5 Things to Consider Upon Returning to Work after a Traumatic Brain Injury

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After sustaining a concussion or other type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), there is no question that the path to recovery may be long and grueling. While rest and relaxation are important, taking steps to become more active may also be beneficial in the recovery process. Even returning to work could be helpful in certain circumstances.

It is not uncommon for survivors of traumatic brain injuries to become anxious to get back to a somewhat “normal” routine as soon as possible. While not all TBI survivors will be able to return to work or enjoy life as they once did, some may be able to rejoin the workforce with proper precautions.

If you have sustained a traumatic brain injury, and feel you have recovered to the degree that you are capable of returning to work, here are five things you need to do:

1. Talk with your doctor about returning to work.

Before you return to work, it is important you discuss it with your doctor. Not all TBI symptoms are severe, yet even mild symptoms could cause significant, long-term damage. If you return to work too soon, you could cause more damage than good. Added stress can have a negative impact on TBI recovery. Since your doctor has an in-depth understanding of the extent of your injuries, as well as how your recovery is going, he or she can best advise you on the pros and cons of going back to work at your current stage of recovery.

2. Coordinate a work schedule with your employer.

Once your doctor has cleared you to return to work, it is important you take the time to sit down with your employer and coordinate a sensible work schedule. You should not try to work on the same schedule you did prior to your injury. Ease back into work. You likely need to arrange to have reduced responsibilities at first. You should also plan to work shorter hours and be allowed to take more frequent breaks, particularly if your symptoms get worse. Do not worry about coming across as lazy, as you are far from that. It takes a lot of strength and tenacity to return to work after suffering a traumatic brain injury.

3. Take precautions to avoid hazards at work.

After suffering a traumatic brain injury, it is extremely important for you to use caution to avoid hazards at work. Do not perform work that requires you to climb ladders or work at heights. Do not attempt to lift any boxes or move heavy objects around. Driving after a TBI may be dangerous as well. If your job requires you to drive, ask your employer to put you on a desk job for the time being. Working with machinery is not advised, as hand-eye coordination and mental capacity are likely to be diminished. The bottom line is, if some part of your job requires you to do a task that could cause you injury or harm, ask for help from a co-worker or ask your boss to reassign the task. There is no reason to put yourself further at risk.

4. Get lots of rest.

Traumatic brain injuries can affect a person’s physical capacity, as well as his or her cognitive and emotional capacities. If you do not get sufficient rest, the stress on your body may be too much for your brain to easily handle. Getting a lot of rest is one of the most essential parts of any TBI recovery plan. Your brain needs downtime to heal – time when it is not trying to assimilate information while watching TV, playing video games, reading, having conversations with others or trying to figure out problems at work.

5. Get regular checkups.

It is really easy to get involved with work and other activities while recovering from a traumatic brain injury. It is also easy to forget or ignore the need for regular checkups. If you do not want your recovery to regress, go see your doctor for regularly scheduled checkups or when symptoms appear to worsen. By doing this, your doctor will be able to closely monitor your progress and address any possible concerns. The earlier symptoms are caught and treated, the better your chances are of achieving a full recovery.

Source:

CDC – Heads Up: Facts for Physicians about Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI)

Can Brain Injury Cause Domestic Violence?

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Domestic violence among NFL players has become a hot topic. Amid the controversy about how the NFL has handled domestic violence incidents, the question comes up: Can brain injury be to blame for domestic violence inflicted by professional football players?
The Washington Post recently reported on an HBO Real Sports documentary addressing a possible link between domestic violence and brain injuries. The documentary suggests that some players who have committed domestic violence may suffer from a type of brain injury known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

What is CTE?

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain. This type of disease is most often found in boxers, football players, hockey players and other athletes who have a history of sustaining repeated blows to the head. This type of repetitive trauma to the head and brain can cause concussions, as well as long-term or permanent damage.
Not all individuals who have suffered repetitive blows will experience these symptoms. Some may not even realize they have CTE until years or even decades later, when the brain tissue has already experienced severe degeneration and abnormal proteins have built up. Once the brain tissue degenerates, common symptoms of CTE include:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impulse control problems
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Progressive dementia
  • Suicidal thoughts or tendencies

Football-Related Head Injuries

While a brain injury does not excuse domestic violence, the documentary does raise new concerns about the impact of head injuries sustained by football players. Are football players, and other athletes who suffer repetitive head trauma, more prone to violence? If so, what can be done to address the issue without allowing CTE to become an excuse for violent behavior?
Domestic violence is a serious crime. Lashing out violently toward another individual, particularly a loved one, is never acceptable. The only problem is that imprisonment will not resolve a traumatic brain injury.
Thousands of former players are suing the NFL as a result of their concussion-related injuries and damages. There are also a number of family members who have sued the NFL, claiming a CTE connection in the wrongful death of a loved one.

What about players whose abusive behavior may be related to concussions or other traumatic injuries? What are their rights? What further action can be taken to minimize head trauma and risk?

Dangers To Children

The many questions surrounding this topic include the issue of whether young kids should be allowed to play tackle football. We already know that concussions and head trauma can have long-lasting negative consequences, both physical and mental. Even players who do not progress to professional leagues may suffer from CTE and other problems associated with brain injuries. Children who play contact sports can suffer the same type of damage.
Safety is obviously of the utmost concern for parents of football players of any age. Parents deserve to have all of the facts about CTE and its potential link to a range of behaviors, including violence. Only with knowledge will we be able to minimize the risk of injuries to both children and adults.

Hazing and Collegiate Level Play

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and so we turn the spotlight on an organized form of bullying: college athletic hazing. Hazing comes in many forms, including the forced consumption of alcohol, engagement in sexual activities, and other physically and emotionally devastating actions. Hazing is such a destructive act that it has prompted colleges and universities to shut down entire sports seasons in an attempt to put an end to it. Unfortunately, it continues to resurface over and over again, despite such drastic efforts.

Prevalence of College-Level Hazing

Even though countless collegiate organizations have spoken out against hazing and have taken steps to reduce it on their campuses, the existence of hazing in college sports is still considered to be par for the course at many schools. But, just how prevalent is it?

Based on studies done over the last 15 years, college athletic hazing continues to be a problem, despite efforts by administrators and educators to end the devastating ‘rite of passage’. For example, a 1999 survey conducted by Alfred University showed that as many as 80% of college athletes in NCAA schools had been victim to hazing practices by teammates. In 2008, the University of Maine’s College of Education and Human Development conducted research that showed varsity teams (74%) and club sports groups (64%) were among the student organizations with the highest level of hazing activity.

Injuries Athletes Have Sustained as a Result of Hazing

The act of hazing is of great concern, not only for the emotional scars it leaves, but because hazing can cause irreversible physical and mental damage. The list of injuries sustained by college athletes during a hazing rite is extensive. It varies from hospitalization due to alcohol toxicity to traumatic brain injuries, and even death.

No official national hazing organization exists, so numbers are difficult to track. However, there has been at least one hazing-related death on college campuses every year since 1970. The percentage of those deaths that can be attributed to athletic hazing is unknown, however, sports teams and fraternities consistently have the highest number of hazing events reported.

Is Hazing a Form of Bullying?

The connection between bullying and hazing is a controversial one. Some consider hazing to be a form of bullying, while others believe that athletic hazing specifically is not bullying, in part because some of the actions are considered to be “voluntary” on the part of the victim. However, it’s an act of aggression, pressure, and intimidation where the victim is forced to endure humiliating, painful acts in order to be ‘accepted’ by his or her peers. So, college athletic hazing is a form of group bullying.

What to do if You Have been Hazed

Victims of hazing often don’t report it for reasons including embarrassment and the desire to be part of a group. However, if you’ve been hazed, or are feeling pressured to participate in the rituals, report it to your school immediately. Many schools have a way to report it anonymously, but still, some victims don’t feel comfortable either way. If that’s the case, contact the local police instead of campus security.

If you are unsure whether or not you should report the incident, consult your parents, clergy or other trusted family, friend or community member. This is especially important if you’ve been threatened. After all, if it’s happening to you, it’s happening to others, too.

Prevent and Raise Awareness to Hazing

Myriad groups, including Stop Hazing, Pacer, Stomp Out Bullying, and Hazing Prevention, sponsor events and provide anti-hazing education to the public. Even collegiate sports organizations, such as the NCAA, have anti-hazing programs in place. Of course, the end goal is to stop it altogether, but organizations can’t do it alone. Such a prevalent and historic issue requires help from the community at large.

Fortunately, there are ways that individuals can make a difference and help raise awareness about hazing to stop it in its tracks. Joining an anti-hazing group and participating in their events is a great place to start.

There is even a free app designed to make it easier to learn about and report hazing, as it “provides access to resources and state-by-state facts about hazing.” The app provides a list of local organizations and allows for the ability to send video or photos of the hazing event directly to the reporting agency of the user’s choice.

 

Awareness of the damage caused by hazing, as well as efforts to end it, should not be limited to the month of October. Diligence in resisting and ending hazing should be a year round endeavor on the parts of everyone. School administrations can’t end it without our help.

This guest post brought to you by Jason Lee.

Resources Available to Help Brain Injury Victims and Their Caregivers Cope with Recovery Challenges

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Families who have a loved one with a brain injury are often overwhelmed, devastated and struggling with loss, and need support to make it through one of life’s most difficult situations. It is important to have access to the resources and support available to you.

According to the Alabama Head Injury Foundation (AHIF), more than 10,000 individuals sustain a traumatic brain injury each year. The question is, where can these individuals and those caring for them turn for assistance? What resources are available? Who can answer their questions? What services are provided to aid victims through the recovery process?

The AHIF has resource coordinators you can contact to get assistance with home modification, securing disability payments, securing medical equipment, support meetings, respite care for caregivers and other important services. The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAUSA) has a number of resources for family members and caregivers to help them understand more about what lies ahead, as well as how to manage stress and cope with long-term issues. Other resources include Share the Care™ and BrainLine.org.

It is devastating to have a loved one who is suffering from a traumatic brain injury. The future may hold months or years of recovery and treatment, and it is often a very slow process. People who have suffered a mild traumatic brain injury can have many difficulties, including memory loss, deep fatigue, emotional ups and downs, headaches and ongoing trouble in every aspect of life.
Potential long-term consequences of a traumatic brain injury can include personality changes, anxiety, depression, angry outbursts and other emotional problems. The physical repercussions often include ringing in the ears, nausea, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, blurred vision and sensitivity to light and sound, among others.

More serious cases of brain injury often require surgery to release the pressure on the brain. Families are thrown into fear and despair, facing an uncertain future and doing their best to stay hopeful and positive. Do not hesitate to reach out and get the help you need to make it through these difficult times.

Common Struggles Facing Brain Injury Victims and Caregivers

Brain injury victims generally have a long road to recovery. The prognosis for the injured person could be unclear, and family members don’t know if their loved one will recover memory, or be able to once again be fully functioning. If you have a loved one who has suffered a brain injury, many difficult challenges can arise on a daily basis. Common struggles include:

  • A TBI victim may be unable to think or function as he or she did prior to the injury. Physical and cognitive difficulties are common, and abilities can be greatly compromised. For less serious brain injuries, recovery takes a long period of rest as the body rebuilds. It may be difficult to have patience, but it is important to recognize that the process will take time.
  • There may be assumption that an individual has recovered due to outward physical appearance. While a victim of TBI could appear to be normal, it doesn’t mean the brain is functioning at its normal level or ever will be. Adjusting to new situations can be difficult.
  • While those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury may need to relearn how to talk, walk and perform other tasks that we take for granted, there is no need to treat a survivor as a child. Always communicate with respect and kindness and assume your loved one can understand you.
  • There is a tendency to fall into negativity, depression or despair. Try to be positive. Recovering from a brain injury may be a long process. Be patient with your recovery or with your loved one. Offer your unconditional support and maintain hope for what the future may hold.

Loved ones and caregivers can also face a multitude of struggles. Some of the most common are:

  • Exhaustion resulting in physical and mental burnout
  • Personal blame and feelings of guilt
  • Lack of financial resources or support
  • Feelings of despair or helplessness

Coping with a Brain Injury

Recovering from a brain injury or supporting a loved one who is recovering from a brain injury includes getting help and support. You don’t need to go through this alone. Whether you are a brain injury survivor, the loved one of a survivor or a loyal caregiver, many helpful resources are available. Working with others who have dealt with similar issues can help you face the challenges ahead, and give you the strength you need to move forward.

Sources:
Mayo Clinic, Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms

Definitive Signs You May Have Sustained a Brain Injury

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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