Brain and Spine Injury Law Blog

Brain and Spine Injury Law Blog

NABIS 28th Annual Conference on Legal Issues in Brain Injury

Posted in Uncategorized

NABIS 2015NABIS has asked me to post this announcement for the 28th Annual Conference on Legal Issues in Brain Injury. This is a premier annual event designed to educate advocates of those suffering traumatic brain injury.  Both a legal conference and medical conference are presented.  Check it out.

Co-Chairs Kenneth Kolpan and Simon Forgette, leaders in the fields of traumatic brain injury and  trial, have consistently presented the nation’s top educators and medical and legal experts for over a decade.

 

Brain Injury Causes Chronic Degenerative Changes

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

There is a widespread misunderstanding about the true nature of traumatic brain injury and how it causes chronic degenerative problems, researchers argue. The authors propose that chronic brain damage and neuropsychiatric problems after trauma are largely caused by long-term inflammation in the brain. They say inflammation is a key culprit behind the symptoms linked with TBI, including brain atrophy and depression.

This leads to the statement that Traumatic Brain Injury is not just an event but a process.  The long term affects of Brain Injury go largely untreated in mild and moderate cases.

In a perspective article published in the latest issue of Neurotherapeutics, the two authors — Alan Faden, MD, a neurologist and professor of anesthesiology, and David Loane, PhD, an assistant professor of anesthesiology, propose that chronic brain damage and neuropsychiatric problems after trauma are to a large degree caused by long-term inflammation in the brain. In their view, this inflammation is a key culprit behind the myriad symptoms that have been linked with traumatic brain injury and mild traumatic brain injury, including brain atrophy, depression and cognitive decline.

Dr. Faden and Dr. Loane also say that there has been too much emphasis on a specific diagnosis known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the set of symptoms and pathology that has been found in some former professional football players. They argue that this may deflect focus from other mechanisms, which may be more important and treatable. They say that although chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a serious problem, relatively few people have been diagnosed with this condition. Instead, they contend, researchers and journalists should focus more on the fact that even repeated concussive impacts or mild traumatic brain injury may trigger chronic brain inflammation that can persist for years and cause lasting damage.

Brain Myths

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Christian Jarrett

Christian Jarrett Christian Jarrett is a cognitive neuroscientist turned science writer. He’s a columnist for 99U.com, author of The Rough Guide to Psychology, editor of 30-Second Psychology, and co-author of This Book Has Issues. His next book due in 2014 is Great Myths of the Brain. He recently wrote a book entitled Great Myths of the Brain.  He used the latest research to tease fact from fiction in contemporary neuroscience and lists the following as 10 Great Brain Myths:

1). Many school teachers around the world believe neuromyths, such as the idea that children are left-brained or right-brained, or that we use just 10 per cent of our brains. This is worrying. For example, if a teacher decides a child is “left-brained” and therefore not inclined to creativity, they will likely divert that child away from beneficial creative activities.

2). On a similar note, educational campaigners have misappropriated neuroscience findings to support their cause. For example, Leonard Sax, a psychologist who ran the organization that used to be known as the National Association for Single Sex Public Education, says that girls and boys should be taught differently and separately because of differences in their brains. I looked at one of the key studies that he cites in his book: It’s clear that Sax over-interpreted the tentative results to make groundless claims. In case you’re wondering, a 2014 meta-analysis found no evidence for single-sex education being beneficial for boys or girls.

3). The California-based neuroscientist V.S Ramachandran has fuelled incredible hype and myth around mirror neurons. He credits these cells with bringing the great leap forward in human culture, and he has argued that a broken mirror neuron system is the cause of autism. The latest research suggests otherwise: it’s time to bury this harmful brain myth.

4). Brain myths are being used to justify gender stereotypes. Women have to deal with enough gender stereotype BS as it is, without bad neuroscience adding to the misery. Unfortunately that’s exactly what happened last year when researchers got in a tangle over a wonky brain wiring study – they said it supported the idea that men are good at map-reading and women at multi-tasking. The study didn’t even look at these activities.

5). Neuro-bunk is being used to scare people about the effects of modern technologies. Spewing most of this barrage of “neuro-bollocks” is Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield. She suggests the internet is destroying our memories and identities, when the evidence suggests quite the opposite. Worst of all she has linked the rise of the internet with the increased rates of autism diagnosis, even though experts say the two are completely unrelated.

6). Brain training companies frequently make unfounded claims about the benefits of their products. One myth here is that playing their games can revolutionize your brain health, more than say socializing or reading. In October, dozens of neuroscientists wrote an open letter warning that the “exaggerated and misleading claims [of the brain training industry] exploit the anxiety of older adults about impending cognitive decline.”

7). Brain myths around coma give families false hope. Experts have analyzed the portrayal of coma in Hollywood and the condition is presented in an unrealistically positive way – patients are depicted sun-tanned and healthy, and they often emerge from years of coma apparently unscathed. In fact, most coma patients do not recover fully or even at all. There are many other harmful brain myths pertaining to injury, dementia and epilepsy, among other conditions.

8). The “chemical imbalance” myth of mental illness isn’t just wrong, it also places too much focus on biological explanations for mental illness. This might sound harmless, but in fact research shows that biological explanations increase stigma and dent patients’ hope for recovery.

9). Confusion between genuine neuroscience and neuro-bunk is particularly problematic in the world of business. Neuro-linguistic programming remains popular even though a recent scholarly review concluded that the movement “represents pseudoscientific rubbish”. Meanwhile, the new fields of “Neuroleadership” and “Neuromanagement” are mostly psychology dressed up as brain science; actual brain-based insights are rare and, so far, usually based on poor research. The risk is that businesses adopt practices that are ineffective or even damaging.

10). Why do journalists keep sticking the word “Brain” in their headlines even when their piece isn’t about the brain? It seems it’s no longer enough to sell an article with titles like “The secret to why you procrastinate” or “Science explains why you find email addictive” – today it’s your brain that procrastinates and it’s your brain that’s addicted. Last year, an Atlantic article even promised the “neuroscience guide to negotiations with Iran” (in fact, it was all psychology and history). This misappropriation of the brain is fuelling cynicism and dulling our attention to real neuroscience research

Brain Injury and Teenage Drug Use

Posted in Las Vegas Injury Attorney, Las Vegas Truck Accident Attorney, Las Vegas Wrongful Death Attorney, Personal Injury, Psychiatric & Psychological Issues, The Human Brain, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Uncategorized
Depression

Is traumatic brain injury early in life a precursor to drug use?  Teenagers who have suffered a traumatic brain injury are twice as likely to drink alcohol or use drugs when compared with whose who have never experienced a similar blow or trauma to the head.  Young adults who’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are more than four times more likely to take the drug than those without a history of the injury.

That’s according to a study of Ontario high school students that was published November 2014 in The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation.

For years, researchers noticed this unfortunate combination in many young patients. They had either sustained a head injury while drinking or high on drugs; or were injured — for instance, while playing sports — and subsequently developed substance abuse problems.  TBI is described as any hit or blow to the head that results in the individual being knocked unconscious for at least five minutes, or spending at least one night in the hospital due to symptoms associated with the injury. The researchers explained that some of these more milder cases of TBI may be referred to as concussions, but it’s important not to simplify this term.

Curious about whether this was part of a more widespread phenomena, hospital researchers teamed up with other experts at CAMH, which is responsible for the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, one of the longest-running school surveys worldwide. For the first time, the 2011 survey asked about traumatic brain injury, defined as any hit or blow to the head that resulted in being knocked out for at least five minutes or spending at least one night in the hospital.

Data from that survey was used in the study. Experts pored over responses of 6,383 teens in Grades 9 to 12, considered representative of all Ontario students in those grades. About 20 per cent said they had suffered a brain injury in their lifetime. Among this group, the odds of substance use were significantly greater.

This is a major concern when evaluating young people.  Drug use may be caused by traumatic brain injury.  Stay tuned.

Helmet Update

Posted in Soldiers, Veterans and Military Issues, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Concussion in Military

Ms. Cheryl K. Chumley posted the following blog about the use of defective helmets for the military: defective since they can actually make blast head injury worse than with no helmet.  Ms. Chumley
Displayed the following with permission from The Washington Times.

The post brings up helmet issues.  Nowadays you see skiers, horseback riders, and most other sports with physical contact participants, wearing protective gear and specifically helmets. The trend is in response to what we now know about repeat trauma to the head.  In the case of the military there are injuries relating to explosion blasts.  Blasts have shockwaves that put excessive force on the body and head, and the brain inside that head.

A helmet designed by the U.S. military to protect soldiers from traumatic brain injuries during explosions could actually cause worse medical damage, researchers concluded.

The Army Times reported that officials with the Naval Research Laboratory have been testing a myriad of designs on the helmet, which is called the Conformal Integrated Protective Headgear System and which nearly covers the face of the wearer.

But they haven’t been able to find a prototype that truly protects the jaw and face from blasts, while at the same time prevents the skull from suffering more damage from the waves that emanate from the bombs or explosions, The Blaze reported.

Researchers are concluding that while the helmet may cover more of the face, it doesn’t actually protect from more explosive effects.

“In some cases, waves trapped by the geometry produced increased pressure when reduced pressure was expected,” the researchers found. “Specific injury mechanisms and prediction of injury severity … remains elusive.”

The Aging of the Brain

Posted in Age & Alzheimer's Issues, The Human Brain

The beginning of a scientific discovery can start with something so basic it might be overlooked.

As we age, our short term memory fades. This is less about our ability to focus our attention and more about our inability filter out surrounding distractions. New research from Neuron shows that when we learn (train our brain) to differentiate a sound between progressively more disruptive distractions, we reduce our overall distractibility.

Alcohol and the Brain

Posted in Las Vegas Injury Attorney, Personal Injury, The Human Brain

We all know that drinking and driving is against the law but did you know that Chronic misuse of alcohol results in measurable damage to the brain. A new study uses high-resolution structural magnetic resonance scans to compare the brains of individuals with a history of alcoholism versus those of healthy light drinkers. The abstinent alcoholics showed pronounced reductions in frontal and superior white matter tracts.

Drinking is not good and a no-brainer – no pun intended.

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.