Definitive Signs You May Have Sustained a Brain Injury

brain-injury

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 30 percent of all injury deaths are caused by a victim sustaining some type of traumatic brain or head injury. In the state of New York, close to 20,000 people are hospitalized or killed every single year as a result of sustaining injury to their head or brain.

While many people do not realize the severity of a brain injury, others will be forced to face the consequences of such an injury for the rest of their lives.

If you have received a blow to the head, you fell and hit your head or you suffered some other type of injury that caused your brain to get knocked around, medical attention should be sought at once. Bumps, cuts, scrapes and bruises can all be signs of head trauma. Losing consciousness, being unable to remember what happened during or prior to the accident and passing out are also signs that a serious injury has occurred. In some cases, there may be no visible signs of injury at all.

If you experience any of the following signs, you may have suffered a concussion or more severe type of brain injury:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Difficulty remembering new information
  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to noise or light
  • Trouble with balance
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Dramatic changes in mood
  • More emotional than usual
  • Sleep problems

Common Events Capable of Causing Traumatic Brain Injury

Any time an individual receives a blow to the head, there is a definite possibility that he or she sustained some type of traumatic brain injury. The severity of the impact, the point of impact and a number of other factors will all affect the extent of injury.

The Mayo Clinic states that some of the most common events capable of causing traumatic brain injury include:

  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Falls off of raised surfaces
  • Car accidents and other vehicle-related collisions
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Violence or abuse
  • Explosions or other blasts, as often seen in combat situations

If you have recently been involved in an accident, it is important to get treated by a medical professional for a full assessment of your condition. Even if you do not feel any pain or notice any symptoms, go to a doctor so that he or she can give you a complete medical evaluation. There may be injuries that could become critical or fatal if not treated immediately. Seeking treatment could save your life.

This brain injury FAQs page can provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Tips to Help You Recover from Your Brain Injury

Not all concussions or traumatic head trauma will result in permanent brain damage. If you have suffered a concussion or other type of injury to your head or brain, it is important you take care of yourself. You can facilitate your recovery by getting sufficient rest, establishing a daily routine, asking for help when you need it, taking up a hobby and getting small amounts of exercise. Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants is also beneficial.

If you believe your brain injury was caused as a result of another person’s negligence, carelessness or wrongful conduct, you are not alone. You may be able to pursue damages to cover your injury-related expenses with the help of a skilled attorney. An attorney can review your case and advise you of the legal options available to you.

The Link Between Motorcycle Helmets and Traumatic Brain Injury

oklahoma-motorcycle-accidents

Motorcycle accidents are a common cause of traumatic brain injuries. The number of riders suffering traumatic brain injuries has increased as states have repealed universal helmet laws requiring all riders to wear protective headgear. Of course, any motorcyclist can suffer a traumatic brain injury, whether or not they’re wearing a helmet. But riders not wearing helmets are at much greater risk of suffering traumatic brain injuries.

Unfortunately, many drivers of cars and trucks are not alert for oncoming motorcycles. All experienced bikers know this. This puts motorcyclists at a far greater risk of a collision and of suffering brain injury or death in an accident. When you are on a motorcycle, there are no airbags and no safety belts. There is nothing standing between you and the pavement passing beneath your wheels. A helmet is the best protection available.

How Common Are Motorcycle Accidents and Serious Injuries?

A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analyzed the connection between motorcycle helmet use and head injuries based on more than 100,000 motorcyclists involved in crashes in 18 states. Approximately 57 percent of the riders were wearing helmets and 43 percent were not wearing helmets at the time of the motorcycle accident. Unhelmeted riders suffered nearly twice the percentage of head and facial injuries as those wearing helmets, the researchers found.

The researchers noted that 21 percent of the riders not wearing helmets suffered traumatic brain injury compared to 15 percent of those wearing helmets. The severity of the brain injury also correlated with helmet use. Seven percent of bikers not wearing helmets suffered severe traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle accident, while 4.7 of the riders wearing helmets had a severe TBI.
While some motorcyclists are adamant about their right to choose whether to wear a helmet, there is compelling evidence that helmets improve a rider’s odds of surviving a collision with less severe injuries.

A traumatic brain injury has a profound effect on a cyclist’s ultimate recovery. Hospital charges for those with a TBI were 13 times higher than for those who didn’t suffer such an injury. Further, those with a TBI were far less likely to be discharged home from the hospital. Riders with brain injuries are much more likely to require ongoing medical care and to be transferred to a rehabilitation center or nursing home. Finally, those with such brain injuries are more likely to die. Only diagnosed in 17 percent of hospital-admitted motorcycle accident victims, TBI sufferers accounted for 54 percent of accident fatalities.

Many States Have Partial Helmet Laws, Reducing Compliance

In the 1960s, the federal government encouraged states to enact universal motorcycle helmet laws requiring all riders to wear helmets by making certain kinds of federal aid available only to states that had helmet laws in place. In states that institute universal helmet laws, the rate of motorcycle fatalities and brain injuries typically drops, according to Consumer Reports. When such laws are repealed, the rates climb again.

In 1976, Congress stopped the U.S. Department of Transportation from penalizing states that did not have universal helmet laws, and state lawmakers began weakening or repealing the helmet laws.
Only 19 states in the U.S. have universal helmet laws. Twenty-eight states have partial laws requiring some motorcyclists to wear helmets. Oklahoma, for example, has a partial helmet law, requiring riders age 17 and younger to wear helmets. The NHTSA has found that in states with partial helmet laws, there is a lower compliance rate with the helmet law because of the difficulty police have in determining who is underage.  Less than 40 percent of minors involved in fatal accidents were wearing helmets, the NHTSA said.

As a motorcycle accident lawyer may tell you, if you’re not wearing a helmet, an insurance company will argue that you contributed in part to your own injury even if the accident wasn’t your fault. You may have more difficulty collecting compensation to pay your medical bills.

For some motorcyclists, helmets are uncomfortable or seem a distraction. But when faced with the alternative, it seems to be an easy decision to make.

New Study Sheds Light on Potential Long-Term Effects of TBI

Doctor and patient

A new study illustrates the long-term impact that traumatic brain injury (TBI) may have on victims.

The study came out June 25 in the online journal, Neurology. According to the study, TBI in the older U.S. military veterans whose medical records were reviewed in the study was associated with a 60 percent increase in the risk of developing dementia.

While this study certainly has implications for military personnel who are exposed to the risk of severe TBI in the field, it also has relevance to civilians.

The study looked at traumatic brain injuries that could result from not only military events but industrial accidents, automobile accidents and sports accidents as well, a co-researcher told the Los Angeles Times.

Study Finds Heightened Risk of Dementia in TBI Victims

In the study, researchers from the University of California-San Francisco and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center examined the medical records of 188,764 U.S. veterans ages 55 and older who were patients in the VA health system between 2000 and 2003 and who had not been diagnosed with dementia during that timeframe. Out of that group, 1,229 veterans had been diagnosed with TBI.

The researchers analyzed the records of both the TBI and non-TBI veterans from 2003 to 2012 and compared their dementia rates. The study found that 16 percent of the veterans with TBI developed dementia during the nine-year follow-up period, while only 10 percent of the veterans without TBI developed dementia.

The study’s results indicate that TBI in older military veterans may predispose them towards the development of dementia. Younger veterans and civilians should be concerned about the long-term effects of TBI as well, the researchers said.

As the Times points out, the study did not answer the question of whether victims of mild brain injuries, such as concussions that are often suffered in sports contests, may face a similar heightened risk of developing dementia.

The study also did not establish a clear link between TBI and dementia. It could be that other factors contribute to development of the condition, including genetic factors and alcoholism.

Research suggests that TBI may actually work in concert with those other factors to raise the risk of TBI, the Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) reports.

What Is Dementia?

As this study suggests, TBI victims and their families should pay close attention to the signs of dementia – even long after the TBI has appeared to heal. They may also wish to learn more about treating the condition.

According to WebMD, dementia is marked by a decline in mental skills and can impact one’s ability to carry out daily life activities. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

WebMD says that signs of dementia include memory loss, difficulties recognizing people and places, problems forming speech and troubles with controlling moods or behaviors.

Doctors may prescribe a wide range of medications and antidepressants to treat dementia, the Mayo Clinic states. However, care and support from those close to the victim will be crucial as well.

 

Submitted by Geoff McDonald & Associates , P.C.

Tis the Season for DUIs

Dui

We are in the vortex of the holiday season and one of the most festive times of year. Whether we’re celebrating with a karaoke machine at an office party, meeting up with old college roommates at some “old haunts” or winding down with family after a huge meal, chances are there’s alcohol involved. A little red wine or a shot of whiskey will bring life to any gathering, but it’s easy to go overboard, especially during the holidays. Many party people don’t intend to drink as much as they do, but still end up driving under the influence of alcohol. Not only is driving drunk illegal, but it is one of the most preventable types of car accidents. Unfortunately most drunk drivers (even “just the buzzed” ones) realize their bad decision until it’s too late; when they are facing a suspended license, a traffic violation, or time behind bars for killing an innocent motorist or pedestrian.

Drive Sober This Holiday Season

Drunk driving is a problem of epidemic proportions, but despite the efforts to educate young and old, amp up enforcement, or make laws stricter, alcohol related accidents continue to occur. According to the United States Department of Transportation, every 2 hours, three people are killed in alcohol-related highway crashes. It’s not to say that all efforts to prevent drunk driving are lost, but drivers must change their thinking and the way they choose to drive. Whether it means sacrificing a night of inebriated fun to be the designated driver or park the car and take a taxi home, making a commitment to be one less drunk driver on the road can save lives.

Many drivers assume that just having one or two drinks during the course of the evening gives them an automatic “ok” to get behind the wheel. Sure, you may have eaten a meal with your beer or drank a lot of water in between those cocktails and you might feel completely fine, but even a small amount of alcohol can start to impair your judgment. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcohol affects some people more quickly than they might think or feel.

Take a 150 lb. man. He’s at a holiday party, milling about with a beer in his hand, chatting with co-workers and after 20 minutes, he has finished his drink. His estimated Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level is about 0.02%, which is well below the legal limit of 0.08%. But even at a low BAC he might be feeling relaxed and his visual functions may begin to be impaired, as well as his judgment. After he finishes his beer, his officemate hands him a shot of hard alcohol. Within a short minute’s time, his BAC reaches close to 0.05%, at this point he should not consider driving as he may be impaired and his reaction time, coordination, and ability to track moving objects has slowed down considerably.

While everyone’s body reacts differently to alcohol, depending on their weight, overall health, and the type of drink, impairment can occur quickly. Your best prevention to being involved in a drunk driving accident is to make the verbal commitment not to drive while under the influence.

Say “Yes” to Holiday Celebrations and “No” to Drunk Driving

Are you afraid of being viewed as the “square” of the party because you refuse to drive even after a few drinks? If you have friends who will judge you for drinking responsibly, you should find more responsible and caring friends! If you have and your pals have a full calendar of parties this holiday season, why not carpool and take turns being a designated driver? Not only will you be saving gas, but you will also be saving lives during the holidays. Instead of exchanging gifts this year, why not give your friends the gift of being a sober driver? If you notice a partygoer who is contemplating driving while drunk, pay it forward and pay for a taxi fare. There are plenty of fun, lifesaving gift ideas to keep you and your loved ones safe from an alcohol-related accident.

 

Drive Sober and Save Up for Something Special

If you or someone you know is the type that thinks that “just a few drinks won’t affect me”, think again. Your choice to abstain from driving under the influence could be lifesaving this holiday season. Need more reason to say no? The typical DUI costs about $10,000 after all is done (including fees, fines, and bail). Would you rather pay off a not-so-smart DUI or would you rather buy tickets for your family to some place warm to escape the winter weather?

Sports Injuries: Signs that you have a traumatic brain injury

brain injury

Athletes frequently suffer injuries during games as well as during practice.  Ankle sprains, broken wrists, fractured collar bones, bumps and bruises are commonplace.  Trainers and team doctors keep busy by icing player injuries, taping up minor problems, and helping athletes manage pain so that they can get back out on the field or court.  Recently head injuries suffered by athletes have made headlines because of the problems former NFL players are experiencing.   Just a few days ago former NFL star and Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett admitted that he was suffering from a brain ailment that was likely the result of head injuries he suffered while playing football.  He is one of many former football players who are now living with a myriad of brain ailments.  While a traumatic brain injury is often the result of a hit to the head, the signs of a brain injury are not always immediately apparent or recognizable by the player, coach, trainer, or medical staff.  As a result players do not always get immediate treatment and instead resume participating in a sporting event, running the risk of aggravating the injury.

Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries

A traumatic brain injury is caused by a violent blow to the head.  When the hit to the head causes dysfunction of the brain cells, or bruising, torn tissues, bleeding or other damage to the brain, a traumatic brain injury has occurred.

Football players are particularly susceptible to head injuries because tackling is part of the sport.  Players weighing over 300 pounds are tackled and thrown to the ground by other, equally heavy players.  Despite wearing helmets and other protective gear, football players frequently suffer head injuries after being hit or tackled.  Football players are not the only athletes who suffer head injuries that impact the brain.  Head injuries are also common in rugby, cycling, soccer, volleyball, hockey, basketball, and skiing.  Each of these sports involves tackling, a ball moving at a high rate of speed, or the athlete moving at a high rate of speed.

Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury

Those who experience brain injuries may demonstrate a wide variety of symptoms.  The symptoms may be physical or psychological.  Some symptoms may appear immediately after the trauma, while others may not appear until days or weeks later.  According to facts compiled by DoSomething.org, 66% of teenagers who suffer concussions do not feel the injury was severe enough to tell an adult.  Symptoms of brain trauma varies depending on the type of brain injury, the severity of the brain injury, and the general health of the victim.  For mild trauma, the symptoms may include a loss of consciousness for up to a few minutes, confusion, headache, loss of balance, memory problems, concentration problems, nausea, drowsiness, and sensitivity to light or sound.  If the trauma is severe, symptoms can  include loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours, extreme confusion, slurred speech, weakness in fingers and toes, loss of coordination, persistent headache, seizures, vomiting, inability to awaken from sleep, agitation, and clear liquids draining from nose and ears.

A severe brain injury can leave the victim in a coma, semi-conscious state, or vegetative state.  It can also result in permanent nerve damage, cognitive problems, sensory and communication problems, and leave the victim more susceptible to degenerative brain diseases such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Legal Liability When an Athlete Suffers a Brain Injury

When an athlete suffers any type of injury during the course of a sporting event or during practice, it is difficult to place legal liability on another person or organization.  While a severe injury such as a brain injury, spinal cord injury, or any injury that leaves permanent damage is devastating for the athlete and his or her family, the possibility of such an injury is generally a known risk that athletes assume when they chose to participate in a sport.  In fact, athletes at all levels including student athletes, typically sign a waiver relieving the governing organization, coaches and other staff members of liability in the event of an injury.  Thus, a personal injury lawsuit by an athlete based on a traumatic brain injury suffered during a sporting event will likely fail.

The exception to the assumption of risk reality for athletes is when the organization is negligent.  This is the crux of the claim that former NFL players have asserted against the NFL– that the NFL negligently hid facts about the medical consequences of head injuries from players.  As a result such players were not able to make an informed decision about assuming the risk of such an injury.  Other instances in which an athlete may have a claim is where players are not properly supervised by staff, where players are not provided with the proper safety equipment, or where injured players are allowed to continue to play without proper medical clearance.

Even though sports organizations, schools, and the government have taken steps to make certain sports more safe, such as requiring helmets and other protective gear, head injuries remain a fact of life in many sports.  Should governing organizations be required to ensure that athletes who suffer permanent, debilitating injuries have medical insurance that will cover the injured athlete’s lifelong medical care related to such injuries?

Demon Speeding and Its Hellish Repercussions

demon speeding

Have you ever been pulled over for speeding only to notice cars passing you at a speed noticeably higher than the posted limit?  Frustrating, isn’t it.  Speeding seems to be an ongoing epidemic on our roadways, difficult to control and impossible to stop completely, even with hefty fines. Speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes in the U.S.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding accidents occur when a driver has been racing, driving too fast for conditions, or exceeding the posted speed limit.  Just because your car is fully equipped with the top of the line safety gear or your speedometer indicates that your vehicle has the ability to handle over 90 mph, doesn’t mean you should test either one.

A Driver Profile: The Speeder

The age old question is “Why do drivers speed even though they know it’s dangerous and illegal?”  It’s fair to say that all drivers have sped at one time or another, intentionally or unintentionally.  You’re out on the open freeway, in the middle of nowhere.  There are no cars or people for miles around or so it seems.  Even on those desolate stretches of highway, a patrol officer may find you and ticket you for driving above the posted speed limit.  Your excuse may vary, depending on what kind of driver you are.  If you are a thrill seeker, infamous for rarely driving the speed limit, who loves the feel of a dangerous high speed, you probably don’t have a valid excuse (or even attempt to make one) when you’re caught by the highway patrol.  If you consider yourself a law abiding, rule following driver, you most likely use the cruise control on long stretches of road and only speed when you are lost in the moment of the beautiful scenery or lost in the chapters of an audio book.

Despite numerous images and stereotypes, there is no particular driver who speeds.  Sure, there may be some truth (and coincidence) that a young driver, who navigates a sporty red car, has higher rate of speeding violations than the older driver who drives below the speed limit because his eye sight is failing and his car might be older.  But when you stick to the speed limit, while driving, watch the people passing you and you may be surprised by your observations.  Speeders are young and old, male and female, and drive luxury cars and clunkers. (Note: Don’t get too immersed in your observations; keep your eyes on the road).  Drivers, who are full of excuses and hard to change behaviors, are more likely to be involved in a speed related crash.  Drivers speed for numerous reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Drivers are in a hurry, rarely leaving extra time for traffic, weather, or other factors
  • Drivers are inattentive to their driving.  Many are too distracted to pay attention to the primary task of driving while other drivers spend so much time behind the wheel that they almost become “robotic”, unaware of their driving habits and behavior.
  • Drivers have the “Mightier than Thou” attitude.  They don’t take traffic laws seriously or they don’t think the laws are applicable to them.  Traffic laws do not offer exceptions.
  • Dangerous drivers rarely notice or admit to dangerous driving.  Chances are, if a driver knew that their driving was problematic and potentially fatal, they wouldn’t take such risks.  Our roadways are full of drivers in a state of denial.

Stop the Speeding Before it Starts          

Sometimes sharing the facts, can offer as a scare tactic or encourage drivers to change dangerous driving behaviors.  According to NHTSA, speeding is one of the most dangerous driving habits to have.  Not only does speeding increase the risk of an otherwise preventable accident, but speeding:

  • Reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around curves or objects (similar to the navigational skills of an impaired driver.
  • Extends the distance required to stop a vehicle in emergency situations (such as a car braking in front of you or an animal or pedestrian who ran onto the road).
  • Decreases the effectiveness of safety restraints such as airbags and seatbelts.
  • Increases the probability of death over speeds of 50 mph.
  • Makes it difficult for other drivers to judge how fast you are driving.

So, what happens when the facts aren’t enough to change the horrible habit of speeding?  That’s when the authorities step in and try to make some changes with the help of tools like speed cameras.  In large cities, where law enforcement is already delegated to other areas, speed cameras are a valuable tool to monitor speeding while taking care of the problem.

In an attempt to cut down speeding and potential accidents in Chicago, speed cameras were installed as a “practice run”.  In just 40 days of monitoring, the cameras, located throughout different areas of the city, caught 204,743 speeders.  Over 77,000 motorists were caught driving at least 11 mph over the speed limit while over 126,000 drivers were going between 6-10 mph over the speed limit.  If the city would have handed out tickets, rather than warnings, the total collection would have equaled $12.2 million.  While currently there is controversy whether or not Chicago will enforce ticketing via speed cameras, it’s clear that speeding is a problem.

Speeding kills, it’s bad for your car, it’s dangerous to your health, it makes our roadways more dangerous, and it rarely gets you from point A to point B any quicker.  If you have a “lead” foot, consider changing the way you drive.  Slow down, enjoy the scenery, save some gas, and nothing else changes your behavior, think of all the cash you’ll save by not paying the hefty fine of speeding ticket!

Protecting Our Young Football Players? Brain Injury

football brain injury

Would you let your child play football?

That’s a hot question these days as information about long-term medical problems among former players in the National Football League continues to be emerge.  The NFL recently agreed to pay $765 million to settle a lawsuit brought by thousands of former players suffering neurological problems. The players claim that the league knew of the potential risk of brain damage due to repetitive concussions, but did little to prevent the injuries from occurring.

Some former players link their current medical conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and other neurodegenerative diseases to their football playing days.

The barrage of recent media coverage regarding the NFL lawsuit is shining a light on the dangers of the sport and making parents across the country wonder whether the risks are worth it.

Study Shows Higher Risk of Brain Injury

A recent study in the medical journal Neurology suggests that professional football players are three times more likely to have such conditions as the general population. The study, which appeared last year, surveyed nearly 3,500 retired NFL players who were in the league between 1959 and 1988.

The league has taken major steps in recent years to make the game safer for players, both in terms of equipment and protocol. In the past, though, when a player got his “bell rung” and stumbled dizzyingly to the sideline, he was sent right back into the game as soon as possible, exposing the player to further head injuries.

Obviously, there’s a big difference between Little League and the NFL. The massive size, speed and power of players at the highest level is in no way comparable to young kids just picking up the sport in elementary school. You won’t see the kind of violent collisions in Pee Wee games that you do on Monday Night Football.

On the other hand, there’s also a big difference in the quality of protective equipment used by pros versus youngsters. Whereas qualified medical staff is always present at practices and games for college and pro teams, that’s not the case for younger players.

Undeniably, football at any level is violent. To “shake off” on injury and get back in the game is seen as admirable.  That’s just part of the culture of the sport —whether it’s the New York Jets or a Pop Warner team in Columbia, South Carolina. Taping an ankle and limping back out there to the applause of the fans is one thing. Returning to the game once you’ve “shaken the cobwebs” after a blow to the head is an entirely different matter.

Football Remains Popular Despite Injury Risks

Most youngsters who play football don’t sustain serious injuries, although almost everyone who plays long enough will get a little banged up from time to time.  It’s hard for a parent to draw the line. Head injuries, however, aren’t as easy to detect as a twisted ankle. A bruised brain poses a much greater risk for problems down the road.

Maybe youth leagues are safe but reservations start to creep in along about the junior high or high school level as the size, speed and power of the players increase. Regardless of the dangers, the sport remains a popular activity among young people. It is estimated that 3.5 million kids play in youth leagues and one million play in high school.

But how risky is it? A group of researchers in Virginia and North Carolina is hoping to shed some light on the subject, according to an article in Technology Review.  The researchers studied a high school team and two youth teams, including children aged 6-18, during a season. The researchers outfitted their helmets with accelerometers and more than 16,000 head impacts were recorded and measured during the 2012-13 season. Players were given pre-season and post season brain scans and neurological tests to review any changes in the brain. Results are still being analyzed.

Tools to Identify Players in Danger of Brain Injury

The researchers hope to develop tools to identify when a football player has been hit hard enough, or frequently enough, to risk a concussion or other brain injury.

The decision can be a tough one for parents. Most of us want our kids involved in extracurricular activities and believe participating on an athletic team builds confidence and discipline. We may wonder whether football is really more dangerous than soccer or skateboarding or surfing or driving a car or other activities. Many of us have fond memories of Friday nights under the lights and feel like a hypocrite denying the same experience to our children.

Still, keeping our children safe is a fundamental task as a parent. Each family must consider the pros and cons and make a decision that’s right for their child.

The Untold Dangers of Anesthesia

dangers or Anesthesia

The prospect of undergoing invasive surgery can be scary, especially for those who have never been “under the knife” before. While the risks of any surgery can be frightening, it is the untold side effects of anesthesia that may be most concerning for many patients. According to the Mayo Clinic, individuals who receive anesthesia may be at risk for the development of mental confusion, heart attack, stroke, or even death. Understanding why these conditions occur—and how they can be avoided—is crucial for those who are considering medical procedures that require anesthesia.

Permanent Mental Confusion

Anesthesia is designed to induce a coma-like state for men and women who are undergoing invasive surgery or other medical procedures. When used properly, anesthesia eliminates pain, erases memory, induces a state of unconsciousness, and artificially “paralyzes” the body. As anesthesia starts to wear off, patients often experience a high degree of drowsiness, confusion, and even agitation. While it is common for the patient to experience these symptoms on a short-term basis, there is also a risk of the development of permanent mental confusion following the use of anesthesia during surgery or other similar medical therapies.

Heart Attack

WebMD reports that individuals who receive anesthesia may also be at risk for the development of a heart attack. Traditionally, a heart attack occurs when the arteries of the heart become blocked with plaque and fatty deposits—thus limiting the amount of blood supply to the working organ. However, research shows that certain types of medications, including those found in anesthesia, can also be to blame when it comes to the development of this type of condition. Individuals who have a family history of heart disease or have suffered a heart attack in the past may not be appropriate for treatments that require the use of anesthesia.

Stroke

As with a heart attack, stokes occur when blood supply to a certain part of the body—in this case, the brain—is limited. Unfortunately, recovery from a stroke can be quite difficult, and may result in permanent disability in regards to specific bodily functions. Anesthesia is often blamed for the development of a stroke due to its association with increasingly high blood pressure levels and dangerous heart arrhythmias. Patients who have high blood pressure often require close monitoring during anesthesia to avoid the development of this serious and de-habilitating condition.

Death

Death is perhaps the most serious danger associated with medical treatments requiring anesthesia. While a patient can die following anesthesia as a result of a heart attack or stroke, infection, allergic reactions, and over dosages can also be fatal. Individuals who are scheduled to receive anesthesia should be sure to meet with their medical team well in advance of the planned procedure to discuss both the risks and benefits of the treatment. Patients who do not feel comfortable receiving anesthesia after speaking with their healthcare team should consider what other options are available to them when treating their specific medical condition.

Organizations that Have Given Their Heart to Children with CP

Children with CP

What is CP?

CP, formally known as Cerebral Palsy, is the name given to a group of neurological defects that lead to physical disabilities in the course of a child’s growth from infancy through roughly the fifth year, when the diagnosis is fully fleshed out.

The defects are often marked by tremors and loss of sensation, a symptom that also appears in a large number of individuals suffering from early stage Parkinson’s disease. The difference is, those who develop CP do so largely within the first three years.

If undetected at birth, as in the case of athetoid or dyskinetic CP, the affects will appear much sooner, producing difficulty sitting, maintaining a sitting posture without falling over, and walking and speaking distinctly. Because this form of CP affects the tongue and vocal cords, some children may even drool.

CP Types and Symptoms

There are many other symptoms and, in fact, types of CP. Typing is based on symptomatology, and the causes are as varied as the mother developing German measles, drinking alcohol, or taking illicit drugs during the first two trimesters (or six months) of pregnancy. Other causes include (but are not limited to) serious infections like toxoplasmosis, herpes, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), poor diet, and exposure to toxic substances. CP may even be caused by multiple births, small pelvis and breech presentation (buttocks first instead of the head). Even low blood pressure and premature birth may trigger the neurological anomaly.

The disease is tragic, turning a beautiful newborn into an uncommunicative, possibly drooling victim when CP is fully diagnosed.  Nor is the mother always to blame. In fact, aside from the obvious triggers – tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs and unsafe sex – CP is pretty much an equal opportunity brain defect, and even after more than a half-century of research doctors and clinicians are unsure what causes it.

Birth injury is one suspect, as when the placenta is damaged during labor (sometimes by use of a vacuum extractor or forceps, when delivery is breech). Premature delivery in the case of a difficult and premature labor when the fetus is too young to cope with the stresses of life outside the uterus is also suspected.

 Where to Turn for Help

The discovery that a newborn has CP is such a shock to the system some parents never fully recover. In fact, this tiny scrap of humanity, for whom parents have waited almost a year (and in whom resides all their best hopes and ambitions for the future), can tear apart a family faster than more mundane issues like money, infidelity and sexual orientation.

Unable  to admit the awful truth – what they see as some defect on their part(s) – these parents will struggle from day to day, trying to adapt to a care regimen that is nothing like the once described in the baby books. While friends struggle to keep their active two-year-old out of cupboards, rooms and the family dryer, parents of children with CP struggle just to see their baby sit up.

Other parents, firmly grounded and with reliable social safety nets (from workplace friends, high school and college friends, even friends from church or bible study or charitable organization work) will find help, because no one gets through this alone.

That first cry for help may go out to NICHCY, the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, an information clearinghouse that outlines disabilities and organizations designed to help desperate parents.

The second call will be to the Cerebral Palsy Organization, which offers everything from definitive advice about classifying, or staging, the severity of CP – an essential element to getting help and one which your doctor may not be comfortable making – to a website and call center to answer those pressing questions.

Other organizations include the Cleveland Children’s Clinic, in Ohio, consistently rated by U.S. News and World Report as one of the “Best Children’s Hospitals” for its staff of more than 300 pediatric medical and surgical professionals. Along the same lines, Gillette Children’s Hospital offers a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center in conjunction with Region’s Hospital, the “go to” hospital in St. Paul (Minnesota).

A website devoted exclusively to teen Cerebral Palsy offers chat pages where CP teens can engage one another in conversation about their illness and gain the courage to work harder and face the world. The point? Everyone knows teens would almost rather confront Freddy (A Nightmare on Elm Street) than talk to their parents! A similar site for post-teens is Cerebral Palsy World.

Finally, for those who are financially unable to care for their CP child, cerebralpalsycosts.com offers a wealth of information on how to access various government programs (Social Security Disability Insurance, for example, or Medicaid/Medicare) to fund the more than $1.148 million it costs caregivers to raise the CP infant to adulthood.

These disabled children funding groups include state aid and county aid, but not hospital charitable programs or other charitable institution funding. Do all the legwork, even if you are exhausted, and you may come across a pleasant surprise, like a community hospital which provides indigent or very low income patients with complete financial support except for prescriptions and elective outpatient programs.

Managing Doctor and Hospital Bills after a Car Accident

medical bills

When You’re Still in Sticker Shock

If you were involved in an automobile accident, and if you have no medical insurance, you had better hope the accident happened in a no-fault state, where accident costs fall equally on both parties’ auto insurance policies. If it didn’t and you actually opened the hospital bill, you may need to go back to that same hospital to be treated for a heart attack!

Hospital bills in August of 2013, on the cusp of the Obamacare act – formally known as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – are unbelievably high. It is almost a case of your entire fortune and your first-born, with coverage for critical care costing more than $3,500 per day.

Under no-fault, it’s easy to get insurance companies to pay up: in fact, they are mandated by law to do so. Unfortunately, if they don’t pay all the bills, deeming some the insurance owner’s responsibility – did you ask for and receive PTSD therapy, a home-care nurse or outside caregiver, or an at-home heart monitor? – you will be unable to sue your insurance company for full restitution.

During Sticker Shock Recovery

Sticker shock recovery may be more difficult and prolonged than actual physical healing, depending on not only the kinds of care you need in the hospital but the geographic area where you live. Costs for Florida-based treatment of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) run almost $63,000. The same treatment in a Minnesota hospital runs about $21,000.

In spite of such disparities, it can be said that, in the northern tier of states – except Washington, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey – hospital costs are lower than the southern tier. The exceptions noted above are not only populous states, but states where workers make very good incomes; two factors which make costly insurance self-explanatory.

Along the southern tier, Florida and Texas are expensive. Another Pacific Coast state, California, is equally expensive. But there are exceptions, and in general, hospital costs across the U.S. form a crazy quilt of medical expenses for inpatient hospital care that make little sense at first glance. For those interested in delving deeper into costs, a visit to the electronic pages for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, has a wealth of information.

What You Can Expect in Fault Auto Insurance States

If your auto accident is very expensive, both in terms of property damage and bodily injury, and you live in Michigan – which mandates Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Property Protection (PPI), and Residual Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability (BI/PD) – you will eventually end up with a fat folder of bills from hospitals, doctors, medical professionals and even some people you never heard of.

For example, if you had an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), you will get one bill from the hospital and another for the individual or group that “reads” the test. In a blessedly few cases, you may get separate bills from the technician who performed the MRI, the individual who examined the scan, and the company or division in the hospital which owns the device. Good luck sorting that out!

Michigan’s minimum coverage limits for the various aspects of auto insurance. PIP pays all “reasonable and necessary” medical bills up to three years, including lost wages. PPI pays up to $1 million, which may seem like a fortune until you add up the medical bills. The BI/PD portion of that policy indemnifies the driver or policy holder for any out-of-state property damage; the limit is $10,000. The minimum amount you are required to shell out – which varies from one insurance company to the next (welcome to free enterprise!) – will pay $20,000 per each person injured or killed, and $40,000 for each accident where several individuals are hurt or killed.

What about All Those Bills?

Your insurance adjuster will love you if you start a tabbed file for every kind of bill you receive after a fender-bender. If you don’t, and he or she has to wade through the paper tsunami you have created, you may not get the same kind of fast, generous service settling the bills as someone who has will.

If you’re not a paper-pusher and your main job is making sure the plastic bubble in the bag-making machine doesn’t collapse, let your wife help. You might even drag in your teenagers to give them first-hand experience with the way insurance works.

At the beginning, you should send a note to every provider who sends you a bill explaining that the services are the result of an auto accident, and that your insurance provider is handling the bills. Use your insurance-generated claim number and the name of your adjuster in every piece of correspondence. If your letter or bill is more than a page, carefully staple the pages or – if your adjuster says don’t – preface every document with a fax-cover page (your name, fax number, telephone number, claim number, adjuster’s name, and a line item indicating how many pages you are submitting including the fax cover page). Copy every piece of outgoing mail relating to the accident.

Make copies of the prescriptions your doctor orders, and get receipts for every single item you purchase in relation to your injury. As long as you are careful about filling in the appropriate subsections on claim forms, your adjuster will see your behavior not as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) but as the sign of an organized mind. After all, that’s what he (or she) does in the office.

 

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