,” the BIAA reports. And according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), “Sports and recreational activities contribute to about 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and adolescents.”

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Brain injuries happen, and they are an injury that nobody expects could happen to them. But for children with brain injuries, it’s even worse. The BIAA reports that, “The brain of a child is continuing to develop. The assumption used to be a child with a brain injury would recover better than an adult because there was more “plasticity” in a younger brain, but recent research has shown that this is not the case. A brain injury actually has a more devastating impact on a child than an injury of the same severity on a mature adult.”  This is why brain trauma is a topic that needs to be discussed more often and more openly by the public. The BIAA leads the charge in continuing the conversation on brain trauma during the month of March, which is Brain Injury Awareness month. While brain injury experts are studying how to heal traumatic brain injuries, it may be a while until a surefire treatment is created. Until then, since we can't bubble wrap children and forbid them to leave the house, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  provides the following tips to help prevent brain injury accidents from occurring. 

How to Prevent Brain Injuries In Children

1. Buckling your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt (according to the child's height, weight, and age).

2. Wearing a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.

3. Never driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

4. Wearing a helmet and making sure your children wear helmets when:

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  • Riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter, or all-terrain vehicle;

  • Playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing;

  • Using in-line skates or riding a skateboard;

  • Batting and running bases in baseball or softball;

  • Riding a horse; or

  • Skiing or snowboarding.

5. Making living areas safer for seniors, by:

  • Removing tripping hazards such as throw rugs and clutter in walkways;

  • Using nonslip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors; Installing grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower;

  • Installing handrails on both sides of stairways;

  • Improving lighting throughout the home; and

  • Maintaining a regular physical activity program, if your doctor agrees, to improve lower body strength and balance.

6. Making living areas safer for children, by:

  • Installing window guards to keep young children from falling out of open windows; and

  • Using safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs when young children are around.

  • Making sure the surface on your child's playground is made of shock-absorbing material, such as hardwood mulch or sand.

While the CDC's 5th tip may be for senior citizens, some of this advice may also be applicable to children. Plenty of children have fallen while running up and down the stairs without using handrails and many have tripped over a rug and hit their head. Vigorous play with toys used to entice children to take baths have also led to slip and fall accidents in the bath tub. 

The fact of the matter is that children always face the risk of traumatic brain injuries because most children are physically active. By monitoring a child or teenager's physical, cognitive, and emotional behaviors following a head injury, parents can help their children immediately receive any medical attention they may need.


Summer fun like playing sports or taking road trips may lead to brain injury accidents. After all, sports and motor vehicle accidents are some of the leading factors for brain injuries in children and teens. If you or anyone you is suffering from a traumatic brain injury or any car accident injury, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PC by calling 844.4MI.FIRM today. Our brain injury lawyers are available for a free legal consultation. 

Virtual Reality Treadmill Rehabilitates Neurological Patients

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A new treadmill developed by Motek Medical uses virtual reality (VR) to safely challenge patients with neurological impairments. Called CAREN (Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment), the platform has been tested by the Cleveland Clinic to help evaluate and train individuals with Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological conditions. The Cleveland Clinic is the first nonmilitary site in North and South America to install the interactive virtual reality treadmill. 

Specifically, CAREN analyzes balance, locomotion, and coordination in affected patients by placing them in an immersive and interactive environment. While a patient walks on the treadmill, surrounding visual projection, the floor, and the sound system react to the patient's behavior in response to real-time motion-capture capabilities. 

Another characteristic of CAREN is labeled '6-Degrees-of-Freedom,' and refers to the treadmill's ability to move up, down, left, and right and gives the platform simulator-like qualities. Real-time feedback merges data from CAREN's hardware to constantly perform quantifiable evaluation.

Physical Applications Of Virtual Reality Rehabilitation  

  • Identifying balance compensation anomalies.
  • Measuring and correcting gait problems from inefficient muscle use.
  • Identifying neural substrates of task difficulty and cognitive effort.

In less scientific terms, this means that the virtual reality treadmill has the capability to help zero in on physical and mental effects of neourological diseases, which will hopefully lead to improvements for people with brain conditions. By catering to a patient's customized needs and preferences, CAREN offers researchers future opportunities to make medical advancements for people suffering from degenerative brain diseases or traumatic brain injuries. 

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Since brain injuries may occur anytime and anyplace, from playing professional football, getting into a car crash or motorcycle collision, or even due to the circumstances of being homeless, technological developments are all the more necessary to help improve the lives of people suffering from neurological impairments. A virtual reality treadmill is just the latest in modern advancements for the brain, and hopefully there are many more creative treatments to come.


CAREN could be the future for people suffering from neurological conditions or traumatic brain injuries. If you or someone you know has experienced a brain injury from a motor vehicle accident, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

CTE Found In Brains Of Former NFL Players

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A study published on July 25, 2015 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA has found that CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, in 99% of deceased NFL players' brains that were donated to scientific research. CTE is an effect of experiencing numerous traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and although the average person is more like to suffer a TBI from an auto accident, TBI's can occur while engaging in sports. In fact, all of the brains in the study were required to have football as their primary exposure to head trauma. The research subjects must have had to experience repetitive head trauma in their lifetimes, but may or may not have exhibited CTE symptoms during their lives. 

What Is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?

To explain it more clearly, CTE is pathologically characterized by a buildup of abnormal tau protein in the brain that can disable neuropathways and may lead to a variety of clinical symptoms, such as memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, aggression, depression, anxiety, impulse control issues, and sometimes even suicidal behavior. CTE is found in individuals that have experienced repeated head trauma, and most cases were diagnosed in veterans and people who played contact sports like American football. The only formal diagnosis of this degenerative brain disease is through an autopsy, meaning that we can't knows if someone has CTE, for sure, until after they die. 

The study acknowledges potential bias because relatives of the players may have submitted their brains after noticing clinical symptoms while they were living. It also points out the lack of a comparison group to represent all individuals exposed to college-level or professional football. Without that, the study is unable to provide an overall estimate on the risk of playing football and its effects on the brain. 

CNN reports, "Out of 202 deceased former football players total--a combination of high school, college, and professional players--CTE was neuropathologically diagnosed in 177. The disease was identified in 110 out of 111 former NFL players. It was also found in three of the 14 high school players and 48 of the 53 college players."

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The NFL told CNN, "The medical and scientific communities will benefit from this publication, and the NFL will continue to work with a wide range of experts to improve the health of current and former NFL athletes...there are still many unanswered questions relating to the cause, incidence, and prevalence of long-term effects of head trauma such as CTE." 

The study looked at both the brain pathology, which is the behavior of the disease in the brain, and the clinical history of each participant. It identified four stages of pathological CTE severity among the brains, based on amounts of tau buildup and distribution. Stages one and two are classified as mild and stages three and four are severe. 

CNN summarized, "Individuals who were reported to have experienced more behavioral mood symptoms during their lifetime were more likely to have findings indicative of mild disease as opposed to severe. These symptoms occurred in 96% of mild cases and 89% of severe cases. People with a mild buildup and distribution of tau were also more likely to have died by suicide. Those with a severe buildup, on the other hand, were more likely to have experienced cognitive symptoms, such as memory loss." 

One of the biggest problems is a lack of encouragement for players to seek treatment. Stereotypes about mental health treatment and studies that emphasize problems stemming from brain trauma, without fully explaining the science behind it, may give athletes the idea that they can't do anything to help themselves. Although CTE can currently only be diagnosed after death, many symptoms of the disease that occur in someone's lifetime, like depression and anxiety, are treatable. It is important for someone experiencing symptoms from a traumatic brain injury to receive an evaluation from a neurologist and work with them to create a treatment plan. 

Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, national director of the Sports Neurology Clinic at the Core Institute, who was not involved in the study, said, "My rule as a physician, as a neurologist, is to protect and promote the brain health of my patients over the course of a lifetime, no question about that. You have to look at the total person though. You have to understand why people play sports. It's an individual decision, everybody gets different things out of it. You also have to understand what the arc of their life is going to be, what their health is going to be at the end of their career." 

Kutcher mentions that most of the brains in the study came from players that were on the field decades ago, from the 1950s to the 1990s, with the rest having played more recently. There were not the same brain injury awareness, medical protocols, or equipment back then as there is today. 

Dr. Ann McKee, director of Boston University's CTE center, and a coauthor of the study, are currently conducting more research on CTE and its effects. They are examining lengths of exposure to head trauma, the age of first exposure, the lengths of playing careers, and how these relate to the risk of CTE and its pathological severity. They are also using the 177 donated brains with CTE to discover if there are any genetic risk factors of the disease.

"It certainly can be prevented," McKee said, "'That's why we really need to understand how much exposure to head trauma and what type of head trauma the body can sustain before it gets into this irreversible cascade of events." 

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Additionally, in a statement commenting on the study, the league said, "The NFL is committed to supporting scientific research into CTE and advancing progress in the prevention and treatment of head injuries. In 2016, the NFL pledged $100 million in support for independent medical research and engineering advancements in neuroscience related topics. This is in addition to the $100 million that the NFL and its partners are already spending on medical and neuroscience research."

The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC Blog previously discussed that the NFL settled a class action with ex-football players who had suffered from brain injuries, potentially paying out $4 million, to those who suffered from CTE.


The start of fall means that football season is here, and football season means cleats on turf and helmets against helmets. As spirited at American become during this time of year, it's important to remember that repetitive head trauma caused by playing football may lead to CTE or other brain injuries. It should also be noted that traumatic brain injuries can be caused by experiencing a blow to the head in a motor vehicle accident. If you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic brain injury from a car crash, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation. Let us take care of your legal trouble while you focus on improving your health.

NFL Settled A Concussion Class Action Lawsuit

Research has drawn links between football players receiving multiple blows to the head and numerous degenerative brain diseases. Due to this research, a class action lawsuit was filed in by thousands of retired professional football players against the NFL, for hiding the risk of brain injuries that comes with playing in the league. An increasing number of NFL players are affected by the league's choice to not disclose the health risks of concussions and repeated blows to the head that come with playing on the professional level. CNN Money stated that the Supreme Court sided with the players, deciding in December, 2016 to not hear an appeal of the case. Any of the men who are found to be eligible for the settlement payments must have retired before July 7, 2014, and may be awarded up to $5 million each. Settlement amounts are based on the number of years played in the NFL, the severity of the player's brain disease, and age. Over 11,000 retired football players expect to receive their portion of the lawsuit settlement this year.

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The New York Times reported that two of these claims were recently settled on June 16, 2017 for a combined total of $9 million. Although the two claimants have gone unnamed, one NFL player's wife, Marlene Breasley, spoke of her husband, Terry Breasley, 66, who played for three years under the San Francisco 49ers. Marlene told CNN Money how beneficial the settlement money would be for her family if they are found to be eligible. Due to his years of playing football, Beasley continues to experience the effects of more than 40 concussions from his playing years, and is currently on more than 10 medications. His illness keeps him confined to his bed as he suffers from chronic headaches and short seizures all day. 

"He has trouble speaking. Terry gets injections for the pain, but it never goes away. He sleeps for a couple hours when he can until the pain gets so bad that it wakes him up," Marlene said.  "It's [the settlement money] going to help us buy the medicines he needs, get the physical help he needs from remodeling our house to make it handicap accessible to having someone with him 24 hours a day." 

It’s unfortunate that Beasley and so many other men are suffering from brain injuries caused by playing the sport they love, because according to the Brain Injury Society (BIS), sports are a relatively uncommon source of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among the general population. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that falls are the number one source of TBIs for the non-professional football playing population of America. The second most common cause for TBIs is unintentional blunt trauma followed by motor vehicle accidents. Still, TBIs are a major cause of death and disability in the US and contribute to 30% of all injury deaths. 

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People who are diagnosed with a TBI can suffer from a lifetime of effects, such as impaired memory, thinking, movement, sensation, and/or emotional function. Men and people ages 65 and up are more likely to suffer from TBIs than other members of the population, possibly explaining why NFL players are increasingly discovering the consequences of getting paid to hit their bodies against each other. According to CNN Money, there are a few types of degenerative brain diseases that also may be caused by a traumatic brain injury, that also affect how much money each ex-NFL player may be entitled to.

Degenerative Brain Diseases Caused By Traumatic Brain Injury

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

 According to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, CTE is a degenerative brain disease in which "a protein called Tau forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells." The unfortunate thing about this disease is that it can only be detected by autopsy, after a person's death. However, "early symptoms of CTE usually appear in a patient's late 20s or 30s, and affect a patient's mood and behavior. Some common changes seen include impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and paranoia." Relatives of NFL players who lost their loved ones to CTE may receive $4 million dollars from the NFL brain injury class action lawsuit settlement.

Alzheimer's and Dementia

According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's leads to nerve cell death and tissue loss within the brain. This causes the brain to shrink dramatically and affects all of its functions. NFL players who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's may be awarded $3.5 million.

The Alzheimer's Association explains dementia as a general term used to describe a severe decline in mental ability that can effect everyday life. Doctors have a hard time determining the extent of a patient's dementia because it affects every person's brain differently. Players diagnosed with moderate dementia might be awarded $3 million in this settlement while players with early dementia may be awarded around $1.5 million.

Lou Gehrig's Disease/Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

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The ALS Association explains that ALS is "a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. "A" means no. "Myo" refers to muscle, and "Trophic" means nourishment – "No muscle nourishment." When a muscle has no nourishment, it "atrophies" or wastes away. "Lateral" identifies the areas in a person's spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates, it leads to scarring or hardening ("sclerosis") in the region."

Though people know about ALS because it was the disease that caused Lou Gehrig to leave his successful baseball career, the degenerative brain disease was still unknown to many in our current generation. However, many people recently became educated on the disease due to very popular, social media "Ice Bucket Challenge," which raised millions of dollars for treatment. 

Due to the severity of ALS and the fact that it doesn't have a cure, players who have been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease may receive up to $5 million dollars in compensation from the NFL.  

Parkinson’s Disease (PD)

Parkinson's Disease, according to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, is "a chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that its symptoms continue and worsen over time." "Parkinson’s involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Parkinson's primarily affects neurons in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra. Some of these dying neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally." The cause of Parkinson's is currently unknown and there is no cure as of yet. Retired NFL players diagnosed with Parkinson's may receive $3.5 million from the settlement.

Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms

The CDC lists the following as symptoms for TBIs that people who have sustained a head injury should keep an eye out for. The symptoms typically fall into four categories.

Emotional/Mood

  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • More emotional
  • Nervousness or anxiety 

Sleep

  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Sleep less than usual
  • Trouble falling asleep

 

Thinking/Remembering

  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering new information

Physical

  • Headache
  • Fuzzy or blurry vision
  • Nausea or vomiting (early on)
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to noise or light
  • Balance problems
  • Feeling tired, having no energy
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While the families of these brain damaged football players might feel relieved that the compensation from the lawsuit might help them cover some medical bills, it is clear that they are more upset with the larger problem. That problem is that brain damage and brain diseases alter a person, sometimes indefinitely, and that these families aren't able to spend the same quality time with their loved ones that they used to. Some ex-NFL players are tied up in dealing with the stresses of medical appointments and medical bills instead of enjoying retirement.

While it's every child's (and some adults') dream to become a sports legend, most professional sports careers don't work out. People are more likely to sustain a head injury in a motor vehicle accident than in a Detroit Lions game! As such, anytime a person is involved in a car accident, or any time someone takes a blow to the head, it is important that they should immediately seek medical attention to rule out a traumatic brain injury.


Traumatic Brain Injuries are serious health issues that should not be ignored or taken lightly. Whether the brain injury was acquired through playing sports, a car accident, or by slip and fall, it is a good idea to err on the side of caution and seek immediate medical attention after taking a hit to the head. As the article shows, experiencing a TBI could cause long-term if not life-altering afflictions and problems for victims. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with a TBI after an auto accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer today.

Traumatic Brain Injuries Can Cause Epilepsy

No one can predict the outcome of a motor vehicle accident. In fatal vehicle collisions, it takes just seconds for a shiny new car to become a pile of metal, rubber, and plastic. Not only are automobiles ruined in traffic crashes, but the passengers inside may be seriously injured, if not dead. That's why safety precautions must be taken to help protect passengers in the instance that they are involved in motor vehicle collisions. One such precaution is always wearing a seat belt. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) seat restraints have saved 344,448 lives since 1975. Unfortunately, however, seat belts can't do it all, as they can't prevent head bumps and even cause whiplash injuries themselves. This is dangerous because what people may not know is that a momentary head bump or skull scrape in car crashes, may lead to a much more serious type of head injury and other brain related conditions, such as epilepsy. 

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

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A traumatic brain injury (TBI), as defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is "a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury." They can occur to anyone, from young children to older adults. TBIs can be mild, like " a brief change in mental status or consciousness, or severe, like, "an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury." Symptoms of a TBI include problems with thinking and memory, balance and sensations, language like talking, and emotions, such as depression, anxiety, and aggression. While not every head injury results in a TBI, people who sustain head injuries in automobile crashes are more likely to sustain TBIs due to the heavy force with which a head gets struck in a car collision. 


The Link Between Traumatic Brain Injuries and Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a type of brain disease that causes re-occurring seizures. Epilepsy may have a variety of causes, all depending on conditions that affect a person's brain. Some examples are a stroke or a brain tumor. TBIs can also trigger epilepsy in people, either right after an injury happens or months and even years later. Researchers have found that the more severe a TBI is, the greater chance there is that the person may develop epilepsy. 

Post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) and post-traumatic seizures (PTS) are two types of seizures caused by a TBI. PTS are seizures occurring in the first week after a TBI, while PTE is defined by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) as one or more unprovoked seizures that occur at least one week after a TBI. In PTE cases, 86% of patients experiencing one seizure at least one week after a TBI, experienced a second seizure within two years. This means that most of the time, epilepsy takes a while to be discovered. Just when people think they are in the clear from a severe motor vehicle accident, their traumatic brain injury comes back as a different monster.

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Epilepsy is difficult to pinpoint because seizures are different for different people. Some fall, cry out, or shake, while others become confused, twitch, or believe they see, taste, or smell something unusual. The lack of a definite, clear-cut diagnosis makes handling TBIs even more of a headache. Though it may seem difficult to comprehend until one witnesses it, people that learn to recognize the symptoms of a seizure may be able to offer assistance or contact a medical provider if needed. The sudden movement of body parts, unresponsiveness, lip-smacking or chewing, fumbling movements, and not being able to speak or understand others are all common symptoms of a seizure. Bystanders can assist someone having a seizure by making sure they don't fall and turning their head to the side so anything in the mouth, including saliva, does not block their throat. Check for a heartbeat and for regular breathing, starting CPR if there are no vital signs or calling 911 to alert medical professionals.

MRIs and other neuroimaging tests are recommended following the first post-traumatic seizure, as these tests can help look for brain abnormalities that might suggest a case of PTE. Preventative medicines may be prescribed by a doctor for seizures, and clinical observations by the Epilepsy Foundation further support using drugs early on after an injury, to help suppress the development of PTE. Though it is unlikely that current medicine will completely eliminate epilepsy, it can help control or stop seizures for a majority of people. 


How To Avoid Car Crash Brain Injuries

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In 2013, the leading causes of TBI-related deaths were falls for people 65 and older, and motor-vehicle crashes for people age 5-24. In an effort to reduce the number of motor vehicle accident traumatic brain injuries, safety precautions can be taken that may minimize the risk for traumatic brain injuries. Driving and riding safely is the number one step people can take towards safety. This includes wearing seat belts, using helmets on motorcycles and bicycles, turning on airbags, and seating children in passenger seats designed for them. People may also want to be mindful of where they are walking, so they may be less likely to be involved in a pedestrian car crash.

No matter what people do to increase their safety while on the road and on streets, head injuries can still occur from during car collision. Medical research and technological advancements are working to ease the pain and suffering from traumatic brain injuries, but the reality is that some people may experience epilepsy or seizures years after what they once thought to be just a simple bump to the head. TBIs are yet another consequence of car accidents, and though they cannot be completely prevented, recognizing the symptoms and responding with proper care may help car accident victims' health in the long run.


Head injuries, like those that can be caused by motor vehicle collisions, have numerous negative side effects. It is important to learn to recognize the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury, so as to help protect yourself and others. If you or someone you know has sustained a head injury or any other injury in a car crash, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

5 Years Later: Revisiting Michigan's No Helmet Law

Lawmakers and motorcyclists continue to rumble about the 2012 repeal of a Michigan law that previously required motorcyclists to wear a helmet at all times. The new version of the law gives motorcyclists the option to decide whether or not they want to wear a helmet. “Our perspective is that this is a freedom issue and an individual rights issue,” said Jim Roades of American Bikers Aiming Toward Education (ABATE) of Michigan, a nonprofit cycling rights group that was vital in the push for the 2012 repeal. When asked about a potential return of the mandate, Rhoades said, “We would fight tooth and nail. We want people to know we’re not going anywhere.” 

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The Republican-controlled Congress does not appear to be showing any signs of bringing back the mandate, although science and statistics reveal the price that’s paid when head meets pavement in a motorcycle crash. 146 people were killed in 2016 due to motorcycle crashes, according to Michigan State Police data, which is the highest number since 1985. MLive reports that from 2000 to 2011, an average of 112 motorcyclists were killed per year. From 2012 (when the law took into effect) to 2015, that number has averaged nearly 126 people. 

In a 2016 study of 345 motorcycle crash victims treated at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 10% of riders who were not wearing helmets died, compared to 3% of riders who did wear a helmet. The study also found that not wearing a helmet leads to more severe motorcycle crash head injuries, more days in intensive care, and more time on a ventilator. Additionally, getting into a motorcycle accident without a helmet and living to tell the tale will cost riders more, as the average hospital cost for non-helmeted riders was $27,760, 32% higher than for riders wearing helmets. 

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Dr. Carlos Rodriguez, a trauma surgeon at the hospital, told MLive that he happened to be on call the first few days following the law repeal. “We had three or four really bad motorcycle crashes and all of them had not been wearing helmets. It made an impression on me. I thought, ‘Wow, this is more than we normally see.'” The study also found that the number of riders brought to the hospital who had not been wearing a helmet during a crash had quadrupled. 

In 2014, Senator Rebekah Warren, a Democrat from Ann Arbor, Michigan introduced a bill that would restore mandatory helmet use in Michigan. The proposal was so unpopular among the legislators that it never even came to a vote. Warren once again proposed a similar piece of legislation in 2015, but it faced the same fate as the 2014 effort. “It’s very disappointing. This is really a public health issue. We are seeing a lot more injuries and deaths for people not wearing helmets,” Warren said. Warren has also stated that she is seeing growing support for restoring the law from medical groups. However, public support means little if the public doesn’t get a chance to vote on the issue. “I feel like with an issue like this, if we could actually have a hearing on what it means in our emergency room, what this means to our loved ones and what it means to all of taxpayers, I think you could change some minds,” Warren expressed. 

Senator Warren isn't the only one concerned about the risks to one's health that are created by choosing to ride without a helmet. Dr. Nicholas S. Adams of the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids recently led a study that found the number of skull fractures and other head and facial injuries doubled in the first three years following lawmakers' decision to make motorcycle helmets optional. Researchers estimate that the risk of facial trauma may be reduced by half and facial injuries by more than 30 percent just by wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle. Despite these facts, a third of motorcyclists do not wear helmets, even in states where they are required.   

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Under current law, riders 21 and older may ride a motorcycle without a helmet as long as they pass a safety course or have ridden a motorcycle in the past two years. They are also required to carry $20,000 in medical insurance. Michigan became the 31st state to allow motorcycles to ride without helmets when Governor Rick Snyder signed the bill that was twice vetoed by former Governor Jennifer Granholm. For the time being, it seems the laws will stay the same. Snyder reportedly does “not have any initiative underway to revisit the law," contrary to advice from doctors and researchers such as Adams, who say, "We urge state and national legislators to re-establish universal motorcycle helmet laws."

Motorcycle crashes can put riders, passengers, and other people on the road at risk of a severe injury or fatality. The easiest way to help prevent getting hurt from a motorcycle accident is to wear protective headgear. The endless discussion on whether or not helmets should be required will likely go on for years to come. Yet one thing remains clear: nothing bad ever came from wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle. 


Previously, The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog discussed helpful tips on how to safely ride a motorcycle. In this article, wearing a helmet was the number one tip. Wearing a helmet can be the difference between a trip to the hospital and a trip to the morgue, and in a state with poor road conditions like Michigan, you can never take too many safety precautions. If you or somebody you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident or an automobile crash involving a motorcycle, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys are experienced in working side by side with victims to identify possible legal solutions. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Dangers of Traumatic Brain Injuries

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) generally  occurs when brain function disruptions are caused by injury to the head. These injuries vary in severity and can cause symptoms such as impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation, or emotional functioning.  This means that changes in vision, hearing, personality, and mood may occur. Oftentimes, mild TBIs are known as concussions and are more common than severe, long term injuries. 

Some traumatic brain injury accident victims experience dizziness, vertigo, mood swings, headaches, and even strokes.

A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 138 people die daily from TBI related injuries. In 2010 alone, traumatic brain injuries caused the ER visits, hospitalizations, and deaths of 2.5 million Americans.  Of these 2.5 million people, 2.2 million people went to the ER, and later 280,000 of them were hospitalized and 50,000 of them passed away as a result of their injuries.
 
Generally, men tend to visit the ER with TBIs more often than women do. Also, children under the age of 4 and young adults between the ages of 15-24 present at the ER with a greater number of TBIs  than any other age groups. For children under the age of 4, falling down is the main cause of TBIs whereas for young adults between 15-24, motor vehicle accidents are the main cause of TBI. In fact, for people between the ages of 15-64, motor vehicle traffic crashes are one of the primary causes of traumatic brain injuries.
 
No matter a persons age, riding in a car and being involved in any form of motor vehicle accident may cause traumatic brain injuries. From a light tap to the head resulting in a minor concussion to major penetrating head wounds, TBI’s are very common results of auto and motorcycle accidents. Without proper medical treatment, TBIs can become major afflictions to wellbeing of auto accident victims.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our experienced team is highly qualified in handling traumatic brain injury lawsuits. Our firm will ensure that you get the care you require and any benefits you deserve. Call us today, at 844.464.3476, for a free consultation.

Source:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention