Articles Posted in Brain Injuries

Do-I-Have-a-Traumatic-Brain-Injury-300x200Auto and truck wrecks make vehicle occupants vulnerable to head injuries.  Severity of a brain injury is classified according to the Glasgow Coma Scale.  The most mild form of traumatic brain injury is a concussion.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, concussions account for more than 75% of all brain injuries.

When most people think of the word “concussion,” they think of a minor head injury that can cause headaches that last a few days or weeks, with no permanent effects.  People think that a single concussion is not harmful, and only multiple concussions cause long-term damage, like those repeated head blows in sports like boxing and football.

New research indicates that this is not the case.  Concussions are serious injuries that can cause long-term permanent damage, even with only one occurrence.  When a car driver’s head hits the dashboard, headrest, airbag or another object, it causes the brain tissue to slosh around inside the skull.  Even a violent whiplash without any direct impact with an object can cause concussion damage.  Like any other soft tissue of the body exposed to trauma, the brain can respond by bruising (bleeding), tearing and swelling.

iStock_000001221748XSmall-300x199Over the past decade, researchers have made a great deal of progress in learning about the long term effects of brain injuries. Concussions are among the most common brain injuries. It is now understood that when someone sustains even a few concussions over his or her lifetime, it can be more difficult for the brain to return to normal function. We have seen a lot of publicity regarding the dangers to professional football players, for example, who have sustained numerous concussions and the prolonged and often debilitating impact on their lives. We have seen school sports teams becoming more aware about protecting kids from getting back on the field after a head injury.

This past summer, USA Today reported on Virginia Tech’s research in identifying high-impact training drills that can cause injury to young football players. The research indicated that one particular drill called “King of the Circle” is most dangerous for kids. The drill studied about 35 kids between 9-11 years of age. It illustrated the concussion risks to kids in football practice and was published in The Journal of Neurosurgery.

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Texting and drivingSocial media can be used for good. And it can be used for not as good. The culture that drives the creation of apps that allow us to share our lives with friends is at the center of an Atlanta injury lawsuit filed just recently. The case is already making headlines in the tech community. As TechCrunch reports, last September, a young Atlanta driver did something incredibly dangerous and in their words “narcissistic.” She decided that it would be interesting to post a photo on the app Snapchat that showed her driving at 100 miles per hour. Only she was traveling at 107. Snapchat allows a user to put a filter on an image that shows how fast a car or other motor vehicle is going. The feature is aptly noted by TechCrunch to be included as an option “for some reason.” This subtle reference to purposelessness is one we happen to share. Because, as one might expect, her actions resulted in a terrible crash in which her victim sustained traumatic brain injury. He is now in a wheelchair … all due to the fact that this young woman made one of the worst decisions of her life.

According to reports, the young woman had several co-workers in her vehicle, including a pregnant friend. She crashed into her victim’s vehicle while distracted trying to document her speed. Her drive home is now the subject of a lawsuit filed in Spalding County, Georgia in which she and Snapchat have been named as defendants. Snapchat claims that it warns users not to use the app while they are driving.Snapchat claims that it warns users not to use the app while they are driving. Perhaps implying that a wise user would allow a passenger to use the app, but not the driver who would become distracted. The catastrophically injured plaintiff is seeking to recover for his injuries and loss of work income. Ironically, he was an Uber driver at the time of the accident which has now changed his life.

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March is a great month for thinking about health as we move from a very intense winter to the upcoming spring. March is also brain health awareness month. The Centers for Disease Control right here in Atlanta, have set aside the month for this important topic. They want the public to focus on many aspects of brain health. From high school coaches to parents to teen athletes, the CDC wants all of us to be better educated about brain injuries. One of the major areas of focus for this campaign are concussions. This subject has been in the news quite often in the past several years as experts have learned more and more about the effect of concussions, particularly cumulatively. There has also been more and more research in this field and many NFL players have come forward to share their experiences with cumulative concussions and how that impacts life after sports.

Most parents know that concussion can happen even when a child or teen gets a relatively minor bump to the head. The symptoms of concussion can take quite a while to show up, which makes it all the more important to pay attention to our kids when they complain of any symptoms. These can include: dizziness, headache and nausea just to name a few. There are many more symptoms about which parents should become aware which include differences between the size of the eye pupils, confusion or loss of consciousness. A more complete list of symptoms is found at the CDC Heads Up website, which is a great resource.

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concussionGeorgia is home to some of the finest research institutions in the country.  We recently learned that the University of Georgia is taking on an important and groundbreaking study concerning how concussions might impact driving capability. Considered to be the first study of its kind, researchers will be evaluating the cognitive and driving ability functions of athletes who have suffered a concussion. A concussion can also occur when someone slips and falls or is involved in a motor vehicle crash including a truck crash concussion, motorcycle concussion or car wreck concussion. The results of this study will be very helpful in determining when someone can safely return to driving after suffering this type of injury.

Concussions can cause a temporary loss of normal brain function including an alternation in the level of consciousness that a person would normally have. These injuries can cause cognitive impairment, reaction time, memory loss, balance problems and many other impairments that can take time to regain. The cumulative effect of concussions can be a serious issue, as we have seen with NFL players and long-term brain function.

Specifically, the question as to when someone who has suffered a concussion is really ready to get behind the wheel is an important and yet unanswered question. The concern is that someone who has suffered a concussion may have impairment with driving due to the “neuropsychological effects” a concussion can cause. Although the study is not a large one, the data recovered from the study could be extremely important. The data collection has already begun with a lab set-up that replicates driving conditions that include everything from passing another vehicle, to stopping a vehicle properly, to avoiding a sudden situation such as an unexpected intrusion into the street. The test subjects will be checked for cognition and driving skill after a concussion that will help determine when someone is ready to return to driving.

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Thumbnail image for candles .jpgA tragedy that seems like something out of a very sad movie, occurred this past weekend in Rome, Georgia. Teens playing a game of “chicken” with a train, ended in the death of one of them. As an Atlanta traumatic brain injury lawyer, I have studied the way the teen brain responds to risk. It is one of the worst tragedies possible to lose a child and to lose a child to a game that is bound to end in disaster must be extremely painful for the teen’s family.

The teens in the Rome train tragedy were a group of five to six kids … they dared one another to be the last to get up as a train approached and they were literally lying on the tracks. The teen that died at the scene waited too long to get up.

Brain research has shown that the teen age brain is not yet fully developed and that teens are willing to take greater risks than we do once we get older. This has to do with the way the adolescent brain is “wired.” The teen brain is essentially wired to be “extra sensitive to reward signals when pay-off for a risk is higher than expected.”

This is related to brain chemistry. So when teens are playing a game of chicken on a train track, when nothing happens that is harmful, their brains might respond more intensely to the fact that something turned out better than expected. This could well explain why teens take risks that are so dangerous.

In a recent study, cognitive neuroscientists focused on what is termed “prediction error.” This measures the difference between what is expected to happen and what actually happens. Scientists measured brain reaction in different age groups from about 8 years old to 30 years old and using a mathematical model were able to MRI the brains of participants to see how risk and reward were functioning.

The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, showed that a certain part of the brain reacted differently in test subjects between the ages of 14 through 19. The hope is that these new insights might help parents in working with their kids to avoid dangerous risk-taking activities like drugs and alcohol. Channeling this age-group into more productive activities, such as sports, is a good way to guide teens to safer behaviors. It is also important that we inform and educate our teens about the way they might feel in a given situation and the fact that they might not assess the risks as well as they will later in life.

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1175023_magnolia.jpgRecently, we learned that the father of a young girl who was injured at a 2010 Atlanta Braves game, has filed a lawsuit for her injuries after a foul ball struck her face. Her skull was fractured and she sustained brain damage. This of course was a very sad occurrence for this child and her family.

In the lawsuit which names the Braves and others, the plaintiff claims that the defendants were negligent in that they did not protect his daughter against the injuries she sustained. As an Atlanta personal injury lawyer, I have reviewed cases involving similar injuries and how Georgia law applies.

Around the country, spectators file lawsuits after being injured at sporting events. Baseball is particularly prone to these lawsuits, because fans often go to these games hoping to catch a ball and sitting where they can do so. But as we all know, baseballs fly fast into the stands and sometimes they strike spectators.

Thumbnail image for candles .jpgLoss of control of his vehicle was said by Atlanta police to be the cause of one driver’s death over the weekend. He was a resident of Duluth. The car crash occurred in Buckhead near the Lenox Square mall. In my work as an Atlanta catastrophic injury lawyer, I have handled many cases in which victims have sustained severe head trauma.

According to reports of the Buckhead crash, weather may have been a factor. Although it is not known whether drugs or alcohol were involved in this accident, we do know that the deceased driver lost control of his vehicle and crossed into the path of oncoming traffic. His vehicle struck another and the driver of that car was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital with what were reportedly serious injuries.

Sadly, the deceased driver sustained severe head trauma. He passed away at the scene.

The Atlanta Injury Attorneys Blog has posted numerous examples of the terrible consequences of combining excessive alcohol use with driving. Over this past weekend in Cobb County, this dangerous activity is likely to have caused another tragic loss of life.
According to Cobb County authorities, alcohol apparently played a role in the death of a 28-year old man who lost his life while driving his motorcycle in Powder Springs. He failed to properly negotiate a curve and hit a mailbox at a residence on Moon Road, finally coming to a stop in a neighboring yard.

Although in this motorcycle accident the driver did not harm anyone but himself which is itself a terrible and heartbreaking tragedy, we know that the risk of getting on the road while under the influence not only raises the potential for a DUI, it also raises the potential for serious injury or death to other drivers.

So why do people still get on the road when they should not? This may be because of the impaired judgment that goes along with alcohol abuse and the fact that over time, our brains can deteriorate with substance and alcohol abuse and impair our judgment to even a greater extent than an occasional lapse in good thinking. Over the next several weeks, the Atlanta Injury Attorneys Blog will be posting on brain health and how you can protect your brain, the most important organ in the human body. Having good brain health is important for recovery from injuries that can happen in one’s life, such as a simple concussion from a motor vehicle accident.

In our Georgia community, the tragedy of car and motorcycle accidents involving drugs or alcohol is all too common. We also know that Georgia’s laws, and often its juries, treat the perpetrators of death or injury in these cases with much more harsh consequences when substance abuse is involved in an accident.

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Three years after causing a
Gwinnett County car accident in which one Georgia woman was left brain dead, a Duluth man has finally been formally indicted for the crime. According to the indictment, in the 2007 crash, Scott Michael Rynning was driving under the influence of alcohol and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax. Both are sedatives, and in combination they can create extremely unsafe conditions for driving.

Brain Injury 1.jpgThe indictment carried six charges: felony serious injury by vehicle, failure to maintain lane, two counts of driving under influence of alcohol, one count of driving under influence of a controlled substance, and one count of driving under influence of alcohol and drugs together.

Perhaps the worst part is that, according to Gwinnett County jail records, Rynning was also arrested for a similar crime in 2008–after this accident occurred. This suggests he is a repeat offender for driving under the influence in Georgia. They say that old habits die hard, but it’s a particular shame when those habits destroy the lives and livelihood of others. Being a repeat offender certainly won’t help Rynning’s case in this indictment, being one more piece of evidence pointing to his reckless driving behavior. Let’s hope he at least learns his lesson this time and stops driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol for good.

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