Traumatic Brain Injury Causes Progressive Damage
November 30th, 2010
The initial trauma that causes brain injury is just the beginning of the health nightmare.
New research published in the November issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine used sophisticated imaging techniques to track how brain structures change over time after a traumatic brain injury (TBI). While the results of the research will help scientists and physicians develop better ways to treat people after brain trauma, the news was disheartening for anyone who has suffered TBI.
We know that TBI is a major cause of disability for children and young adults, often resulting in memory and attention problems, mood and behavioral issues, epilepsy, and difficulties in the areas of learning and decision making. According to a press release by SNM, an organization devoted to raising public awareness about the benefits of medical and molecular imaging, the researchers found that the brain changes physically and functionally for about 3 to 6 months after the initial injury. Specifically:
Widespread decreases in brain functioning were seen in specific brain regions, many of which are remote from the site of direct trauma and unaccompanied by signs of injury on the MRI. The hippocampus, a brain structure critical to memory and emotion, is the key area of these changes. This may have implications for the pathophysiology of some of the long-term neurological and psychiatric morbidity, seen following TBI, even when abnormalities are not obvious on structural MRI.
Basically, this means that after a brain injury, the part of the brain most involved with memory and emotion stops working as well as before the injury…even if that part of the brain was not injured in the original trauma.
Overall, the scientists hope that the results of this research can help in the development of new treatments that might be able to halt the progressive degradation of brain function. For the rest of us, the lesson is about the importance of medical treatment—just because you walk away from a head injury, it doesn’t mean that your brain hasn’t suffered damage. In fact, the full extent of your injury may not be known for months. Seek medical attention immediately after any head trauma that is more than a minor bump. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
The abstract and citation for the study mentioned above is available here: Journal of Nuclear Medicine
To read more about traumatic brain injury, or to learn about your legal options after personal injury, visit the HensonFuerst website. If you have questions, we have answers.
Will GOP Slash OSHA Funding
November 30th, 2010
There is growing speculation that a Republican controlled House of Representatives will cut funding to OSHA. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is responsible for enforcing standards that create safe working conditions for employees. There is growing concern, that Republicans backed by the Chamber of Commerce and big business will cut OSHA’s already paltry budget. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/art-levine/will-gop-victory-gut-osha_b_776298.html
Eurhythmics Cuts Risk of Falls By More Than Half
November 29th, 2010
If you’re old enough to remember Eurhythmics as the British New Wave duo of Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart (signature song: “Sweet Dreams [Are Made of This]“), then this is an article you may find particularly useful. For your parents, anyway.
A new scientific study found that senior citizens could reduce their risk of falls by taking classes in eurhythimics, a program of physical movements set to musical rhythms. The program was developed in the early 20th century by composer Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, and is now widely used in the fields of music, theater, dance, and physical therapy. After just 6 months of a weekly one-hour eurhythmics classes, participants reduced the risk of falls by 54 percent.
That’s an amazing result. Compare it the effects of Tai Chi for the reduction of falls: Tai Chi has been shown to be a great way to reduce falls, but Tai Chi only reduced falls by 37 percent. Amazing. And people seem to really like it–about 80 percent of study participants kept up with the classes. It’s hard to get 80 percent of any group to do anything, let alone go to exercise class regularly.
In addition to reducing the risk of falls, people who took the eurhythmics classes also had a more regular gait, had better overall balance, and could multitask while walking–so, for example, they could walk and hold a conversation at the same time. (Although the scientists don’t actually say this, it means that the participants could finally walk and chew gum at the same time.)
How can you (or your parents) take advantage of this research? Well, chances are we’ll see a bunch of new eurhythmics classes in the future. But for now, we’ll have to make do with general guidelines for exercising to music. According to an article in The New York Times:
The program, developed by the early-20th-century Swiss composer Émile Jaques-Dalcroze, teaches movement in time to music, from Mozart minuets to jazz improvisations. Participants have to walk and turn around, stay in step with changing tempos, learn to shift their weight and balance, handle objects while walking, and make exaggerated upper-body movements while walking.
Simple enough to do: Hook up your iPod, put in the ear buds, step outside, and walk to a random assortment of musical beats. It’s more fun that exercising in a gym, and way more fun than recovering from bruises or broken bones from a fall.
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Unsteady on Your Feet? Try Moving to Music
The scientific article citation: A. Trombetti, M. Hars, et al. “Effect of Music-Based Multitask Training on Gait, Balance, and Fall Risk in Elderly People,” Archives of Internal Medicine. Published online November 22, 2010. (abstract page)
Parents, Coaches Worry About Concussion Risks
November 29th, 2010
There was a story on National Public Radio (NPR) today about the growing concern over concussion in youth sports. This is a topic that has been in the news (and in our own blogs) this entire year, and it shows no sign of going away. Thank heaven! The more voices that join the chorus of concern, the healthier our children will be now, and in the future.
According to the story, concussions are now the second most common injury in kids’ sports. And due to more sports opportunities and a greater emphasis on performance, the hits are not only more frequent, but harder than ever before. On the scientific side, we now know that concussion is not a simple, benign bump on the head. As described by NPR:
Concussions used to be described as a brain bruise, but doctors now like to say that it’s a problem with the brain’s function, a problem that can’t be detected by MRI or CT scan. When the brain suddenly slams to a stop, the brain’s neurons all fire at once. That surge of energy temporarily messes up the brain’s electrical and chemical signal system, making it hard to think straight.
After kids suffers a concussion, doctors recommend that they rest their brains as well as their bodies. They are sidelined from sports until cleared by a doctor, and they need to cut back on everything that requires complex thought including playing a musical instrument and even texting. Once their brains are healed, kids are asked to ease slowly back into their usual routine.
…some schools are trying to do a better job of monitoring student athletes by taking a page from the NFL’s playbook. Last year, Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., started assessing student athletes’ memory and reaction time with the online ImPACT test, the same test used in the NFL, to see how their brains work.
“If there’s a potential concussion and they retest, we look for abnormalities,” says Dave Kelley, the athletic director at Churchill. “If they perform poorly on memorization or don’t react as quickly, that may show signs of a brain injury.” Kelley has benched eight or nine students in the past 18 months whose second tests suggested a concussion. [from the NPR story]
These measures sometimes seem like overkill to parents and coaches who grew up in a time when athletes were encouraged to “walk off” the pain and disorientation of a concussion. But studies have shown that concussions—especially multiple concussions—greatly increase the risk of permanent brain damage. In the long run, concussions may even lead to premature dementia and even death.
The brain injury attorneys of HensonFuerst believe that there’s no such thing as “too much” concern about kids’ concussions. A child has one brain to last a lifetime…how crazy is it to risk permanent injury for the sake of a game?
To read or listen to the NPR story, click here: NPR Concussion Story
To read our blogs about concussion and other brain injury topics, click here: HensonFuerst TBI blog
You can also read more about traumatic brain injury on our dedicated web page: HensonFuerst TBI website. If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.
Also, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a concussion awareness campaign called “Heads Up Youth Sports.” To see the Heads Up informational poster, click here: Heads Up Concussion Poster
Multiple Recalls by McNeil Consumer Healthcare
November 29th, 2010
The pharmaceutical company McNeil has not had a good year, and November marked multiple recalls by this manufacturing giant.
Earlier this month, McNeil recalled one product lot of ROLAIDS Extra Strength Softchews (cherry flavor). The affected lot number is 0053AG2, which is found on the back of the package. The reason: consumer complaint of an uncharacteristic consistency or texture, which is reported to be caused by crystallized sugar.
On November 15, McNeil announced the recall of Children’s BENADRYL Allergy FASTMELT tablets, and Junior Strength MOTRIN Caplets. This is an odd recall that sounds suspicious. According to the FDA recall notice:
This is a wholesale and retail level recall. No action is required by consumers or healthcare providers and consumers can continue to use the product. The recall was initiated after a review, conducted as part of McNeil’s Comprehensive Action Plan, revealed insufficiencies in the development of the manufacturing process. There is no indication that the recalled products do not meet quality standards, and this recall is not being undertaken on the basis of adverse events.
What the heck are “insufficiencies in the development of the manufacturing process”? And if the product is being recalled, why are consumers being urged to continue to use the product? This all sounds a little fishy, and it leaves one wondering what might be covered up in this recall notice, which says nothing to give consumers confidence in the products.
And now, the latest recall: three TYLENOL Cold Multi-Symptom liquid products. According to the recall notice:
McNeil Consumer Healthcare initiated the recall after an internal review revealed that information about the presence of alcohol from flavoring agents was noted as an inactive ingredient listed on the package, but not on the front panel of the product. Certain flavoring agents contribute small (< 1%) amounts of alcohol.
It sounds like someone needs to conduct a thorough review of the McNeil manufacturing process, from production to packaging. These multiple recalls do not engender confidence in the company. Let’s hope they get their act together before the spring allergy season!
To find out more about all McNeil product recalls, visit their special webpage: http://www.mcneilproductrecall.com/.
And on an overall safety note, if you notice that one of the medications you take does not look, smell, or taste the same as usual, file a complaint with the company. Many times, consumer calls are the only way a company will know that there may be a problem with the product.
OSHA Announces Plan
November 29th, 2010
OSHA will begin focusing on certain non-construction companies based on 2009 injury data. The purpose of this focused effort is to identify industries and companies with higher rates of injury and illness. These companies will be randomly selected for inspection. The goal is to prevent injury and provide safer conditions for workers. http://rillara.com/workplace-safety-hazards-osha-releases-site-inspection-plan/424426/
Big Hits, No Penalty, Lots of Brain Damage
November 24th, 2010
According to an article in The New York Times, the National Football League (NFL) is not sticking to their new policy of protecting players from concussion and head injury.
One player was tackled square in the face with the helmet of an onrushing opponent. Another, fighting for one last yard, took a polyurethane bash to the head. Still another player spent 10 minutes mostly motionless among dozens of praying players before medics carried him away on a stretcher after a helmet-to-helmet hit. [from The New York Times]
No flags were thrown for these controversial hits…all hits were deemed legal…and all of the hits probably caused traumatic brain injury to the players involved.
But the N.F.L.’s recent movement toward eliminating particularly dangerous tackles suggests that some of the collisions like those seen Sunday night could be forbidden as early as next season. Given how youth and high school football tend to follow the N.F.L.’s lead, the changes could affect more than just professionals.
Football is a violent sport, and players of all ages are encourage to “hit hard.” Any serious move toward protecting players’ brains would require pulling back from the level of violence, and it’s not clear that anyone is willing to do that. It’s a $9 billion business, and fans live for televised clashes. Still, research has shown that multiple concussions (also known as mild traumatic brain injury, or MTBI) can lead to neurologic dysfunction, early dementia, and even death.
We’ve seen the outcome of head trauma, and we firmly believe that no game…no sport…no job should encourage—tacitly or explicitly—the kinds of activities that regularly cause concussion or more serious brain injuries. The NFL created pretty posters about concussion and vowed to take a tougher stance on head-hits. Thus far, this has all been nothing but “wah-wah-wah” background noise that everyone is ignoring.
According to Dr. Thom Mayer, medical director for the players union:
“Anything that can be done to improve the safety of our players really should be done, short of stopping playing the game.”
We agree. Hey…what if there were a fine against the team owners every time a player got a concussion during the course of a game? Hitting the big guys in their wallets wouldn’t be as painful as a head-hit, but it might at least start a serious discussion of how to stop the injuries.
Just food for thought.
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Big Hits, No Flags
Some "Lead-Free" Pottery May Actually Contain Lead
November 19th, 2010
A vacation to Mexico would not be complete without a visit to an open-air market to purchase some of the hand-painted, gorgeous pottery. The colors and designs have become so popular that they are imported to be sold in major department stores and boutique shops, as well. (The fish platter shown in the photo was purchased by one of our associates on a vacation to Ixtapa, Mexico.)
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it has confirmed reports from local and state agencies that traditional ceramic pottery made by several manufacturers in Mexico—and labeled “lead free”—in fact contains lead.
It’s not that the manufacturers are lying. It’s more about hidden sources of lead in the process. Pottery made with earthenware must undergo glazing, a process in which a thin, glass-like coating is applied and fused onto the surface of the clay. This seals the pottery’s pores, allowing it to hold food or liquid. The glaze fuses to the pottery when it is fired in a kiln, a special oven used to bake clay.
“In the past, potters have usually used lead glazes,” says Michael Kashtock, Ph.D., and FDA consumer safety officer and food scientist. “Today, many of the potters in Mexico have switched to non-lead glazes. However, they may be using old kilns that were once used for firing lead-containing glazes.”
Kashtock says that while these potters believe they are making a lead-free product, the kilns they are using may be contaminated with lead residues from prior firings of lead glazed pottery. “‘Lead-free’ glaze can then become contaminated during the firing,” he says.
Why You Should Care
This is important because lead from pottery can leach into foods that touch it…if that food is eaten, it gets into the body where it can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Lead is toxic. In large amounts, it can affect brain development in children, potentially leading to lower IQ. In adults, too much lead can cause many other serious problems, including brain and nervous system damage, high blood pressure, kidney problems, impotency, digestive problems, and anemia.
What to Look For in Your Pottery
If you own earthenware pottery, especially if it was made in Mexico, you’ll want to avoid using it for food…or take extra steps to assure it is safe. Earthenware pottery has a distinctive orange clay color (see attached photo, and look at the reverse side of the fish platter). You should be most concerned if you purchased the pottery from a flea market or street vendor…if it appears handmade…if it is more than 20 years old…if it is damaged or worn.
According to the FDA, if you have pottery that fits these descriptions or are concerned about pieces you own, you can:
- Look for a warning label on the pottery. If the pottery was made for use only as a decorative item, it may have a warning (such as “Not for Food Use—May Poison Food”) stamped onto the bottom.
- Test the pottery. Lead-testing kits, which are sold in hardware stores and online, come with swabs and instructions. They do not damage the pottery. With most, the swab will change colors if lead leaches onto the swab. If a test reveals a positive result for leachable lead, don’t use the pottery for cooking, serving, or storing food or drinks.
- If you are unable to test the pottery or otherwise determine that it is not from a reliable manufacturer, don’t use it for cooking, serving, or storing food or drinks.
- Be aware that no amount of washing, boiling, or other process can remove lead from pottery.
It’s also important to know that the pottery is only dangerous if you use it for serving or eating food. Like the fish platter from Ixtapa, these pieces can still make beautiful decorations in your home.
To read the full FDA Consumer Health Information update, click here: Some “Lead-Free” Pottery Can Still Taint Food
“No Need 2 Speed” in North Carolina
November 18th, 2010
The Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol kicked of their No Need 2 Speed campaign designed to reduce speeding on our highways. The two-week campaign, which was announced on Monday, runs from November 15 through the end of Thanksgiving weekend on November 28.
“North Carolina law enforcement will be cracking down on speeders who recklessly endanger our citizens,” said GHSP director David Weinstein. “We lost 472 people last year due to speed-related crashes. I urge drivers to slow down and obey the speed limit.”
The April 2010 campaign cited more than 15,000 motorists across the state for speeding. How are we doing so far? Not great. In just two hours yesterday, on just one road in Wake County, 149 speeding citations were written. In addition, five motorists were caught driving without a license or with a revoked license, and one fugitive was nabbed. This all happened on one small stretch of I-40.
It is amazing that people drive like this even after they have been warned about a speeding crackdown. We drive the highways in eastern North Carolina everyday, and they are beginning to resemble a racetrack. Several years ago, there was a study done by a traffic specialist to determine how much time is actually saved by speeding. It seems obvious that driving faster will get us where we’re going more quickly, but this scientist checked to see if it was true. Compared with people who drove in the right lane and stayed at the speed limit, people who raced 10+ mph over the speed limit, weaving in and out of slower traffic saved themselves only 5 minutes for each hour they drove.
The lesson was that speeding was perceived to be a greater advantage than it actually was. In addition, there are costs associated with speeding: more frequent trips to the gas pumps, speeding tickets, and eventually higher insurance premiums. And, of course, speed is a common risk factor for car wrecks.
So, slow down these next 10 days to avoid the “No Need 2 Speed” radar… and then consider slowing down on the roads everyday. Is saving a mere 5 minutes really worth the stress, cost, and risk of speeding?
Man dead after Raleigh auto accident
November 18th, 2010
November 18, 2010
A man was killed in a Raleigh auto accident, WTVD reports.
The man was driving under the influence in the Raleigh auto accident and was involved in a bar fight before the Raleigh auto accident, police say.
The Raleigh auto accident involved another car with three people in it. One person died in the other vehicle, and two were injured in the man’s car involved in the Raleigh auto accident.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a Raleigh auto accident, the Raleigh auto accident lawyers at Henson Fuerst Attorneys can help.