2011 June 28th
When Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head on January 8, 2011, her future looked grim. But she got the best treatment available, and is doing quite well. In fact, according to an article on CronkiteNewsOnline.com:
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ attending physician called the Arizona congresswoman’s recovery “ideal” and “typical for those who have the ability and access to the right resources” to recuperate from a debilitating injury.
But not everyone has those resources, said Dr. Gerard Francisco during a congressional briefing in Washington on Thursday [June 23, 2011] to support rehabilitation in America’s health care system.
According to Giffords’ doctor, Giffords stayed 4 months in the hospital, but not everyone can stay that long because of insurance limitations…and that she was allowed 4 months in-patient treatment because she is a public figure. In most hospitals, an individual with Giffords’ type of injury would be sent home after less than a month as an in-patient.
“Many people now do not have the appreciation for how brain injury rehabilitation has to be done,” Francisco said. “Unfortunately, we have had to take a lot of shortcuts in the past decade, when patients stay for under a month.”
If there is any good to come from this tragic shooting, perhaps it might be the start of a national discussion and change in how health insurance deals with the rehabilitation of people with brain injuries.
To read the full article, click here: Giffords’ recovery praised by doctor, who tells Washington to support rehab
2011 June 27th
We have been writing a lot recently about the National Football League (NFL) and the steps they are taking to make sure that players and coaches take concussions seriously. Now, the U.S. Army is waging a similar campaign.
According to an article in Army Times, the Army is teaching soldiers that concussion–also known as mild traumatic brain injury–is a physical wound, not a behavioral issue. It has also launched a new campaign to reverse the “cultural attitude” against this common battlefield injury. (How common? Since 2000, soldiers have suffered more than 91,000 concussions.)
According to the article, this concussion awareness campaign has several features:
- Soldiers will be required to take an annual traumatic brain injury (TBI) awareness class, and a second class about how to assess and treat concussions.
- Concussions must be recorded and tracked.
- To remember the symptoms of concussion, soldiers are taught the acronym HEADS: H = Headache; E = Ear ringing; A = Amnesia or loss of consciousness; D = Double vision or Dizziness; S = “Something feels wrong.”
In a perfect world, our soldiers would not have to experience concussions (or any injury). But this is a step in the right direction–mild traumatic brain injury can be a serious injury, and it deserves respect, awareness, and treatment.
It’s the least we can do for our soldiers.
To read the full article in Army Times, click here: Army to soldiers: Take concussions seriously
For more information about the effects of concussions, feel free to visit the HensonFuerst website at http://www.lawmed.com/. If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.
2011 June 9th
Military personnel who have exposed to blasts often exhibit signs and symptoms of brain injury…and yet the results of MRI and CT scans appear normal. It has been puzzling for physicians.
Now, The New York Times reports that a highly sensitive type of magnetic resonance imaging is able to show evidence of subtle brain injuries, damage specific to blast injuries. The injuries are poorly understood, and sometimes produce lasting mental, physical and emotional problems.
“This sort of mild traumatic brain injury has been quite controversial,” said Dr. David L. Brody, an author of the new study and an assistant professor of neurology at Washington University in St. Louis. “Is it due to structural abnormalities in the brain, chemical dysregulation, psychological factors or all three? We show that at least in some there are structural abnormalities.”
The pattern of the damage differed from that found in head injuries not caused by blasts, and matched computer simulations predicting how explosions would affect the brain, Dr. Brody said. If the new findings hold up, he added, they may eventually influence the design of helmets to provide more protection against blasts.
The injuries were discovered with a special MRI technique called “diffusion tensor imaging.” It measures the movement of water in nerve fibers in the brain; abnormal water movement suggests injury to those delicate nerve fibers.
Katherine Helmick, deputy director for traumatic brain injury at the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, said the Defense Department was eager for information that would “help us understand what blast is doing to the brain, and help us get what we really want in diagnosing traumatic brain injury, which is objective markers.”
Victims also want the new technique to work. Veterans who experience blast trauma can be left with problems involving speech, memory, balance, and thinking…but without objective medical evidence of brain damage, they may not receive the treatment they need. They also may not be believed, and could end up with occupational and relationship difficulties.
The scans are still in development, but everyone hopes they will be found to be a useful tool. If diffusion tensor imaging is proved to be a reliable and valid diagnostic tool for blast injuries, the next step will be to prove its value for other types of subtle brain trauma–the kind caused by auto wrecks, blows to the head, falls, or other types of personal injury. We’re looking forward to having another way to help our brain injured clients get the medical and legal help they need.
To read an abstract of the original study, click here: Detection of Blast-Related Traumatic Brain Injury in U.S. Military Personnel
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Brain Injuries Are Seen in New Scans of Veterans