Posts Tagged ‘safety’

Brain Injuries, Adding Insult to Injury

It’s one of the tragedies of modern life that Keith Lamont Scott was not responsible for attracting attention to himself.  Nor were the police responsible for misunderstanding his intentions.

It takes all kinds to make a world, according to the old saying, and today – on any ordinary city street – an observer might be able to see anything from couples so in love they fall off the curb to a homeless derelict shuffling his or her way to a safe sleeping spot for the night.

In between these extremes are otherwise ordinary people who may have mental difficulties resulting from head injuries, fetal alcohol syndrome, mental or physical abuse, or simply an imbalance of brain chemicals.

What Happened

In Scott’s case, it was a TBI, or traumatic brain injury. For more general information on TBIs, please visit the Brain Injury Clubhouse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, people who incur TBIs are twice as likely to die from “unintentional injury”. This is because TBIs affect both thought and balance. People with TBIs can’t always think clearly, and this leads them into compromising situations. They also tend to lose their balance, which makes them appear to be drunk, or on drugs. In Scott’s case, his injuries were so severe he had to relearn how to walk.

TBIs contribute to about one-third of all injury deaths in the United States, and Scott was no exception. In fact, he was only one of 1.7 million people in 2015 to sustain a serious head injury. In Scott’s case, it was the result of a motorcycle accident.

His shooting, on September 20, was prompted by what police later described as disturbing, or threatening, behavior. By one report, he was rolling a marijuana cigarette and holding a gun.  The fact that he was African-American, and living in Charlotte, North Carolina, is – or should be –irrelevant. Scott’s wife disputes the report, notes that Scott was not only injured but on medication, and tended to slur his words, stagger, and behave erratically and impulsively. These are all hallmarks of a TBI and the medications given to help people living with one.

TBIs, the Worst of the Worst

The hardest part of having a TBI is trying to live in the “normal” world and act like nothing is wrong. Alzheimer’s and other dementia victims are pitied and given special consideration, but the victims of TBI are basically self-reporting. If they happen also to be black and living in a poor neighborhood, the likelihood is that they will not be believed, perhaps particularly by law enforcement.

A similar situation exists in the workplace. Most TBI victims go first to the ER, and then later to the doctor. But not all head injuries can be immediately assessed or evaluated. It may take months, in fact, to separate TBI-related effects from lack of education or opportunity, and other lifestyle situations impacting the way a person talks, acts and even dresses.

In fact, of the approximately three million TBI victims appearing in the ER each year, only 11 percent are hospitalized, and – thanks to the miracles of modern medicine – 7 percent fewer now die than a decade ago.

Who Are TBI’s Victims?

Most of the victims of traumatic brain injury are either young or old; that is, over 65. Most of the causes are falling, with accidental blunt trauma (being struck on the head) coming second, and motor vehicle crashes coming third. Most of the ER visits for head trauma were among children aged ) 0-4 years. Between the ages of 15 and 44, the most common causes of TBIs are motor vehicle accidents.

Three times as many men as women are afflicted with TBIs, and more likely to die from them simply because males are more active and aggressive.

The Legacy

“Not having an appropriate response in a stressful, chaotic event is certainly a potential effect of a TBI,” said Jeffrey Kutcher, director of the NBA’s concussion program and current owner of a sports neurology clinic in Detroit, Michigan.

According to Kutcher, who never personally treated Scott, the “zoning-out” that Scott’s friends described was likely a direct result of the TBI or the medication Scott was taking. Either way, it is sad that an innocent man died, but the only place to lay blame is on the failure of the human skull to protect against all injuries.

Preventing Brain Injuries During Summer Activities

summer safety

Summer is the quintessential season for heading outdoors, soaking up the sun and fresh air, and getting active. While children are typically more active than adults during the summer season, both children and adults are at risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury while engaging in a summer activity. Here are some tips for preventing a brain injury during your favorite summer activities:

Swimming & Water Sports

 

Summer wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach or pool and it’s a great way to cool off and relax at the peak of summer, but it’s also a potentially dangerous season for brain and head injuries. According to the most recent data available on brain or head injuries released from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 28,716 head injuries occurred in 2009 during a water sport (diving, scuba diving, surfing, swimming, water polo, water skiing, and water tubing. One of the best ways to avoid a head injury while participating in a water sport is to be careful and responsible about diving. Here are some tips to avoid an injury while diving:

 

  • Always enter the water feet first.
  • Never dive into the shallow end of a pool or before checking for objects beneath the water’s surface.
  • Avoid alcohol when you’re participating in any water sport.
  • Know how to avoid and get out of a rip current.

 

Experts also recommend that individuals wear a safety helmet when wakeboarding, kayaking, or when river rafting.

Bicycling, Skating, & Skateboarding

 

According to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine, safety helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88%. Both children and adults should wear a helmet when participating in any wheeled sports like bicycling, in-line/roller skating, scootering and skateboarding. Even the most skilled and experienced individuals are at risk for falling and hitting his or her head on or against a hard surface or be struck by a car.

 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that each year about 2% of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists and head/brain injuries were responsible for the majority of deaths. The best way to avoid a serious brain injury while riding a bicycle is to simply wear a bicycle helmet, regardless if you’re just riding around your neighborhood, on a trail free from motorists, or on the roadways. There are no federal laws in the U.S. requiring the use of bicycle helmets, but in 22 states, bicycle helmets are required for most individuals under the age of 16. Law or not, always encourage your child to wear a helmet and be a good (and safe) role model by wearing one yourself.

Motorcycles

 

Just like bicycling, motorcyclists are at risk of suffering head and brain injuries when involved in an accident. Currently, only 19 states require that motorcyclists wear a helmet, but all motorcyclists and their passengers should wear a helmet, law or not. Motorcyclists that wear a helmet have up to a 73% lower fatality rate than unhelmeted riders. Additionally, unhelmeted motorcyclists are over three times as likely to suffer a brain injury than those who were a helmet.

 

The Link Between Motorcycle Helmets and Traumatic Brain Injury

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.

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?