Brain and Spine Injury Law Blog

Brain and Spine Injury Law Blog

Concussion Research Center Established at McGill University

Posted in Publications, Resources, The Human Brain, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

A new research center has been established at McGill University to study the effects of mild traumatic brain injury.  The new research center will purchase a state of the Ultra High Performance MRI system whose strength is reportedly 64 times greater than what is currently available.

The full news story can be accessed at:


Upcoming Brain Injury Conferences

Posted in Books, Articles, and Literature, Brain Injury News and Event Update, Publications, Resources, The Human Brain, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

I am attending the Traumatic Brain Injury Annual Conference with the American Association of Justice next month in Montreal.  The American Association for Justice is a group of dedicated lawyers fighting for consumers and injured people.  The Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group is a specialty subset of the American Association for Justice.  These lawyers represent and advocate for traumatic brain injury victims and their families.  I am proud to not only be a member of both, but the Vice Chair of the Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group and the Secretary of the Inadequate Security Litigation Group. Additional Educational conferences scheduled for this year include:

  • Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania Annual Conference

6/28/2015 – 6/30/2015 Lancaster, PA 866-635-7097  

  • National Neurotrauma Symposium

6/28/2015 – 7/1/2015 Santa Fe, NM 407-876-0750  

  • First International Conference on Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury

9/16/2015 – 9/18/2015 Liverpool, UK 703-960-6500  

  • Brain Injury Canada Annual Conference

9/30/2015 – 10/2/2015 Montreal, Quebec 306-530-8703  

  • Society for Neuroscience Annual Conference

10/17/2015 – 10/21/2015 Chicago, IL 202-962-4000  

  • American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine Annual Conference

10/25/2015 – 10/30/2015 Dallas, TX 703-435-5335

Brain Injury Association Legislative Update July 2015

Posted in Age & Alzheimer's Issues, Books, Articles, and Literature, Brain Injury News and Event Update, Personal Injury, Psychiatric & Psychological Issues, Soldiers, Veterans and Military Issues, The Human Brain, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Uncategorized
  • Hearing Held on Social Security Disability System

This week, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing to debate an overhaul of the bankrupt Social Security Disability System. Lawmakers are looking to amend the system to encourage work. Experts testified the system is overly complicated, promotes fear among beneficiaries, and creates disincentives to return to work. Committee members are examining work incentives as part of finding a solution to the pending exhaustion of the Social Security disability insurance trust fund, expected late next year. Without congressional action, the depletion of the fund would result in a 19 percent cut in benefits for the current 9 million beneficiaries. BIAA will continue to monitor this issue while Congress continues to find solutions during the next year.

  •  House of Representatives Approves 21st Century Cures Act

Today, the House of Representatives approved the 21st Century Cures Act, H.R. 6. The vote was 344-77. H.R. 6 would authorize funds for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the development of drugs and other disease treatments.

  •  Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 25th Anniversary Celebration

On Friday, July 24, 2015, from 9:00am to 12:00pm at 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, in Washington, DC, the U.S. Department of Education, led by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is hosting a large-scale ADA celebration that is to attract persons with disabilities of all ages, along with their families, friends, advocates, and supporters.  We are coming together in common purpose to discuss the specific policy and programmatic advancements we have seen over the past 25 years, network with one another as we continue to build alliances to make further progress, look forward to the new frontiers that lie ahead, obtain practical resources and information that will further arm advocates in fostering the kind of ongoing change we all seek, and show practical examples of how old beliefs have been transformed into new paradigms that embrace innovative thinking that leads to greater integration and participation in various aspects of societal life than ever before.  Coming together in one place will be government officials, disability policy advocates, parents of children with disabilities, disability rights attorneys and other advocates, and other leaders and members of the broad community of individuals who believe in the true potential of persons with disabilities. This celebration is open to the public so please attend. RSVP information is included at the end of this page.

Here are key event highlights:

  • 9:00am to 9:45am:  Presentations by Assistant Secretary for Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Michael Yudin, Association for University Centers on Disabilities Executive Director Andrew “Andy” J. Imparato, and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon.
  • 9:45am to 10:20am:  Youth panel moderated by Rehabilitation Services Administration Commissioner Janet LaBreck and including youth with different types of disabilities who have grown up in the era of the ADA’s implementation.
  • 10:25am to 10:55 am:  Outdoor ceremony, keynoted by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and featuring Active Policy Solutions Chief Executive Officer Terri Lakowski.
  • 10:00am to 10:25am; 10:55am to 12:00pm:  Information tables hosted by Federal Government agencies and other organizations wanting to network with disability community members and their families to provide internship and employment opportunities, render services and support, and share information of use to civil rights advocates and their organizations.  Also featured are activity stations of interest to persons with disabilities interested and athletics and sports.

There will be something here for everyone, so come and be a part of history!  Spread the word now to all those you know about our #ADA25 celebration.  RSVP today, and make sure to open the link with Google Chrome.

RSVP Here.

Alternatively, to receive the RSVP via email, please write to Isabella Espiritu at or call her at (202) 453-6369 [Voice/Relay/VRS].

BIAA Brain Injury Conferences in August 2015

Posted in Brain Injury News and Event Update, Personal Injury, Psychiatric & Psychological Issues, The Human Brain, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Fatigue After Brain Injury

BIAA Caregiver Webinar

Thursday, August 6, 2015

3:00 p.m. eastern/12:00 (noon) pacific

Michelle Ranae Wild, Co-Director, Coastline Community College ABI Program


Fatigue can be challenging to manage after a brain injury and can impact many day-to-day tasks. What are the common ways it affects people with brain injury? What are some of the strategies out there to help better manage fatigue? What are the tools and resources out there to help? This Caregiver webinar will discuss strategies and resources people with brain injury can use to better manage fatigue day to day following a brain injury.

Please note: This webinar will not cover medication issues.


Functional Outcomes after TBI: an Overview of Methods and Clinical Applications

Mitchell Rosenthal Memorial Lecture Live Webinar 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

2:00 p.m. eastern/11:00 a.m. pacific

Kristen Dams-O’Connor, Ph.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

One of the most commonly asked questions among TBI survivors and their family members is: “When will I get better?” It is not possible for clinicians or researchers to answer this question with any certainty. Most TBI outcome research to date has focused on acute outcomes and cross-sectional study designs that provide snapshots of outcomes at certain points in time. In recent years, there has been an increase in the use of sophisticated longitudinal data modeling approaches in TBI outcome research. This has allowed more detailed analysis of the factors that contribute to individual-level variability in functional outcomes over time. Kristen Dams-O’Connor, Ph.D., of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, will provide a brief overview of these approaches as they have been applied to TBI research. Dr. Dams-O’Connor will also discuss clinical and research implications of this study, such as identifying opportunities for clinical intervention to improve health and longevity after TBI.

Please Note:

Registration ends at 5:00 p.m. eastern two business days prior to thedate of the live webinar. If you miss the registration deadline for live webinars, you may purchase the recordings on a CD. They can be found in our bookstore, here.

Cancellation Policies Cancellations received in writing by 5 p.m. ET two business days prior to the webinar will be refunded, less a $5 administrative fee; after that time no refunds will be issued. You may substitute a registrant or may apply the live webinar fee to the purchase of the CD & Handout package for the webinar, provided that you notify BIAA ( in writing no later than 5 p.m. ET the day before the webinar. No Shows: There are no refunds and the webinar price cannot be applied to the CD & Handout package for those missing the webinar.


Are Men and Women Equal in Recovery from Mild Traumatic Brain Injury?

Posted in Personal Injury, Psychiatric & Psychological Issues, The Human Brain, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

When the issue of Equality comes up, there are deeply held beliefs in both women and men.  However science is now revealing an inequality may exist between men and women as to how they recover from mild traumatic brain injury.

Women may have a more difficult time than men in recovering from concussion, according to a new study. Concussion, also known as mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), is a common medical problem affecting cognitive function and quality of life in some individuals.

Concussion, also known as mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), is a common medical problem affecting cognitive function and quality of life in some individuals.

In most cases, patients who experience MTBI will recover fully, typically within three months. Ten to 15 percent of MTBI patients will continue to experience persistent disabling problems beyond three months, which can include post-traumatic headache, sleep disturbance, loss of balance, memory and other cognitive impairments, fatigue, and mood or affective disorders.

The lasting effects of concussion have received widespread attention in recent years and caused growing concern, particularly among amateur and professional athletes and sports organizations. Several reports have indicated that female athletes suffer concussions at a higher rate than male athletes playing similar sports.

Dr. Chen and colleagues set out to objectively evaluate gender differences in MTBI by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to analyze brain activation patterns during working memory tasks.

Neuropsychological results showed that among the women, the total digit span score was lower in the MTBI group, compared to the control group.

Because fMRI has the potential to detect working memory impairment, predict outcome and monitor treatment effect, incorporation of fMRI into treatment protocol for MTBI may be advisable in the future.

Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA)

Posted in Brain Injury News and Event Update, Personal Injury, Psychiatric & Psychological Issues, The Human Brain

Understanding Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA)

David Strauss Memorial Clinical Webinar

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

3:00 p.m. eastern/12:00 p.m. (noon) pacific

Lori Penatzer, Pharm D, Senior Medical Science Liaison with Avanir Pharmaceuticals


People with PBA experience episodes of uncontrollable laughing or crying that do not correspond to the way they way they are feeling. Lori Penatzer, Pharm D, Senior Medical Science Liaison with Avanir Pharmaceuticals, will help participants learn to develop awareness of PBA and be able to screen for and identify symptoms, and learn how to distinguish PBA from clinical depression. Registration ends Friday, July 10 at 5:00 p.m. eastern. 


Did You Know That The Brain Handles Reading and Writing Separately?

Posted in Las Vegas Injury Attorney, Las Vegas Motorcycle Attorney, Las Vegas Negligent or Inadequate Security Attorney, Las Vegas Truck Accident Attorney, Las Vegas Wrongful Death Attorney, Personal Injury, Psychiatric & Psychological Issues, The Human Brain, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Man Catches Fish

Did You Know That The Brain Handles Reading and Writing Separately?

It’s true.  Although the human ability to write evolved from our ability to speak, writing and talking are now such independent systems in the brain that someone who can’t write a grammatically correct sentence may be able say it aloud flawlessly.

In a paper published in the journal Psychological Science, a research team found it’s possible to damage the speaking part of the brain but leave the writing part unaffected — and vice versa — even when dealing with morphemes, the tiniest meaningful components of the language system including suffixes like “er,” “ing” and “ed.”

So a person can say, “The man is catching a fish.” The same person then takes pen to paper and writes, “The men is catches a fish.”

Amazingly the Brain treats writing and speaking in different areas.  If one part is injured, the other may not be.  When that happens you have these differences in communication.


Traumatic Brain Injury Leads to Road Rage

Posted in Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney, Las Vegas Injury Attorney, Las Vegas Truck Accident Attorney, Personal Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Did you know that Traumatic Brain Injury has been shown to Lead to Road Rage?

According to a new study published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, Ontario adult drivers who say they have experienced at least one traumatic brain injury in their lifetime also report significantly higher incidents of serious road-related driving aggression, said a new study. Serious driver aggression includes: making threats to hurt a fellow driver, passenger or vehicle. These individuals also reported significantly higher odds of being involved in a motor vehicle collision that resulted in hurting themselves, their passenger or their vehicle.

This may be due to increased irritability and lack of patience for those suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury.  All too often the inability to process normally information, a typical sign, symptom or consequence of traumatic brain injury, leads to aggression and hostility.  These issues can best be dealt with by a medical provider familiar with the problems we see in traumatically brain injured people.

Depression and Dementia

Posted in Age & Alzheimer's Issues, Las Vegas Injury Attorney, Personal Injury, Psychiatric & Psychological Issues, The Human Brain, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)


In practice, I find that many of my clients with traumatic brain injury experience new or worse onset of depression.  The research suggests that this may be a precursor to dementia later in life.

A new study by neuropsychiatric researchers at Rush University Medical Center gives insight into the relationship between depression and dementia. The study is published in the July 30, 2014, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Studies have shown that people with symptoms of depression are more likely to develop dementia, but we haven’t known how the relationship works,” said study author Robert S. Wilson, PhD, neuropsychiatrist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and lead study investigator. “Is the depression a consequence of the dementia? Do both problems develop from the same underlying problems in the brain? Or does the relationship of depression with dementia have nothing to do with dementia-related pathology?”

The current study indicates that the association of depression with dementia is independent of dementia-related brain changes. “These findings are exciting because they suggest depression truly is a risk factor for dementia, and if we can target and prevent or treat depression and causes of stress we may have the potential to help people maintain their thinking and memory abilities into old age,” Wilson said.


Brain Injury Association of America Legislative Update for May 2015

Posted in Legislation, The Human Brain, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

The Brain Injury Association of America asked me to share this May 2015 Legislative Update.  Here it is:

National Institutes of Health Caucus formed in the United States Senate

On Tuesday, May 19, 2015, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) caucus. The Senators will co-chair the caucus and it will focus on bolstering support for federal research and to find a way to fund it. The NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins and other researchers participated in the dedication ceremony this week. Since 2003, NIH has lost 25 percent of its purchasing power which the senators attribute to sequestration and flat budgets.

The 21st Century Cures bill in the House which was marked out of the Energy and Commerce Committee this week includes $10 billion for NIH. The nonpartisan legislation will help to modernize and personalize health care, encourage greater innovation, support research, and streamline the system to deliver better, faster cures to more patients. To learn more about TBI work at NIH click here. To learn more about the 21st Century Cures Act click here.

Enhancing the Stature and Visibility of Medical Rehabilitation Research at the National

Institutes of Health Act

BIAA along with the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Coalition (DRRC) is working to increase support for S. 800, a bill to enhance the stature and visibility of medical rehabilitation research at NIH. This legislation would specifically:

  • Clarifies the Respective Roles of the NCMRR Director, the Director of the Institute and the Director of NIH Regarding the Research Plan. The bills place the key subject matter expert (i.e., the NCMRR Director) at the helm of the Research Plan for conducting medical rehabilitation research at NIH while making it clear that the Director of the Center is exercising this authority on behalf of the Director of NIH and the Director of the Institute and in consultation with the Medical Rehabilitation Coordinating Committee (coordinating committee) and the National Advisory Board on Medical Rehabilitation (advisory board) established by statute.
  • Updates the Trans-NIH Rehabilitation Research Plan.  The bills specify that the Research Plan must include objectives, benchmarks, and guiding principles regarding the conduct, support, and coordination of medical rehabilitation research at NIH, consistent with the purpose of the Center. The Research Plan should be updated periodically or not less than every five years.
  • Adds an Annual Rehabilitation Research Progress Report.  The bills specify that the Director of NCMRR, in consultation with the Director of the Institute, must prepare an annual report for the coordinating committee and the advisory board describing and evaluating the progress made during the preceding fiscal year in achieving objectives, benchmarks, and guiding principles included in the Research Plan. In preparing the report, the Director of the Center and the Director of the Institute must consult with the Director of NIH and the report must reflect an assessment of the Research Plan by the Director of NIH.
  • Adds a Scientific Conference or Workshop on Medical Rehabilitation Research.  The bills specify that the coordinating committee periodically, or not less than every 5 years, host a “scientific conference or workshop on medical rehabilitation research” in connection with updating of the Trans-NIH Medical Rehabilitation Research Plan.  This policy ensures periodic review of the state of medical rehabilitation science and outreach to the research community in connection with revisions of the Research Plan.
  • Improving Stature of Medical Rehabilitation Science.  The bills specify that the coordinating committee includes the Director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the Director of NIH and the coordinating committee is chaired by the Director of the Center, acting in the capacity of a designee of the Director of NIH.  This policy is intended to maximize the likelihood that the trans-NIH nature of medical rehabilitation research is realized.
  • Clarifies Funding Among NIH Agencies. The bills specify that the Director of the Center, in consultation with the Director of the Institute, the coordinating committee, and the advisory board, must develop guidelines governing the funding of medical rehabilitation research by the Center and other agencies of the NIH. These guidelines should ensure that funding initiatives reflect the purposes of the Center and are consistent with the Research Plan. This policy is intended to establish funding grant procedures that focus on a common understanding of medical rehabilitation research needs.
  • Includes a Definition of Medical Rehabilitation Research.  Because current law does not include a definition of the term “medical rehabilitation research,” the bills specify a definition of this term as: “The science of mechanisms and interventions that prevent, improve, restore, or replace lost, underdeveloped, or deteriorating function (defined at the level of impairment, activity, and participation according to the World Health Organization in the International Classification of Function, Disability, and Health (2001).”  This definition is consistent with the Blue Ribbon Panel recommendations and would facilitate a consistent understanding of medical rehabilitation science at NIH.

BIAA, along with 21 other DRRC organizations sent a letter of support to Congress urging the passage of S. 800.

White House Names Disability Public Engagement Representative

The White House announced this week Maria Town is the new Disability Public Engagement Representative and she will be in this position until the end of President Obama’s Administration. Ms. Town will serve as Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement in the White House.

Maria has been involved in the Disability Rights movement for many years and has worked in the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) in the Department of Labor. You can follow Ms. Town on Twitter: @maria_m_town


Preserving Rehabilitation Innovation Centers Act of 2015 Introduced

This week, Congressman Pete Olson of Texas introduced the Preserving Rehabilitation Innovation Centers Act of 2015. This legislation would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to preserve access to rehabilitation innovation centers under the Medicare program. To read the text of this legislation click here.