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A recent study found that concussions in adolescents can increase the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) later in life. The risk increased substantially if the individual had suffered multiple head injuries as an adolescent.

What Causes MS?

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that “disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.” Multiple sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process whereby the body’s immune system responds abnormally, targeting the central nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Within the central nervous system, the immune system attacks myelin, the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers, and the nerve fibers themselves. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue, which impacts and interrupts nerve impulses to and from the brain and spinal cord.

Continue Reading Study Finds Link Between Concussions in Adolescents and Risk of Multiple Sclerosis

A recent study evaluated the impact of financial compensation on late mortality after traumatic brain injury (TBI). The findings suggest that compensation may reduce late mortality risk.

To determine the impact of financial compensation on long-term mortality in adults with severe TBI, the outcomes of 2545 adults discharged from three post-acute inpatient rehabilitation services were analyzed. Compensation data were available for 1851 participants, with 826 receiving financial compensation. The study noted that yearly standardized mortality ratios were elevated above general population norms for six to ten years in both groups.

Continue Reading Impact of Financial Compensation on Late Mortality After TBI

A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health noted a significant decrease in recurrent concussions among high school athletes following the implementation of laws in many states relating to sports play.

As reported by Temple University Center for Public Health Law Research, these laws aim to reduce harm from brain injuries occurring during youth sports activities. They address such factors as removal from play following injury, requirements for return-to-play clearance after a concussion, and education of coaches, parents, and athletes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 300,000 youths suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) or concussions while playing sports each year. TBIs can cause serious health consequences in children, which may be short-term or lifelong.

In response to these injuries, all states have passed laws for the purpose of reducing brain injuries during youth sports play. Data is now available to analyze the possible impact of those laws on reducing brain injuries in children.

Continue Reading Fewer Recurrent Concussions Among School Athletes Following Implementation of State Laws

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause cognitive, behavioral, and physical limitations, and impact an individual’s ability to return to work, reintegrate into the community and live independently.

A new study will undertake a systematic review of the predictive nature of discharge settings following acute care of TBI patients. Researchers believe the results of this review will aid healthcare providers, and TBI patients and their families, in making informed discharge decisions to the next level of care.

Continue Reading Is the Discharge Destination for Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury Predictive of Recovery?

Data from a recent study show that the use of golf carts has caused significant injuries in children under the age of 17, including brain injuries. Golf carts are somewhat inaccurately named as their use goes far beyond the golf course.

Golf carts are used in many communities in addition to golf courses, including retirement communities, farms, and shore communities. In fact, while many golf cart-related injuries do occur on the golf course, up to 30 percent occur on public streets, yards, and farms. In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, golf carts are exempt from registration requirements. There are few regulations relating to them.

Study Shows Increasing Number of Golf Cart Injuries

Researchers evaluated approximately 100 children under age 17 treated in Pennsylvania trauma centers for injuries sustained in golf cart accidents over an 11-year period.

Twenty seven percent of the children injured in golf cart accidents suffered a concussion. The risk for concussion was found to be higher for children ages six to 11, compared with kids under six. Twenty five to 30 percent sustained intracranial injury and brain bleeding. One child died.

Continue Reading Should Children Be Driving Golf Carts?

A recent Opinion Page article in the New York Times discusses the implications of covert consciousness on patients’ rights. Covert consciousness is a state of consciousness that cannot be detected by bedside examination. The author pointedly asks: “If there is a legal obligation to educate the developing brain, should there not be a correlative responsibility to those whose brains are in a process of redevelopment and recovery?”

The author writes about a patient who was participating in a study of patients with severe brain injury who exhibited the ability to use her left eye to answer simple yes or no questions with an eye tracking device. The young woman had suffered a complex stroke while in college and had been thought to be in a permanently unconscious “vegetative state.” She was subsequently found to be in the “minimally conscious state,” capable of demonstrating intention, attention, and memory.

Continue Reading Civil Rights of Minimally Conscious Patients

While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has addressed protection from head injuries for flight attendants, according to a recent article, it has not addressed the impact of shrinking seat designs on the safety of passengers. A second article states that no seat in coach meets the FAA’s standards for the space required for flight attendant seat safety.

Graphic Sheds Light on Impact of Smaller Seats and Rows on Safety

Embedded in the regulations governing commercial airline safety is a graphic that may offer evidence that smaller seats and rows on airplanes may affect passengers’ safety. The DOT graphic shows the “head strike zone” for a seated flight attendant and is intended to offer guidance on seat design to reduce the risk of injury to flight attendants during takeoff and landing but apparently a similar analysis has not been undertaken as to passengers.

Continue Reading Airlines’ Shrinking Seat Space May Increase Likelihood of Head Injuries

Females experience concussions differently than males but there has been little research on the topic. Dr. Mayumi Prins, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center education program, is looking to change that. He notes that most research has focused on male concussion patients and therefore there is little information available as to the science as to why females may suffer more concussions and experience more prolonged symptoms.

Scientific research has shown that female and male brains differ in terms of activity patterns, anatomy, chemistry, and physiology. Concussions may affect females differently than males for a variety of reasons, including hormonal issues and differences in upper bodies – especially the way muscles in the neck react after collisions. Also, females may be more likely than males to disclose concussion-related symptoms such as headaches, diminished social interaction, and depression, according to Prins.

Continue Reading Women May Experience Concussion Symptoms Differently Than Men

A New York trial court recently denied defendants’ motion to compel plaintiff’s radiologist to produce Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) control group data.

In Siracusa v. City Ice Pavilion, LLC, the plaintiff was injured while participating in an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, held at a hockey rink owned and operated by the defendant. Plaintiff sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI), allegedly at the fault of the defendant. Plaintiff underwent an MRI-DTI which was analyzed by Dr. Michael Lipton. Dr. Lipton’s DTI analysis lead to the conclusion that the plaintiff has abnormally low FA levels, which is consistent with traumatic axonal injury, although also consistent with other non-traumatic causes.

Continue Reading New York Court Upholds Validity of DTI