Why are Incidents of Traumatic Brain Injury on the Rise?

Traumatic brain injuries have been on the rise in the US for the past several years. Over two million potential brain injury cases are seen in emergency rooms each year for falls which contribute to such injuries, but car accidents are one of the leading causes too, as well as other traffic incidents such as motorcycle, pedestrian, and bicycle accidents.

Medications Often Behind Greater Head Injuries During Accidents

More people are traveling on the roads today, which unfortunately leads to more accidents—and more head injuries like concussions and TBIs. Sporting accidents (often football or basketball especially) are often to blame for such traumas too, and in some cases, athletes may experience repeated blows to the head, raising extreme cause for concern. Today, however, some medical professionals point out that they are seeing more TBIs from falls that may often seem less serious but turn into serious problems if older patients are on medications that cause other issues; for instance, if someone falls and they are on an anticoagulant, there is a much greater chance for a brain bleed. Medications in general can cause a patient’s fall to become more serious if they are already feeling disoriented or off balance.

Traumatic Brain Injuries May Be Difficult to Diagnose at First

A TBI may not always be immediately apparent, which can make diagnosis difficult in the beginning. In more severe cases, it could be obvious something is wrong as the individual is knocked unconscious, goes into a coma immediately, or has seizures. Whether the injury is moderate or severe, symptoms can range from headaches and nausea to extreme moodiness, lack of ability to sleep or oversleeping, lack of coordination, slurred speech, and more. Children may exhibit the same types of symptoms if they have experienced a head injury but may require more attentiveness and monitoring in diagnosis if they are not old enough to talk or explain how they are feeling physically.

The outcome for the patient with a TBI is usually better if a fast diagnosis is made by medical professionals. Diagnostic tools include MRIs and CTs as well as tests to evaluate the patient’s coordination. Treatments vary, but can be used to help with ongoing pain, seizures, and help prevent further damage to the brain.

Contact Us for Help Now!

If you or your child have experienced a traumatic brain injury due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Serious Mood Changes May Be Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

The traumatic brain injury is one of the worst for many reasons—and may often be the result of a car wreck or serious motorcycle crash—along with numerous other accidents.

The effects of such an injury may not always be definitive at first, and unusual symptoms and erratic behavior may become apparent to family members first.

Problems from a TBI Can Be Long-lasting

After a blow to the head, the TBI is usually caused as the brain is jostled around. This may be minor or severe—and the repercussions may be temporary or long-lasting.

The symptoms can be delayed, but if you or a family member have been affected, the TBI may manifest itself with loss of consciousness, headaches, nausea, and even coma.

These types of injuries are classified as mild, moderate, and severe—but all forms of the TBI should be taken seriously and monitored closely.

Others May Be the First to Notice Mood Changes

Unfortunately, different behavior in personality and mood swings are all too common after such an injury. And while the individual who was hurt may not be aware of the issue or the severity of the trauma, others may notice obvious signs of disorientation, as well as a sudden inclination to become angry or agitated.

Depression and anxiety may be caused by changes in the brain due to the injury, leading to a host of different symptoms. Striking a large percentage of those affected by a TBI, individuals may feel a sense of hopelessness as well as increasing sadness, and they may begin to avoid others and isolate themselves.

They may have difficulty concentrating, sleeping, and may seem to have much less energy than before. Suicidal thoughts may be present as well, making the condition even more threatening to their well-being.

Other Serious Health Issues May Be Present

While medications such as antidepressants can help with the TBI, there may be other more serious issues as well, ranging from loss of memory to lack of coordination, seizures, coma, and even death.

TBIs affect 1.7 million each year, with children and seniors being most vulnerable—and according to the CDC, those 75 and older are most likely to be in the hospital or even die due to a TBI.

Contact Us for Help Now

If you or a loved one have been affected by an injury caused by the negligence of others and are seeking a skilled traumatic brain injury lawyer, contact Heintz & Becker today.

Our attorneys have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

 

Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injuries: Warning Signs

If you have kids, chances are you have spent an inordinate amount of time over the years trying to keep them safe. Each stage of childhood seems to have its challenges, from toddlers ready to dive into and off nearly anything that seems particularly dangerous, to teenagers who usually bring an entirely new set of challenges—and may also be heavily involved in sports activities known to result in a wide range of injuries.

Bumps, bruises, scrapes, and sometimes even breaks are to be expected in life, no matter how hard we work to prevent any hurt or discomfort from affecting our family members. Accidents happen, and sometimes they can be so severe that the healing process is lengthy. In some cases, and especially with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), the injury may be so devastating that the harm done is irreparable or even fatal.

Any type of head injury should be taken seriously, and young children should be monitored even more closely as they may have trouble explaining how they are feeling—or may be too stunned by an injury to do so. Such injuries may occur during sports activities, or due to a blow to the head after a major accident such as a car or bicycle accident. Negligence on the part of others often plays a part in catastrophic injuries, and if you or a loved one have been affected, contact an experienced injury attorney from a firm like Heintz & Becker as soon as possible.

Symptoms such as loss of consciousness, seizures, disorientation and headache are common in head injuries, but sometimes the signs of a TBI are not apparent for a while. Watch for indications such as:

  • Lack of interest in eating (or nursing, if the child is much younger)
  • Changes in sleep patterns, whether overly drowsy or unable to sleep
  • Concerning mood changes, irritability, or continual crying
  • Unusual inability to focus

TBIs are classified as mild, moderate, and severe, and can cause death in some cases. While traumas such as falls or accidents at school are often to blame, car accidents due to the negligence of others are a common cause of TBIs. Seek medical advice immediately if you suspect a head injury in your child (even a moderate one), or other complications after an accident.

If you or a loved one have been affected by an injury caused by the negligence of others and are seeking a skilled traumatic brain injury lawyer, contact Heintz & Becker today. Our attorneys have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Motorcycle Accidents: Traumatic Brain Injuries All Too Common

Although your drive to work today and back—and perhaps a quick stop to the drugstore or grocery store—may have seemed safe enough and completely without complication, there is no doubt that the roads can be a deceptively dangerous place. Traffic injuries and fatalities have been on the rise, with tens of thousands killed each year, and millions injured in car crashes.

Other motorists can be your greatest danger. Although drivers who are inexperienced, impaired, or tired are major concerns, distracted driving is an enormous threat today to everyone on the road. And due to their vulnerability, motorcyclists must practice even greater diligence as they travel the roads and highways of the US. Data available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that nearly 5,000 motorcyclists died in 2016. Of those fatalities 61 percent were wearing their helmets.

In the case of a motorcycle accident, and especially in more violent crashes with cars, all involved—but especially the motorcyclist and any passengers—are at risk for traumatic brain injury (TBI). This is a scenario where all the ingredients are present for catastrophe, and especially if the motorcyclist or their passenger is not wearing a helmet. The impact of hitting the pavement can be severe, even if the motorcyclist is traveling at a relatively slow speed when struck or becoming involved in an accident.

The traumatic brain injury ranges from mild to severe and may even include permanent brain damage or result in fatality. The recuperation time after such an accident can be long-term, and it may be difficult for someone who has experienced a TBI to go back to work either temporarily or permanently. Symptoms vary, to include:

  • Mild – drowsiness, headaches, memory loss, sleep issues, anxiety and depression
  • Moderate to Severe – loss of consciousness, vomiting, seizures, weakness, lack of coordination, confusion, sleep issues, speech issues, and more

If you have experienced a serious blow to the head after a motorcycle wreck, or due to any other accident, seek medical help as soon as possible. Any state of unconsciousness should raise major concern and be addressed quickly.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Major Head Injury: Serious Damage to Brain Cells Begins Shortly After Trauma

If you have experienced a minor knock on the head at any point, then you probably remember how painful that was. You may have worried about bruising, bleeding, or even a concussion. Most likely, the result was a headache that resolved itself in a reasonable amount of time—and if not, then you probably had to seek medical attention. The skull can withstand an enormous amount of force, but the inner portion of the cranium is more vulnerable to pressure and damage from head injuries. If you or a loved one have sustained a major concussion or traumatic brain injury, the symptoms can range from mild amnesia and vomiting to extreme confusion, lack of coordination, depression, mood swings, and even coma.

Other Complications May Accompany Head Injuries

Medical treatment should be sought immediately in the case of a serious head trauma. Not only should the head injury be assessed, but there may be accompanying complications or injuries to other parts of the body also. Recently, a study performed by researchers at the Brown University School of Engineering focused on what happens to brain cells upon impact. The team was in the news regarding their findings as they followed damaged cells through the first 24 hours following trauma. They believe that their research may help medical professionals find better ways to treat concussions and traumatic brain injuries in the future.

Damage is Caused to Cells Within Six Hours After Trauma

One of the most stunning realizations from the study, ‘Strain and rate-dependent neuronal injury in a 3D in vitro compression model of traumatic brain injury,’ is that serious damage can be done in the first six hours after injury to the brain.

“I think what was striking to us was within the first four to five hours, you see no difference at all. The cells look healthy, and you think everything is OK,” Christian Franck, Brown University researcher and co-author of the paper, told CNN.

“Then, about by five to six hours, you see that the structure is changing, and then it starts to change rapidly and degenerate, and it’s dead within a few hours. That was certainly surprising to us,” he added. “It gives us a starting point to understand how much time we have to therapeutically intervene.”

Immediate Medical Help Can Make a Great Difference

Futuristic new treatments may become available soon, such as a specialized inhaler for cooling down brain tissue, but this study shows just how important it is to seek medical attention quickly if you have sustained a head injury. Slip and fall accidents, car and motorcycle wrecks, injuries during playing sports, and violent assault are the most common reasons for serious head injuries.

Call Us for Help If You Have Been Injured!

If you have been affected by a head injury due to the negligence of others and are seeking a skilled traumatic brain injury lawyer, contact Heintz & Becker today. Our attorneys have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Traumatic Brain Injuries May Not Be Apparent Right Away After Slipping or Falling

Slip and fall injuries can be frightening due to the complete lack of control experienced in losing one’s footing—even if just momentarily—as well as the potential for severe injury.

While a fall can cause major injuries to the back, neck, and hips, as well as causing broken bones and cuts, the traumatic brain injury is a common consequence and may cause serious long-term problems.

If you or a loved one slipped and fell due to the negligence of others, you may not have realized you had a TBI—or even a concussion—at first. Such injuries commonly occur in stairwells, areas where water collects or the lighting is too dim, as well as large retail areas, parking lots and garages, and more.

Even with such a severe jolt to the head, you could have a TBI that goes undetected for weeks or months simply because you don’t recognize the symptoms. Chances are though, you will not be feeling quite right and may be experiencing confusion as well as other problems. If you suspect a head injury because of a fall caused by the negligence of others, see a doctor immediately, and then consult with an experienced personal injury law firm like Heintz & Becker.

The TBI is usually classified as mild, moderate, or severe. While you may have fallen and don’t realize you have a head injury, family members or friends will probably notice that your behavior is unusual. Signs may include:

  • Disorientation
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurred vision and dizziness
  • Abrupt mood swings
  • Loss of appetite

Even in the case of a mild TBI, you may have been unconscious for a short period of time. In a more serious case, you may have lost consciousness for a long period of time. Some may even go into a coma. Further symptoms of more serious TBIs include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Convulsions
  • Trouble waking or being roused from sleep
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Lack of consciousness, either off and on or prolonged
  • Combative behavior

Some of these symptoms could be the sign of a serious concussion too. Seeking the best medical care possible is priority. If you suspect your child may have sustained a brain injury due to the negligence of others in a slip and fall accident, make sure you contact an attorney experienced in handling child injury cases. Watch for some of the same symptoms listed above, but also any changes in eating habits, nursing, or increased periods of crying and irritability.

If you or a loved one have been injured due to the negligence of others, the attorneys at Heintz & Becker can help. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after slip and fall accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Recognizing the Signs of Traumatic Brain Injury

You may have heard before that if you are in a car accident, it is important to call the police to get an accident report and trade contact and insurance information no matter what. This is because sometimes car problems or health issues may not be immediately apparent—and traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a perfect example of that.

A condition brought more to light as so many veterans returned from Afghanistan and Iraq, the traumatic brain injury can be tricky at first, with the patient not even realizing they have one—like a concussion on a much larger scale. Often, family members will notice that something is wrong before the patient does. Continue reading

Brain Injury Series Part 9: New High School Football Practice Limits in Florida

Contrary to what you might think, 60% to 75% of sports- related brain injuries to high school football players occur in practice, not in games.  In the NFL, that number is 3%.  In light of these troubling statistics, the Florida High School Athletic Association (“FHSAA”) has promulgated new practice limitations. Taking effect on August 1, 2016 aimed at reducing the risk of concussions.  The new mandatory guidelines will limit the amount of time high school football players can spend in live contact during practice.

Reducing Sports Related Brain Injuries

Before the start of the regular season, live contact can’t go over 40 minutes per practice and only on two straight days. Once the season starts the time allowed goes down to 30 minutes per practice, 80 minutes total in any particular week, and no more than 3 days during that week. According to the FHSAA’s Kyle Niblett, similar limits in Wisconsin reduced the number of concussions there by half.  The new rule is one more step in the ongoing effort to reduce the risk of sports-related brain injury.  “The game of football will always come with some inherent risk, but we will never stop working to try and make one of the greatest team sports on earth safer,” FHSAA Football Administrator Frank Beasley said.

New Practice Rules

The new rules were developed by the FHSAA with the help of Practice Like Pros founder Terry O’Neil. O’ Neil has been working with numerous high school associations nationally to change high school football and improve player safety.  Practice Like Pros is Connecticut-based, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was born on Super Bowl Weekend, 2013. Soon after the suicides of former NFL players Dave Duerson and Junior Seau.  Its mission revolves around five core objectives:

  1. Convert youth leagues to flag football. No contact football earlier than 9th grade.
  2. No full-contact practice in spring/summer/off-season, 3 hours full-contact including scrimmage(s) in pre-season, 30 minutes per week in-season.
  3. Players must self-diagnose and report concussion symptoms because: The Second Impact Can Kill You.
  4. Full-time athletic trainer or comparable medical professional on every team. EMS on site at every game.
  5. Scientific study of catastrophic injury and brain tissue bank maintained at a national research center.

Brain Injury Attorneys

The attorneys at Heintz & Becker support these efforts to increase the safety of our high school football players.  We invite you to seek the advice of our experienced team of injury attorneys if you or someone you love for has suffered a sports-related brain injury or other serious physical injury.  Most importantly, we urge everyone involved to play by the rules, make safety their number one priority and report rule violations to the appropriate authorities.  If you suspect someone may have suffered a concussion, take action and seek immediate medical attention from a concussion specialist.

Source(s): First Coast News, “New safety procedures for Florida high school football players”, posted June 10, 2016; Space Coast Daily, “Florida High School Athletic Association Limiting Contact During Football Practice This Season”, posted June 9, 2016; WUFT, “Florida High Schools Must Report Number Of Concussions Next Year”, posted June 14, 2016; Practice Like Pros

Brain Injury Series Part 8: How Sleep May Improve Post-Concussion Recovery Results

As we saw in our last post the very first thing recommended by doctors after a concussion is “rest and recovery,” including getting as much sleep as possible.  Indeed, the best course of action for someone who has suffered a blow to the head and has concussion symptoms is to be evaluated by a brain injury specialist immediately and to implement a plan designed to give some the best chances for a successful recovery which starts off with maximizing sleep and restful activities.

Enhance Brain Injury Recovery

It’s well known that many mild traumatic brain injury and concussion patients suffer from disruptions of their normal sleep/wake patterns and can develop long-term sleep disorders.  Now, many experts are in agreement that how well someone’s brain recovers after a concussion may depend on the quality of sleep they get in the days and weeks following their injury.

Another thing they agree on is that additional study is needed to test and develop sleep-related treatments to improve patient outcomes.  One thing in particular that they hope to study is whether a chemically induced sleep (compared to natural sleep) can be an effective treatment option to enhance brain recovery.

One NFL player who believes in the importance of getting a good night’s sleep is Tom Brady.  In addition to religiously going to bed around 9.00 P.M. and waking up without the assistance of an alarm, he also does brain exercises geared at winding down, preparing for and enhancing the quality of his sleep.

According to Brady, “The body is a whole system and that includes the brain.”  Adding, “I’m building resiliency and staying sharp. I feel like that’s really where my edge is.”

Brain Injury Attorneys

The attorneys at Heintz & Becker know that concussions and other traumatic brain injuries are very serious and can have long-term adverse effects.  The seriousness of such an injury is the same whether you are a well-known NFL player, a kid playing youth sports, or an average person who has been hurt in a traffic accident.

If you, your child or a member of your family has suffered a concussion or other traumatic brain injury due to the negligence of someone else, please call us to discuss your claim.

Source(s): Advocate Health Care, “Can better sleep help with concussion symptoms?”, posted April 1, 2016; Science Codex, “New recommendations link better sleep to improved concussion outcomes”, posted March 31, 2016; Fansided, “Tom Brady’s Terrific Brain Key To His Success”, posted January, 2015

Brain Injury Series Part 7: The NFL Concussion Protocol is Subject of Post-Season Review

Throughout the 2015 NFL season, fans were frequently advised that a player was entering the “concussion protocol” and would need to be “cleared” before returning to play.  Based on the observations of the sideline staff and a spotter located in the press box above the field, players will be evaluated on the sideline and removed from play if a concussion was suspected.

If confirmed, players then enter the concussion protocol.  It’s been estimated that close to 200 concussions were suffered by NFL players this past season, and in some of those cases the NFL concussion protocol missed its mark.

One of those cases involved the failure of sideline staff to remove Rams quarterback Case Keenum from the game after his head was slammed to the ground in the Rams’ Week 11 game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Another case involved the “clearance” of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III by team doctors just days after suffering a concussion, which was reversed the following day after an independent neurologist concluded that it was too early to clear him to return to competition.

Concussion Protocol

In light of the issues and concerns that were raised during the season, the NFL will undertake a review of its concussion protocol this offseason.  So what is the concussion protocol?

Despite its fancy title, the concussion protocol is a mere four-page document that sets out five steps a player who has been diagnosed with a concussion must complete in order to be cleared to play.

In 2015, there was no minimum time requirement that needed to be spent in one step before a player is allowed to proceed to the next, but that is one aspect of the protocol which may change for the upcoming 2016 season.

Here is a summary of the current concussion protocol:

Step 1:    Rest and recovery. Players are instructed to rest and avoid electronics and social media.  Some stretching and balance activity may be done if approved by medical staff.  Clearance to proceed to the next step can be given when the player returns to his previous baseline (pre-concussion) cognitive function test levels.

Step 2:    Light aerobic exercise.  At this point the player may begin a graduated exercise program supervised by the team’s medical staff.  The activities may include using a stationary bicycle and/or treadmill, dynamic stretching and balance training, with duration and intensity being gradually increased. If concussion symptoms return, the activity is discontinued.

Neurocognitive testing is conducted as the Team Physician, in consultation with the team’s neuropsychology consultant, determines is advisable.  The player will be permitted to go to the next step when he can engage in cardiovascular exercise without recurrence of concussion symptoms.

Step 3:    Continued aerobic exercise, introduction of strength training.  The Step 2 activities continue to be increased and weight training is added to the program.  Supervision and testing is continued as in Step 2 and when the player can engage in cardiovascular exercise and supervised strength training without recurrence of concussion symptoms, he may proceed to the next step.

Step 4:    Football-specific work.  Now the player is allowed to perform non-contact football drills (throwing, catching and running) as a part of his exercise program.  Contact is still not allowed at this step.  The player can go on to the final step when he tolerates these added activities without a recurrence of concussion symptoms and his neurocognitive testing has returned to baseline.

Step 5:    Full football activity, full clearance. The player resumes practicing with the team and is allowed to participate in full football activity involving contact. If full participation practice and contact are tolerated without the return of concussion symptoms and the team physician concludes that the player’s concussion has resolved, he may clear the player to return to full participation.

However, before the player is allowed to play in an actual game, he must be examined by an independent neurological consultant and given an independent confirmatory clearance.

Bradenton Brain Injury Attorneys

Hopefully, each year’s post season review will result in continued improvements to the NFL concussion protocol.  Parents, does your child’s athletic program have its own concussion protocol specially designed for children?

If your child suffered a concussion while participating in an athletic program and was not given adequate medical attention, please contact one of our brain injury attorneys to arrange for a free, no obligation consultation.

Source(s): NFL.com, “NFL to review concussion protocol this offseason”, posted February 5, 2016; IBT Media, NFL Concussion Protocol: What Are The 5-Stages For Diagnosis And Management?, posted January 22, 2016; ESPN.com, What exactly is the concussion protocol?, posted December 20, 2013; The Washington Post, Explaining NFL’s concussion protocol, the five-step map for RGIII’s return, posted August 29, 2015; NFL Return To Play Protocol