Friday, August 22, 2014

Closed Head Injuries Often go Unnoticed

Closed Head Injuries Often go Unnoticed 

As a Clearwater personal injury attorney, I am often retained to co-counsel cases with other law firms.  Further, our personal injury practice is often hired after an auto accident victim has parted ways with their former law firm.  Having personally reviewed thousands of personal injury files containing voluminous medical records, I can confidently state that head injuries taking the form of post concussion disorder or mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) are routinely missed or given little attention by both the treating physicians or the handling attorney.  

Insurance carriers perpetuate the ignorance paid to closed head injuries.  The insurance defense playbook is to retain experts who rely on bunk science to further their agenda of promoting common myths surrounding traumatic brain injury and concussions. For instance, Neurologists retained by insurance defense lawyers, will commonly assert that the injury victim did not suffer a genuine closed head injury as the individual did not strike their head or lose consciousness.  In fact, the single biggest myth in the context of brain injury is the victim must lose consciousness or strike their head.  More often than not, a victim of MTBI will not loss consciousness.  Further, acceleration deceleration events in which the head jerks rapidly forward and then backwards following a collision can result in significant injury to the brain.  When the head is thrown in a violent and rapid manner the diffuse axonal fibers can stretch, twist and even tear.  

It is well documented in peer reviewed medical literature that the brain will bounce off the skull and hit the other side during an acceleration deceleration mechanism of injury event. When the injury occurs to the opposite side, this is known as a countercoup injury.  A coup injury is at the site of the impact such as when an individual actually strikes their head.  

Please note that the human brain mimics the consistency of pudding.  The brain can continue moving within the skull after the head stops movement.  As a result, this can cause a disruption within the grey area of the brain wherein a network of nerve cells communicate with fellow nerve cells through fibers known as axons.  An injury or damage of the axonal fibers will result in impairment of the brain's 'executive functions.'  Executive function is structured thinking that involves such processes as planning, organization, analysis and problem solving.  

The myth that one must strike his/her head to suffer an injury to the brain leads many healthcare professionals to ignore possible signs of a head injury and focus on the more readily identifiable general orthopedic injuries.    

Another myth that leads to healthcare professionals overlooking a potential brain injury is a negative diagnostic test such as an MRI of the brain, PET scan or SPECT scan.  Keep in mind that the brain can be injured as manifested through clinical presentation yet the diagnostic tests may come back negative.  The treatment of traumatic brain injuries is an ever evolving fluid field of medicine.  We still have much to learn about the human brain.  However, if your client manifests with signs of a traumatic brain injury, a full workup with a Neurologist is strongly recommended.   Hallmark signs of a brain injury include inability to focus or concentrate, irritability, pronounced change in personality, loss of memory, sudden lack of organizational skills among others.  

For more information on the subject of traumatic brain injury, visit our Dolman Law Group website today.  

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900