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Athletes Still Face Severe Brain Injury Risks

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

The National Football League (NFL) will pay out more than $500 million to former players due to its negligent handling of brain injuries to players. The NFL agreed to settle the case, which claimed the league put players at the unnecessary and dangerous risk of multiple concussions, leading to long-term cognitive disabilities and conditions.

The devastating and irreversible conditions from which former players suffer include:

This season, the league claimed that it took additional steps to try to prevent any further brain injury claims, though these steps seemed to result in more confusion than player protections.

New Tackling Rules

The NFL instituted a new Use of Helmet rule for the 2018 season, disallowing any players from using a lowered helmet to contact another player. In theory, this rule would prevent players from directly hitting their heads into others during the game, limiting head and brain trauma. In reality, however, players claim that the new rule may prove impossible and even dangerous to follow.

When a player tackles another, helmets will often make contact whether they mean to or not. If players are too afraid of violating the new rule, they may focus on lower body tackles, causing more severe and unnecessary knee and leg injuries. Furthermore, new rules take adjustment periods for both players and officials. Some players responded they would definitely violate the rule at some point, even if unintentionally, which puts those not expecting such helmet tackles at risk of unexpected hits. We will see whether this new rule works to protect players or creates additional risks.

Helmet Technology

The NFL also recently focused on the effectiveness of the league-approved helmets in protecting players from serious brain injuries. A study resulted in the banning of 10 different helmet models, which even star players such as Tom Brady commonly wore. Players who wore the unsafe helmets for years may have the right to bring products liability claims if they suffered brain damage as a result of the insufficient protection.

In addition, some players began wearing helmets with new technology, called the safest helmets when it comes to traumatic brain injury protection. The problem with new helmet technology—or any new product—is that it could take time to realize the risks that still exist. Players may begin wearing these helmets, believing they have adequate protection, when they actually continue to risk severe injuries. This could also lead to coaches leaving players wearing these helmets in a game after blows to the head, as they falsely believe there is no risk of a brain injury. Such a situation can lead to inadequate treatment of brain injuries and an increased risk of subsequent life-threatening brain injuries.

Younger Players Face Risks, Too

While these issues play out with great publicity at the NFL level, college, high-school, and grade-school football players can also sustain concussions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that every year, about 135,000 athletes between five and 18 years old receive emergency room treatment for a sports-related concussion. The CDC, however, estimates that as many as 3.8 million athletes suffer from concussions annually, but don’t get treatment. The number of sports-related concussions among youth ages 14 to 19 tripled between 1997 and 2007. The biggest source of sports-related brain injuries is football.

Discuss Your Disabilities With Our Los Angeles Brain Injury Lawyers

The attorneys at Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, recognize the risks of severe and disabling brain injuries for athletes of all ages. If your child suffered a life-changing and permanent traumatic brain injury, please call our office at (310) 576-1200 or contact us online to discuss your legal options for free today.

What are the warning signs of a serious brain injury?

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

A traumatic brain injury is an extremely serious condition that can happen after a blow to the head. This can occur during a car accident or some other kind of incident. One of the biggest issues with TBIs is that they are not always discovered by the victims and their medical providers. It is important, therefore, to look for the signs of a serious brain injury so that appropriate medical care can be administered as quickly as possible following the accident.

Sometimes, if the accident victim suffered from what is commonly called a “closed head wound,” it may not be immediately apparent that the individual has a brain injury. However, there are some specific things that one should look for. For example, problems remembering events and confusion are important signals that a brain injury may have occurred. An unusual amount of sluggishness or tiredness could also be a sign of a TBI condition.

If an individual is nauseous and vomits or is experiencing dizziness when standing up, walking around or even when sitting down, these are other signs that a brain injury may have happened. Weakness and/or numbness in a particular part of the body could be an indication of a TBI. Furthermore, if the victim is experiencing severe headaches following an accident, it may be something to have examined by a medical provider.

California car accident victims should always keep in mind how difficult it is to diagnose TBIs. In fact, a doctor or nurse may give a patient a clean bill of health, only to have that patient later return with strange symptoms that are difficult to explain — but end up being caused by a brain injury.

Source: Findlaw, “Brain injury overview,” accessed May. 26, 2015

Traumatic brain injury litigation in California

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

Every year, 1.4 million United States citizens suffer a traumatic brain injury. These individuals often suffer a lifetime of disabilities and health problems stemming from those injuries. However, the general public remains ignorant to the fact that so many people are suffering from the condition.

Indeed, one of the most difficult aspects of TBI is the fact that people who suffer from such an injury often do not show any outward signs of their plight. This can make it a challenge to successfully prove the extent of a victim’s injuries to a California judge and jury during a personal injury case.

At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, we have handled countless TBI cases on behalf of our clients and we are intimately familiar with the unique challenges presented by the litigation of such claims. Many of our clients can talk and walk perfectly well; however, they suffer from life-impacting impairments relating to cognitive functionality, memory loss, behavioral and personality disorders, depression and emotional issues. For example, some of our clients — appearing fine during normal everyday contact — might have a hard time doing routine tasks like drinking from a glass of water or trying to tie their shoes.

The human brain remains largely a mystery to doctors and scientists; therefore, the treatment, diagnosis and evaluation of TBI is often subject to debate. This is why, at Greene Broillet and Wheeler, we often employ the services of leading brain injury expert witnesses to build and strengthen the personal injury cases of our clients. This way, our clients can accurately assess the full-extent of injuries to seek a fair and appropriate level of financial restitution in their cases.

What does ‘brain dead’ mean?

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

When an individual is pronounced ‘brain dead,’ it means that the brain has completely died and will never be able to recover. However, in brain death cases, the heart is still beating and the lungs are still breathing through machine assistance, so it can be hard for loved ones to imagine that their loved one is actually gone.

According to most doctors, brain dead individuals are truly dead, even if their other organs are still operating through the help of machines. For this reason, some doctors do not like to use the words “life support” to refer to ventilator systems and other machines that are used to keep blood flow and breathing constant in brain death victims. This can make it easier for loved one’s to let go and finally disconnect the machine.

Brain death usually begins as the result of a catastrophic neurological injury. Such an injury can happen due to stroke from a ruptured blood vessel, a traumatic brain injury from an accident or due to a cardiac event like a heart attack. Ultimately in these cases, the brain is denied vital nutrients and oxygen that it requires to survive.

Still, it is vital that doctors recognize the difference between a brain dead patient and a patient that is in a coma. For this reason, unconscious patients should be monitored at least one time per hour to check for certain kinds of responses like moving eyes, talking, mumbling and other things.

Loved ones of brain dead accident victims may have strong claims for financial recovery relating to medical costs and wrongful death damages if the accident was caused by another party’s negligence.

Source: WebMD, “What brain-dead means,” accessed July 27, 2015

How does a brain injury affect the 3 types of memory?

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

Having a disability such as brain injury is difficult at best. Most people don’t realize that a slip-and-fall can cause you problems with three types of memory: short-term, immediate memory and long-term memory. People generally tend to lump all three together and say that a person has either “good” or “bad” memory.

Immediate memory is the ability that you have to store information for a short time, sometimes just a few minutes, and then let it go after you don’t need it anymore. For example, if you call directory assistance and ask for a phone number, your immediate memory will help you remember this number until you have dialed it. Most people who suffer brain injury don’t have any type of problem with immediate memory. It is their short-term memory that suffers.

Short-term memory is a thought that you keep in your head for about 30 minutes. If your spouse tells you to please go to the store and get eggs, milk, bread and a newspaper, you immediately remember what she or he said. But by the time you get to the store all you remember are the eggs. In people who have suffered from head injury this can be a very significant problem. There are coping tools but, more importantly, how can you hold down a job if you can’t remember things past three minutes? No amount of sticky-notes will help you.

Long-term memory is information we can recall after a day, a week a month, a year or longer. For brain-injured people they can tell you what happened 10 years ago, they just can’t tell you what happened 10 minutes ago. When you suffer an injury to your brain, it is hard to transfer memories from short-term to long-term. Time is literally flying by for them because they can’t remember the events of the day.

If you have suffered a debilitating injury to your brain, there may be things that you want to discuss with a loved one who can help tell your story to an attorney. Perhaps there is some sort of recompense from the injury. Lost wages and medical bills can add up.

Source: tbiguide.com, “Memory,” accessed Sep. 01, 2015

What is a mild traumatic brain injury?

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

As common as concussion injuries are, it is important to remember that these are a form of traumatic brain injury — mild traumatic brain injury to be precise. In terms of what a concussion or MTBI is, though, there are couple different medical definitions of the condition. This article will discuss those definitions and other general information about the treatment of concussion injuries.

One generally-accepted definition of concussion simply defines the condition as an alteration of mental status induced by trauma. Another broader definition refers to a concussion as a trauma-caused physiological disruption of brain function that exhibits the following possible symptoms: loss of consciousness, alteration of personality or mental state, memory loss or focal neurologic deficits.

Mild traumatic brain injury concussion injuries are particularly common in athletes. Following a concussion, the athlete might appear confused or have a blank expression. Emotional changes and delayed responses to simple questions could also be evident. Signs of MTBI also include dizziness, pain, amnesia, visual disturbances and persistent vomiting.

Mental and physical rest is the most important part of treating concussions. Neuropsychological testing is also important to ensure that the brain is properly healing. Fortunately, in the majority of MTBI cases, patients recover after 48 or 72 hours. Persistent headaches usually disappear after two to four weeks. However, in some cases, an original diagnosis of MTBI could be elevated to a more severe condition and symptoms could persist for years or victims might never fully recover.

California residents who have suffered a concussion, even if it is mild, could incur high medical costs relating to their treatment. In cases where a concussion or brain injury was caused by another person or party’s negligence, people with MTBI may have the ability to pursue compensation for those costs in court by holding the negligent party liable.

Source: Medscape, “Concusssion,” accessed Oct. 07, 2015

Signs and symptoms of a head injury

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

A head injury is sometimes difficult to diagnose because patients who are hurt very badly in their brain may not exhibit very many signs of external damage. For this reason, the Glasgow Coma Scale has become the primary way of rapidly assessing the extent of a head injury.

The GCS provides a score based on various external signs of head trauma. The list of symptoms that the GCS looks for include:

— Bleeding or bruising of the scalp and head, and blood behind the tympanic membranes or blood in the ear canal

— Anosmia, which is the inability to perceive smells

— Abnormal post-resuscitation pupillary reactivity, which has to do with the size of the patient’s pupils

— Isolated internuclear ophthalmoplegia, which has to do with abnormal eye movements

— Cranial nerve palsy, which affects the patient’s ability to control the eyes and other parts of the head

— Hearing loss

— Dysphagia, which is difficulty swallowing

— Local motor problems such as weakness or paralysis in different limbs.

In addition to the above, doctors will also look for problems relating to cognitive deficiencies, and issues with consciousness, orientation and attention. Sometimes, patients show different kinds of cognitive problems, such as not having the ability to remember new information. Doctors have a variety of cognitive tests they can give to patients to evaluate their cognitive faculties.

There are also a number of imaging tests that can show the presence of head injuries. These tests include magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography scanning and electroencephalography.

It is important to note that none of the above tests and imaging technologies will always show conclusive evidence of a head or brain injury. For this reason, personal injury plaintiffs with head injuries may need to employ the services of a medical expert witness to prove their head injury damages in court.

Source: Medscape, “Head Injury,” David A Olson, MD, accessed Oct. 22, 2015

What is brain injury fatigue?

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

One of the worst symptoms that brain injury patients experience while recovering from their trauma is that of fatigue. Brain injury fatigue relates to the issue of tasks — that were once very simple to complete — being very taxing to perform due to microscopic injuries to different parts of the upper brain stem and cerebral white matter.

For example, brain injury victims may experience difficulty with concentrating, reading for meaning, keeping distractions at bay, monitoring ongoing performance, completing mental calculations, planning activities and understanding conversations with background noise. This difficulty causes fatigue and an extreme sense of tiredness. Many brain injury sufferers may be completely exhausted by midday or late afternoon. This fatigue causes actions that were formerly difficult to be come next-to-impossible to complete.

Often, brain injury victims feel the most fatigue when they are at their desks trying to work, while reading or while trying to complete any other kind of activity requiring concentration. In the early stages following a brain injury, physical activity could also trigger fatigue.

Because external injuries heal following an accident, a persistent brain injury may not be visible to family members and friends. As a result, a brain injury sufferer who complains of fatigue may not be completely understood by family members and friends. Friends and family might encourage the injured person to push through the difficulty, but this can result in worsened symptoms.

California residents who believe they may have suffered a brain injury in an accident should seek medical attention immediately. If the accident was caused by another party’s wrongdoing or negligence, the injured person may also wish to investigate the possibility of pursuing financial restitution through a personal injury lawsuit.

Source: Subtle Brain Injury, “Brain injury fatigue,” accessed Nov. 03, 2015

What is the Glasgow Coma Scale for brain injuries?

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

When a person suffers a brain injury, the Glasgow Coma Scale is often used to determine the extent of the injuries. The higher the score, the less likely severe brain damage in the person is. Anyone who has a loved one who suffered a brain injury should understand some basic points about the GCS.

What is measured by the GCS?

The GCS measures three categories — eye opening, verbal interaction and motor skills. Each of those three categories has different levels of skills that are assigned a number. For example, a person who doesn’t open their eyes at all gets a score of 1, a person who has no verbal interaction gets a score of 1 and a person with no motor skills gets a score of 1. When added together, that would be a total of 3 points.

What do the scores mean?

A person who has a score of 13 or greater is said to have a mild brain injury. A person with a score of 9 to 13 is said to have a moderate brain injury. A person with a score of 8 or less is said to have suffered a severe injury to the brain.

What is the purpose of the GCS?

The GCS helps to guide physicians when they are making a care plan for a person who suffered a brain injury. On top of the score, the person’s age, health history and a host of other factors are also considered.

If your loved one has suffered a brain injury, you should work with the medical care team to determine the extent of the injury to the brain. That is a starting point for the road to recovery. If the accident was caused by another person’s negligence, explore your options for seeking compensation.

Source: Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, “Brain Injury: Severity Levels and the Recovery Process,” accessed Dec. 21, 2015

What is rehabilitation like after a brain injury?

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

The effects of a brain injury vary greatly from one case to the next because of the variety of injuries that can occur to the brain. The variety of injuries and effects means that a person who needs rehabilitation after a brain injury will likely have to go through a personalized rehabilitation program.

What is the goal of rehabilitation after a brain injury?

The ultimate goal of rehabilitation is to help people to recover as much of their previous function as possible. In most cases, returning to the pre-injury levels of skills isn’t possible. As they go through rehabilitation, the person will learn how to do basic skills again if those skills were lost because of the injury. Another goal of rehabilitation is to help those who help care for the victim to understand the ways they can help the person. It can also help to set expectations for the future.

When should rehabilitation start?

Rehabilitation should be started as soon as possible after the injury. Many patients with a brain injury will begin a physical therapy program while they are still in the hospital. Some people who have a brain injury might end up needing intensive rehabilitation that requires them to move into a specialized center.

The rehabilitative care that is necessary after a brain injury is costly. People who suffered a brain injury in an accident that was caused by negligence might opt to seek compensation for their injury. Determining whom to hold liable and what damages to seek are critical in all personal injury cases, including those related to a brain injury.

Source: Brainline.org, “Brain Trauma, Concussion, and Coma,” accessed Dec. 29, 2015

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