When it comes to sport and athlete safety, some of the most important changes occur far from the court, field, and gym. Every state’s legislative branch has great power in determining the laws that must be followed in order to maintain order and safety within sports. In early May 2016, the House of Representatives in Michigan proved that it understands its critical role in player safety by passing an important concussion amendment. Click here to read more »
Category Archive: Brain Injury News
What many considered impossible only ten years ago is now becoming commonplace: marijuana as a legally accepted medical and recreational drug. Though the use of recreational marijuana remains relatively controversial, more people are realizing that medical marijuana has the potential to alleviate conditions in a way that no pharmaceutical can. A man from Palm Harbor, Florida has now become the first Floridian to use medical marijuana to treat his traumatic brain injury, and everyone is taking notice. Click here to read more »
For many, the most difficult part about a brain injury is its unexpected nature. Short of football and rugby players who participate in a sport with understood risks, most people who suffer a brain injury never expect the injury to occur. Ryan Boyle, for example, was 9 years old when he was hit by a truck while riding his bike. Or Dylan Williams, who was struck by a car in a crosswalk and suffered a traumatic brain injury after his head punched a hole through the car’s windshield. Cars do cause many brain injuries, but so do unexpected falls and unfortunate violence. With every tragedy rises the success stories that victims can look to for hope. Ryan and Dylan prove the improbable success after brain injury.
If there’s one sector of American society undeniably at the center of brain health controversy, it’s professional football. More than 70 ex-football players have been diagnosed with progressive neurological diseases post-mortem, and countless others have suffered major head trauma that led to severe injury or forced retirement.
In fact, in May 2015 popular 49ers rookie linebacker Chris Borland unexpectedly retired due to his concerns about the long-term effects of repetitive head trauma. After discussing with family members, researchers, and former teammates, Borland explained that the link between football and neurodegenerative disease was simply too strong and frightening for him to feel comfortable continuing his career.
What is Neurodegenerative Disease?
This umbrella term encompasses a range of brain conditions that occur when neurons, the building blocks of the nervous system, become damaged or die. Neurons don’t reproduce or replace themselves, so damage is usually permanent and irreversible. Neurodegenerative diseases result in problems with movement and mental functioning like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.
Famed football players Mike Webster, Dave Duerson, and Ray Easterling were all diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), an awful progressive degenerative disease of the brain that causes memory loss, impulsive behavior, depression, and dementia. Two of those players committed suicide after diagnosis.
Football’s Future with Brain Injury
Despite so many tragedies, concussion protocols and brain injury prevention still aren’t working perfectly in the NFL. The renowned football organization stated recently that it is considering whether to impose discipline for protocol failures in the future, even holding a mandatory teleconference with every team’s trainer and doctor to review the league’s concussion protocols. As of 2015, a certified athletic trainer can stop a game if he or she witnesses a player with a potential concussion.
While these steps can’t save the men whose lives have already crumbled due to brain injury, they are positive steps in the direction of prevention and future safety. The gravity of brain injury for these men cannot be ignored.
NeuroInternational welcomes Scott Wolfe, Nurse Case Manager and Tammy Boyd, Regional Director of Business Development, to our west coast team (Sarasota / Tampa). Scott and Tammy have previous experience working with traumatic brain injury survivors, families, and payor sources, and will be great assets to our growing team.
If you need to contact Tammy or Scott, you can phone them by calling any of our locations or simply by stopping by or sending a letter to: 4004 Fruitville Rd, Sarasota, FL 34232.
Fax contact is: 866-821-8885
A traumatic brain injury can happen to anyone at any time. Within less than a second, one’s life as known prior to that moment in time is forever changed as is everyone in that individual’s family. When a traumatic brain injury occurs, it is clear that there is an injury and medical intervention is deemed necessary and appropriate. A car accident, a fall from a ladder or roof, or some other type of blow to the head has taken place making known the evidence of a serious incident. A hospital is the only place anyone would consider the injured individual would be treated.
As shared in previous writings, the symptoms of mild brain injury or concussion may not be visible for days, weeks, and sometimes months. Mild brain injury can take some time to detect something is wrong, typically when the individual experiences a decline in a number of areas that may be masked, through no fault of the individual. It can take time for changes in the individual to appear and for deficits to be made apparent to family members, friends, and co-workers. When something is detected, families often don’t know what to do. Unless the individual is having severe behavioral issues of anger or aggression, which never occurred prior to the accident, an admission to a hospital would be deemed not medically necessary. Hospitals typically refer individuals to consult with a physician. If there is no outside professional involved with the individual from the time the injury or accident occurred, families may flounder for some time trying to find the right professional to help.
We, the public, are bombarded with commercials warning us not to speak with the adjuster if we are injured in an accident, yet it is through an adjuster and/or nurse case manager in cases of workers’ compensation or auto accidents that the adjuster and/or nurse case manager would intervene and assist expediently.
The reason a hospital is not appropriate to diagnose or treat a mild or questionable brain injury is that there is no acute issue according to admission standards and protocols. Testing and observation to determine a diagnosis of mild brain injury is not done in a hospital. Rather, individuals diagnosed with questionable concussion or mild brain injury can undergo evaluation in a specialized residential post-acute neurorehabilitation program. When admitted to such a program, cognitive and behavioral functioning, as well as physical functioning, is not only evaluated through formal testing but through observation in normal settings, multiple environments, where individual complete various normal daily tasks, where functioning is observed.
Minimally, an individual should undergo a neuropsychological evaluation by a board certified neuropsychologist if a concussion or mild brain injury is suspected. Unfortunately, the time lapse between suspected diagnosis of mild brain injury or concussion and seeing the neuropsychologist has its own set of problems for the individual.
To the layperson, a Traumatic Brain Injury is a brain injury, but to the person with Mild Brain Injury as a diagnosis it can be a curse that remains forever and the person with the injury may never know what’s wrong.
“Fall” and “car accident” are the most common causes of brain injury in the country. These causes of injury are also common work-related injuries. However, workers’ compensation carriers can have a very difficult time understanding how a slip-and-fall could cause cognitive and behavioral deficits in an individual who is reported to have had no injury at all following release from a hospital or a walk-in clinic. The severity of reported behaviors resulting from a mild brain injury can include aggression and anger as well as substance abuse where the person had none of these behaviors prior to the injury or accident and never used illegal substances.
Imagine if you were to slip and fall on a wet floor, through no fault of your own, in front of co-workers. You’re not sure what happened or why you’re lying on your back for a few seconds, but as soon as you realize you fell, embarrassment is often the first thing you feel. Your co-workers have immediate concern but you quickly laugh and tell them you’re okay. Even if you have some discomfort, you get up and continue on your way, hoping everyone will forget that you looked silly when you fell. No one even thinks you should go to the emergency room. It never crosses your mind.
That night when you get home you’re not sure if you pulled something in your leg when you fell but it hurts. Maybe it’s just a strain. Over the next few days you notice a little soreness overall but you know it’s nothing serious. Someone tells you at work that you have been writing the word Michigan instead of the word Florida and that they’ve answered your same question twice regarding lunch. The soreness is gone in a few days but over the following weeks you feel increasingly “off” and can’t really describe the feeling. You notice you’ve been unusually agitated and angry and what’s with those headaches. Your co-workers seem to be very picky which is aggravating you, and your boss has corrected your work several times. Your spouse is getting on your nerves much more than usual too. The “fuzzy” feeling in your head is increasing but you don’t want to tell anyone as they will think you’re going crazy and losing it. Maybe that is what’s happening but who do you talk with to find out?
These are some of the signs and symptoms of a mild brain injury which may not be detected or diagnosed for months or more. Over time the symptoms can increase mildly or significantly and the person decompensates, can lose his or her job, and friends may fall away due to the personality change that can take place. Diagnostic testing, including CT scans and MRI’s, cannot always detect when a Mild Brain Injury has occurred. This is one of the reasons the diagnosis of Mild Brain Injury has been so controversial for many years. A neuropsychological evaluation remains the best and most accurate method of testing individuals to determine their cognitive and behavioral status as well as observing and continuously evaluating and individual thought to have a Mild Brain Injury.
In some cases, individuals are referred to specialized residential post-acute neurological programs where professionals with expertise in mild to severe brain injury provide a comprehensive evaluation covering all areas of function over an extended period of time, typically up to one month. Over a consistent period of time, these experts can observe, interact, and continuously evaluate individuals thought to have cognitive and/or behavioral deficits in normal everyday environments doing a variety of activities. Combined with cognitive testing, and a behavioral analysis, a definitive diagnosis is possible. This same process of evaluation holds true when determining an individual does not have a Mild Brain Injury and is suffering from some other diagnosis or cause of symptoms.
For the individual suffering a Mild Brain Injury, learning there is a diagnosis and that there are treatment and rehabilitation options available provides hope and relief.