Brain and Spine Injury Law Blog

Brain and Spine Injury Law Blog

Brain Injury Association Of America Legislative Update December 2014

Posted in Brain Injury News and Event Update, Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney, Las Vegas Injury Attorney, Las Vegas Truck Accident Attorney, Las Vegas Wrongful Death Attorney, Personal Injury, Soldiers, Veterans and Military Issues, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) asked me to share this Legislative Update for December 2014.

Congress returned from the Thanksgiving holiday this week to address a number of pending issues, including appropriations to keep the federal government running past Dec. 11, when the current Continuing Resolution (CR) funding government ends. Also on their plate is the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which has passed every year for the past 53 years.

 Traumatic Brain Injury

On November 26, President Obama signed S. 2539, the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Reauthorization Act of 2014, reauthorizing funding for TBI Act programs administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through fiscal year (FY) 2019. The measure is now known as Public Law 113-196. BIAA applauds the President, bill sponsors and all of those who have supported this measure to improve data, prevention, research, and service delivery for individuals with brain injury and their families. This was a heavy lift for brain injury stakeholders and all should feel especially pleased that we were successful.

Veterans and Suicide and TBI

At the end of November, the House Veterans Affairs Committee passed bipartisan legislation to help prevent veteran suicide and to amend the requirements for reviewing discharges of military service members diagnosed with TBI or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Introduced by Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), Representatives Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.), H.R. 5059, requires a board reviewing the discharge or dismissal of a former member of the Armed Forces whose application for relief is based at least in part on PTSD or TBI-related to military operations or sexual trauma, to: (1) review the medical evidence from the VA or a civilian health provider that is presented by the former member; and (2) review the case, with a presumption of administrative irregularity, and place the burden on the VA or the Department of Defense (DoD) to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence that no error or injustice occurred. Referred to as the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act, the bill requires a third-party review of Pentagon and VA mental health and suicide prevention programs at least annually. H.R. 5059 has 107 cosponsors and is named for Clay Hunt, a Marine veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who committed suicide in 2011 at age 28.

 Meanwhile, the Senate is expected to consider the BIAA-supported Jacob Sexton Suicide Prevention Act of 2014 as a part of this year’s national defense bill next week.

ABLE Act Passes House

Posted in Brain Injury News and Event Update, Personal Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

The Brain Injury Association of America asks me to pass this on:

The House overwhelmingly passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, H.R. 647 by a vote of 404-17. The Senate is expected to take action this week, and the bill is likely to pass. While this is good news, recent changes limit the program availability only to people who acquire a disability before the age of 26 instead of all individuals with a disability regardless of age.

 The purpose of the ABLE Act is to allow individuals with disabilities and their families to save and accumulate funds in a tax-free savings accounts. These accounts can pay for housing, transportation, home health, and other eligible expenses without jeopardizing benefits and eligibility for Medicaid or Social Security benefits. Limiting the program to people who acquire a disability before the age of 26 means a significant number of individuals who sustain brain injuries will not be helped by the ABLE Act.

 Congress needs to understand that the ABLE Act is important for all people with disabilities, not just those injured before the age of 26. Covering all age groups will help people with brain injuries to live as independently as possible and improve their economic statuses.

The Senate needs to hear from you before they vote on the ABLE Act! Call your Senators today and let them know that ALL people with disabilities should be eligible for an ABLE account! Senator Robert Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.) is the Senate bill sponsor, and there are 77 cosponsors. 

 You may contact your senators by phone or via email. If you email, be sure to include your name and your contact information. 


Click here to find your senators’ contact information.

The Brain on Fear

Posted in Las Vegas Injury Attorney, Personal Injury, Psychiatric & Psychological Issues, Soldiers, Veterans and Military Issues, The Human Brain

Even if people forget the details of a traumatic event or what is called explicit memory, the emotions associated with that event also known as implicit memory may remain ingrained in the brain for a long  time, says a new study.

In the context of fear, our brain differently encodes contextual memory of a negative event, such as the place, what we saw and the emotional response associated, the results found.

“The study helps explain how the processing of fearful memories can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder,” said project coordinator LluAs Fuentemilla from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) in Spain.

The study was published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory.

Fasting for Brain Health

Posted in Age & Alzheimer's Issues, Las Vegas Injury Attorney, The Human Brain

New research, from the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, reveals that intermittent fasting yields unforeseen benefits for brain health. Just two days of calorie restriction per week could delay the onset of degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and even protect against strokes. Not to forget, exercise also promotes brain health.

Spine and Brain Injury

Posted in Las Vegas Injury Attorney, Personal Injury, Spine Injury, Back Injury, Neck Injury and Bone Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Most research on spinal cord injuries has focused on effects due to spinal cord damage and scientists have neglected the effects on brain function. University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) researchers have found for the first time that spinal cord injuries (SCI) can cause widespread and sustained brain inflammation that leads to progressive loss of nerve cells, with associated cognitive problems and depression.

The research, published recently in two articles, one in of the Journal of Neuroscience, the other in Cell Cycle, highlights the close links between spinal cord injury and loss of brain function, and suggests potential treatment to prevent such changes.

Enriching Environment Good for Treating Traumatic Brain Injury

Posted in Personal Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

A violent blow to the head has the potential to cause mild to severe traumatic brain injury — physical damage to the brain that can be debilitating, even fatal. But to date, there is no effective medical or cognitive treatment for patients with traumatic brain injuries. Now a new study points to an ‘enriched environment’ — specially enhanced surroundings — as a promising path for the rehabilitation of mild traumatic brain injury patients.

Read the article at

PTSD can Develop Even Without Memory of the Trauma

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

I once heard a neuropsychologist declare that one could not have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and post concussion syndrome (PCS).  If you do not remember the trauma you are precluded from having PTSD since you do not remember the trauma.  Therefore if you have organic PCS, damage to the brain, and your memory of the trauma is absent, you PTSD.  The referenced neuropsychologist worked for the defense trying to disprove the existence of brain injury in the case.

There are many forms of memory and only some of these may be critical for the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), reports a new study by researchers at the University at Albany and the University of California Los Angeles. Their findings, published in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry, suggest that even with no explicit memory of an early childhood trauma, symptoms of PTSD can still develop in adulthood.

There are case reports of people who have experienced terrible life events that resulted in brain damage, some of whom developed syndromes similar to PTSD even though they had no recollection of the event itself.

 These reports suggest that explicit memory may not be an absolute requirement for PTSD, whereas other forms of learning, such as fear conditioning, may be required.

 Explicit memory is the type of memory that can be voluntarily recalled from prior experience and articulated.

The findings are consistent with the idea that one can get both post concussion syndrome and post traumatic stress disorder.

Fat Brain

Posted in Age & Alzheimer's Issues, Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney, 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)

Brain LipidsThe concept of being able to boost the health of the brain with good nutrition is really very exciting.  Lipids are good for the Brain.  New research shows lipids boost the brain.  That’s right, fat is brain fuel.

Researchers have pursued an investigation of the effect of lipids which bear polyunsaturated chains when they are integrated into cell membranes. The researchers have observed the presence of these lipids makes the membranes more malleable and therefore they become more sensitive to deformation and fission by proteins.

The presence of these lipids in the brain in abundance could represent a major advantage for cognitive function. This research has been published in the journal Science. It has been concluded that by decreasing the energetic cost of membrane bending and fission polyunsaturated phospholipids may help to support rapid endocytosis.

This research has clarified an understanding of why consuming oils which are high in polyunsaturated fatty acid content, in particular those containing omega-3s, is good for brain health. A good source of omega-3 is cold water oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Eating more of this type of fish may really improve brain health.

From Traumatic Brain Injury to Savant

Posted in Age & Alzheimer's Issues, Books, Articles, and Literature, Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney, 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, Publications, The Human Brain, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

I have been posting to this blog items and information I come across regarding Traumatic Brain Injury.  While reading professional journals, articles, and Scientific literature, I share things of interest.  One of those topics includes the unique and rare situation where a concussion can actually cause the brain to exhibit genius level processing.  (Of course that does not take away from the other negative signs, symptoms, and consequences of traumatic brain injury) Think of the popular movie Rainman.  A concussion or stroke does not usually enhance cognitive ability.

Darold Treffert, a physician who has studied savantism for many years, has chronicled the ways that people with no artistic interest or talent can suddenly develop a passion for painting or music after experiencing head trauma or other types of brain insult.

Recently, in the August 2014 issue of Scientific American, an article entitled  Accidental Genius was published. The articles talks about Jason Padgett who suffered a “severe head injury.” As a consequence, he was able to visualize and draw intricate geometrical shapes. He went on to develop a passion for math, physics, and drawing geometric shapes after he sustained a concussion following an assault.  Previously math-adverse, college dropout, Padgett now takes advance courses in math to better understand the geometric shapes he can draw.

Other case studies include:

  • Tommy McHugh – at 51, and with no particular interest in poetry, he suffered a hemorrhage in the lining of the skull. After the injury he went on to fill notebooks with poems.
  • Orlando Serrel – was knocked out by a baseball and developed a skill of doing calendar calculations.  He could determine the day of the week of any day since the injury occured.  He also recalls the weather everyday since his injury.
  • Derek Amato – 40 year old corporate trainer with no special interest in music, dove into the shallow end of a pool and sustained a severe concussion.  Following his discharge from the hospital, he became inexplicably drawn to the piano.
  • Tony Cicoria – orthopedic surgeon was hit by lightning and resuscitated by a nurse. He developed a consuming obsession with classical music after previously having no interest in that kind of music.
Lobes of the brain

Lobes of the brain

Neurologist, Bruce Miller, of the University of California, San Francisco, has been studying FTD.  FTD stands for frontal temporal dementia. It differs from Alzheimer’s dementia in that the degenerative process affects only the frontal lobes and not wider areas of the brain.

Researchers would like to unlock the key to obtaining acquired savantism, without the concussion.   How to bring out the inner-savant?   Various diagnostic tests including DTI, (diffuse tensor imaging), and DTT (Diffuse Tensor Tracking), as well as PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and NIRS (Near Infrared Spectroscopy) are able to capture brain activity during the carrying out of creative tasks.

The question is whether these studies are worth pursuing.

Acquired savantism provides strong evidence that a deep well of brain potential resides within all of us.  The challenge now is to find the best ways to tap into our inner savant – that little bit of Rain Man – while keeping the rest of our mental facilities intact.

Fish Oil and Omega-3 May Benefit Alcohol Abusers

Posted in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Omega-3 fish oil might help protect against alcohol-related neurodamage and the risk of eventual dementia, according to a study. Many human studies have shown that long-term alcohol abuse causes brain damage and increases the risk of dementia. The new study found that in brain cells exposed to high levels of alcohol, a fish oil compound protected against inflammation and neuronal cell death.

The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.