Articles Posted in Traumatic Brain Injuries

Over the past two years, the National Football League has been dealing with a series of lawsuits that have been filed by former players and their families, claiming that the league failed to properly warn players against the risks involved with participating in the league. These claims stem from the recent diagnoses of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE as it is more commonly known.

CTE is a degenerative brain disease that can cause severe cognitive disorders, including depression, violent mood swings, and suicidal ideation. Due to the nature of the disease and the recency of its discovery, CTE is only diagnosable through a post-mortem autopsy. CTE is believed to be caused by repeated high-impact blows to the head and has been found in many former professional athletes, most notably NFL players. This has left many former NFL players wondering if the symptoms that they are experiencing are due to their participation in the sport.

According to a recent news report, the attorney of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez announced that researchers believe that Hernandez had a case of CTE prior to his suicide death in April of this year. At the time of his death, Hernandez was serving a life sentence for the murder of a semi-professional football player who was dating Hernandez’s fiancé’s sister.

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Participation in sports comes with a number of benefits, including camaraderie, athleticism, and socialization. However, sports can also be dangerous, especially when the proper precautions are not taken. Generally, the school association or professional league overseeing the sport is responsible for ensuring players are reasonably safe as they participate.

On occasion, however, a league or school administration fails to take adequate precautions to guard against player injuries. Alternatively, the players may not be properly warned of the dangers involved in participating in the sporting activity, or parental consent may not be obtained prior to a student’s participation. In these situations, anyone injured as a result of their participation in the sporting activity may be entitled to compensation though a Maryland personal injury lawsuit.

Research Study Finds CTE More Common Than Originally Believed

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease that is found in those who suffer repeated blows to the head. Symptoms of CTE include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, memory loss, cognitive impairment, and suicidal thoughts or actions. Over the past few years, researchers have linked CTE to participation in professional football. However, until recently, it was not understood how common CTE was among players.

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Several former professional wrestlers in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) league have sued the league over allegations that the league was negligent in protecting the safety of wrestlers during televised matches. According to one national news source, the allegations stem from the league’s negligence in its policies regarding permitted wrestling moves that—while they drew the audience’s attention—put the wrestlers at great risk for serious head injury.

Evidently, the wrestlers claimed in the lawsuit that they have suffered severe neurological damage due to the repeated head injuries they sustained while wrestling for the WWE. Specifically, they are claiming that they suffer from headaches, memory loss, depression, hearing impairment, tremors, convulsions, and migraines.

The kinds of injuries sustained in wrestling are not unlike those sustained in other high-impact sports, such as football and boxing. And, like wrestling, leagues in those sports are also under legal scrutiny for their policies regarding concussions and head injuries. In fact, the NFL is currently in a prolonged lawsuit with approximately 5,000 former players who claim that they sustained serious and irreversible damage while playing for the NFL.

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The family of a woman injured in a golf cart accident at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in February recently filed a personal injury lawsuit on her behalf.

The woman was reportedly a volunteer at the rodeo for some 30 years. She now remains in a coma, as a result of a severe brain injury she reportedly suffered after being thrown from a golf cart following a concert the night of February 25. According to the woman’s family, her medical bills are already past a half of a million dollars.

A statement from one of the attorneys in the case stated that the evidence will show that the driver of the golf cart was at fault for not being adequately trained to drive in a safe manner, and that the golf cart manufacturer is additionally liable for a defective design.

The case alleges that the golf cart that the woman was riding at the time of the accident lacked safety features such as seatbelts or handles. According to the legal team, some 15,000 people are thrown from dangerous golf carts nationwide every year, a majority of which are purportedly caused by sharp left turns.

The case reportedly focuses on negligence and product liability claims. The victim of the accident remains in a coma, and has a steep road of surgeries and recovery ahead.

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Recreational trampolines, particularly the kind found in backyards, pose a serious risk of injury to children, according to a paper published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) this month. The AAP has long advocated against the recreational use of trampolines, citing the high risk of fractures, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Other medical associations and the federal government have also noted the hazards of trampolines.

Trampoline use in the home environment remains a popular activity for children and teenagers, despite repeated warnings from the AAP and other groups. The Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, part of the AAP, reported on the risks of trampoline use in the October issue of the AAP’s official journal, Pediatrics. It estimates that around 100,000 trampoline-related injuries occur every year, and that in every year since 2005, they have been responsible for three to four thousand hospitalizations and deaths. This actually represents a decrease in the annual injury rate, which reportedly peaked at the same time as trampoline sales in 2004. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has also noted a direct correlation between the popularity of recreational trampolines and injury rates.

The original purpose of the modern trampoline was athletic training, not recreation, according to the patent obtained in 1945 by competitive gymnast George Nissen. His patent was for a “tumbling device” he intended to use to train gymnasts and acrobats. It later found a use in military aviation training. Recreational trampolines appeared once manufacturers were able to create frames that consumers could assemble at home. The AAP, the AAOS, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) all warn of the dangers inherent in trampoline use. Manufacturers have added safety features in recent years, including padding for trampoline frames and nets to prevent users from falling off the sides, but the AAP reports that these measures have not shown any significant impact on the injury rate.

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Graduated driver licensing laws (GDL) in Maryland contribute to one of the lowest rates of automobile accident fatalities involving teen drivers, according to a recent study. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), working with State Farm Insurance, reviewed data on nationwide traffic accidents involving teenagers between 2009 and 2010. The study defined “teens” as people ages 15 to 19. Maryland has one of the lowest rates of teen-driver-related fatalities in the nation, and the rate has substantially declined in the past five years. Robust GDL laws, in which teen drivers initially receive highly-restricted driver’s licenses and gradually earn additional privileges, show a strong correlation with low rates of fatal automobile accidents involving teen drivers.

CHOP’s report, entitled “Miles to Go,” provides a “yearly snapshot of teen driver safety for the nation.” The study found over 55,000 serious injuries among teens due to car accidents in the period from 2009 to 2010. Thirty percent of those injuries involved head trauma, such as skull fractures or traumatic brain injuries. Head trauma is the leading cause of death for teens in traffic accidents.

A total of 3,413 car crash fatalities involving teen drivers occurred in 2010. Fatalities include teen drivers, passengers of teen drivers, people in other vehicles, and people not in a vehicle (e.g. pedestrians). The report notes that three out of ten teen fatalities in 2010 involved people outside the teen’s vehicle. The total number of fatalities involving teen drivers nationwide declined by over thirty-five percent between 2005 and 2010.

Nationwide, the fatality rate for auto accidents involving teen drivers was 9.5 per 100,000 people. Maryland had the fifth-lowest rate in the country, with 5.8 per 100,000 people. This is a decline of more than forty-eight percent from 2005. The study’s authors credit strong GDL laws in the states with the lowest fatality rates.

Maryland’s GDL law, known as the “Rookie Driver” program, issues a driver’s license to teens in three stages: a learner’s permit, a provisional license, and a full driver’s license. A teen can apply for a learner’s permit at age 15 years and 9 months. A learner’s permit holder can only drive with a person age 21 or older, who has had a full license for at least three years (known as a “qualified supervising driver”), in the front passenger seat with them.

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According to an email from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Engineering Dean Nicholas Jane, 20-year-old student Nathan Krasnopoler is not expected to recover from his brain injury that he sustained when he was injured in a Baltimore bicycle accident on University Parkway last month. Krasnopoler has been in a coma since the February 26 traffic crash, when a driver abruptly turned into the marked bike lane where he was riding.

Per a statement by Krasnopoler’s family, his brain damage “appears to be permanent” and it is not likely that he will regain any “cognitive function.” They have filed a $10 million Baltimore brain injury lawsuit against Jeanette Marie Walke, the 83-year-old driver that hit him. Walke has not been charged over the Maryland bicycle accident. However, plaintiffs’ attorneys contend that she violated a number of traffic laws when the collision happened.

Per the complaint, Krasnopoler wasn’t able to prevent his bike from hitting the passenger side of Walke’s vehicle as it turned. Her car then ran over him, pinning him. In addition to his Maryland brain injury, which occurred not from the impact of the crash but because his brain was deprived of oxygen when his lungs collapsed, Krasnopoler sustained serious burns because Walke allegedly left the engine on when her car was on him. Krasnopoler also suffered eye damage, facial fractures, and broke his ribs and collarbone. He went into cardiac arrest while the ambulance was dring him to the hospital.

According to the University of Utah Department of Neurosurgery, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of severe head and spinal trauma cases involving all-terrain vehicle. Its researchers’ findings, published in Neurosurgery, emphasis the need for better ATV stability, better rider training, and helmet use.

The research, which is to be published in the journal Neurosurgery, states that:

• ATV injuries resulted in 495 deaths and 1,117,000 emergency room visits in 2001—159% and 211% more, respectively than 1993.

A team of researchers are recommending that concussions should be called mild traumatic brain injuries so that this type of condition is taken more seriously. The team is concerned that many people don’t think of a concussion as an injury to the brain.

The researchers looked at the medical records of 300 children with traumatic brain injuries who were treated at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Canada. 102 of them were diagnosed with having a concussion. 385 of the kids diagnosed with a concussion actually had a mild TBI, while 24% in fact had a serious or moderate TBI.

According to Professor Carol DeMatteo of the CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research at McMaster University, in each case involving a child diagnosed with a concussion, the patient and their parents did not think the injury was serious. DeMatteo says this can be a problem.

According to the study’s findings, kids that were diagnosed with having concussion diagnosis spent less time in the hospital than children who were diagnosed with a mild brain injury. They also went back to school and resumed playing sports sooner than kids diagnosed with more serious brain injuries.

DeMatteo notes that if a child isn’t given enough time to recover, more concussions may occur and the risk of permanent brain damage increases.

Brain Injuries to Children

Brain injury is one of the most common causes of death and disability to young children. If your son or daughter suffers an injury to the head, it is important that you get medical help right away. What may appear to be a mild injury to the head may actually be a brain injury.

If your child sustained a TBI in a car crash, fall accident on another person’s property, or another kind of injury accident, you may have grounds for filing a Maryland traumatic brain injury lawsuit involving injuries to minors.

Concussion needs a new name, researchers say, Globe Life, January 17, 2010
Children and Traumatic Brain Injury, TBI Resource Guide, Centre for Neuro Skills
Related Web Resources:
Concussion, Empowered Doctor
McMaster Children’s Hospital

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Miriam Frankl, 20, died on October 17 from the serious head wounds and other injuries she sustained during a Baltimore hit and run accident that occurred the day before. Frankl, a Johns Hopkins University student, was struck by a white Ford F-250 moving at a high speed on St. Paul Street during a hit and run Maryland truck crash. Witnesses say that the driver of the truck, a man, did not stop. Instead, he allegedly made an illegal left turn onto East University Parkway.

Frankl was placed on life support at Maryland Shock Trauma Center where she died at 2:30am the next day. Thomas Meighan Jr., the 39-year-old truck owner, was initially arrested on at least 18 driving offenses.

Witnesses say that Meighan’s truck drove erratically for hours that day, tailgating, attempting to cut off other motorists, making abrupt lane changes, running several red lights, driving at high speeds on small roads and driving the wrong way.

Most of the lesser charges have been dropped. The remaining charges against Meighan include driving on a suspended license, failure to remain at the scene of an accident involving death, failure to stop vehicle at bodily injury accident, failure to stop vehicle at death accident scene, failure to render reasonable assistance to injured person, failure to furnish required ID and license, failure to stop after accident involving vehicle damage, and failure to remain at scene of vehicle damage accident.

Police are trying to figure out whether they can charge Meighan with vehicular manslaughter in the hit-and-run death of Frankl. Meighan claims he was not driving his car on the day of the deadly Baltimore car crash that claimed the 20-year-old’s life.

Prior to the October 16 Maryland pedestrian accident, Meighan already had 21 motor vehicle convictions. 8 of those convictions were for drunk driving. Over six of the offenses took place in Carroll County.

Driver’s truck terrorized Baltimore before killing student from Wilmette, Chicago Tribune, October 27, 2009
Charges pared in hit-and-run, The Baltimore Sun, October 28, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Hit and Run Maryland, Deadly Roads
Maryland Department of Transportation

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