Engineers Develop Portable Test for Concussion
April 29th, 2011
Radar system and Georgia Tech engineers (from Wired)
This is not generally available yet, but engineers at Georgia Tech may have developed a simple way to diagnose concussion. If tests are as conclusive as expected, we may soon be seeing these devices on football fields and many other athletic events.
The test goes like this: The person who received a head injury walks 20 feet away from a radar system (while reciting the months of the year backwards), then turns around and walks back. According to an article on Wired.com:
But why radar over other cognitive testing? The 10.5-gigahertz radar (similar to what might be used by a police officer or baseball scout) can measure certain properties relating to a person’s walking gait, like how their arms are swinging, how fast their legs move and the way their head bobs. Compare that to a database of previously recorded info related to normal walking motions, and you’ve got a quick and reliable measure of whether it’s neurologically safe for someone to go back in the game.
With the hits the NFL has been taking recently regarding its policy and response to players’ concussions, this system could be just the thing to save football’s reputation.
To read the full article, click here: Wired.com
Riverdale’s Nursing Home “Hell”
April 29th, 2011
Una Roskind (from The Riverdale Press)
Earlier this week, we posted a blog about nursing home horror stories from across the country. Turns out we missed a doozy. This story is particularly detailed because the nursing home resident was 79-year-old Una Roskind, who entered Schervier Nursing Care Center (Riverdale, NY) as she recovered from a broken back. Because Ms. Roskind does not have dementia, she was able to remember and articulate the level of neglect and abusive treatment she and other residents suffered. Her story was printed in The Riverdale Press.
Some of Ms. Roskind’s treatment included:
- Being kept hostage in a room with 15 other patients and a blaring TV–the exit was deliberately blocked with other patients in wheelchairs.
- Being forced to sleep in a bed not designed for people with her type of back injury.
- Waiting several hours to have someone take her to the bathroom after repeatedly buzzing for help.
- Missing meals because staff forgot that she was waiting for help.
And this was all in the course of less than 24 hours.
When Ms. Roskind’s son complained of the treatment his mother was receiving, the staff yelled at him and told him to mind his own business. That led him to file a report with the New York State Department of Health.
“[On] the third floor you were treated like dirt, the first floor overall you were much better, you had a lot of problems, getting to the bathroom, getting someone to help you, whatnot, but you were never put down. You never felt like dirt … they’re supposed to be there to help you and nobody’s there,” [Ms. Roskind] said.
“It’s a horrible thing to experience. You feel like you dropped down into hell,” she said.
As a final insult, the facility tried to sabotage the family’s attempt to have Ms. Roskind accepted and transferred to another facility, presumably to avoid losing her as a paying resident. The sabotage failed, and Ms. Roskind is at that new facility, receiving therapy and healing.
“To watch this happen, its horrible, to see all these patients mistreated,” she said, noting that her reason for going public was to speak for those who cannot.
According to the article, the facility is currently being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office.
To read the full story in The Riverdale Press, click here: Woman speaks out
This is not an isolated story…it’s just a rare opportunity to hear from someone whose mental faculties are intact enough to provide a detailed accounting. If you know someone in a nursing home who reports abuse or neglect and you would like to know your legal options, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-4-LAWMED, or visit our website at http://www.lawmed.com/.
If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.
Teen killed, others injured in North Carolina auto accident
April 27th, 2011
April 28, 2011
A teen was killed and two others were injured in a North Carolina auto accident.
The vehicle they were traveling in during the North Carolina auto accident struck a tree after the driver overcorrected and crossed the center line of the road, according to wcnc.com.
Law enforcement officials believe speed may have been a factor, and alcohol is not suspected to have played a role in the North Carolina auto accident.
What do you think distracts young drivers the most while they’re behind the wheel? Do you think young drivers are more likely to speed?
If you or someone you know has been involved in a North Carolina auto accident, the North Carolina auto accident layers at HensonFuerst can help.
Flying the Sickly Skies
April 26th, 2011
There are many people who travel as part of their job. They travel a lot. The majority of that traveling is done on airplanes. Everyone has heard that close quarters on an airplane can increase the chances of getting sick. While most people focus on the re-circulated air in the plane, it is actually surface contact with seats, tray tables, and overhead storage bins that are breeding grounds for viruses. Some suggest wiping down all of these surfaces before beginning your trip . . .paranoid, or smart? You decide. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/travel/2014841080_webflightgerms24.html
Cheerleaders Are Athletes, Part One
April 26th, 2011
What do you call an activity requires strength, stamina, flexibility, agility, planning, and coordination with team members? What if the participants were required to train with weight-training and aerobic exercises? And what if that activity was performed in gymnasiums, in stadiums, and on outdoor fields? And what if teams competed regionally and nationally?
That sure sounds like a sport to me. What would you call it?
Well, officially, cheer is not a sport. (And by the way, advocates now prefer the term “cheer” to “cheerleading,” mainly because the nature of the activity has changed almost to the point of being unrecognizable since the early days of pom-poms and calls of S-U-C-C-E-S-S.) But in July 2010, U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill ruled that cheer is not a sport because it is “too underdeveloped and disorganized.” I’m not sure what he looked at to make his decision, but cheer is one of the most organized activities around–there are cheer squads in nearly every middle school, high school, and college…participants are taught and coached in standard moves…and the competition circuit is big business.
Why definitions are important
Whether cheer is defined as a sport or as merely an athletic activity has repercussions that go beyond ego. Sometimes it’s a question of available funding from colleges or sponsors, and sometimes it’s about reputation and respect–cheerleaders are admired, but rarely honored for their combination of brains and athleticism.
But even more important is how defining cheer as a sport would affect safety of the participants. A true sport requires coaches to have a certain level of training and certification; a “sport” puts limits on the risks required of the participants; and a “sport” makes training and safety an integral part of practice and performance. Unfortunately, in most schools, cheering lacks safety, limits, and trained coaches. That’s why cheer accounts for more than 65% of of all high school catastrophic injuries, and more than 70% of all collegiate catastrophic injuries. (For the record, “catastrophic injuries” are life changing events, including traumatic brain injury, paralysis, and death.) Less severe injuries are also common–each year, this sport sends more than 25,000 female students to hospital emergency rooms.
A Cheer Advocate Speaks Out
In June 2010, we posted a blog that listed guidelines to help prevent cheer injuries, as recommended by Frederick O. Mueller, Ph.D., Director of the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). It’s a long list, so we won’t repeat it now, but you can read the full blog here: When Is a Sport Not a Sport?
After it was posted, we heard from one of the all-time great cheer coaches, Rusty McKinley. In his career, McKinley was Spirit Director at the University of Southern Mississippi, followed by eight years as Cheer Advisor/Coach at the University of Memphis. He authored two books: The Complete Partner Stunt Book and NCA Pyramids. Currently, he is a nationally known and respected expert in the area of cheer safety. (I know he’s going to be embarrassed that I put it that way.) He was even one of the featured interviews in the cheer safety episode of the Emmy-nominated television show Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (season 8, episode 1: Cheerleading).
McKinley reports that the state of cheer safety is worse than most people think. He recently obtained the AACCA Certification–a safety certification from the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators. Sounds impressive, right? As McKinley said:
The entire course, 2.5 hours, is dedicated to walking you through the AACCA Manual and highlighting the areas that will be on the Open Book test that follows. No “hands on” experiences are required or tested in any fashion. The periodic update requires 20 minutes online, again without hands on training or demonstrations.
McKinley has given us a wealth of information about the state of cheer safety, as well as some solid suggestions for how parents, schools, coaches and all the rest of us can help keep these athletes safe from traumatic brain injury and other catastrophes.
This is the first of a 3-part series we’re writing on cheer safety. Part 2 will be posted May 2, 2011 and Part 3 will be posted on May 9, 2011.
Meanwhile, if you have questions about cheer safety, please send them to our researcher, email@example.com. We’ll do our best to answer them online.
If someone you know has a cheer injury…
To report a cheerleading injury to make statistical reporting more accurate, go to www.cheerinjuryreport.com, sponsored by the National Cheer Safety Foundation. For more information about traumatic brain injury, or to request a legal consultation for a cheer injury, visit our dedicated web page.
If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.
More Nursing Home Tragedies
April 26th, 2011
In January, we wrote about some disturbing stories of nursing home abuse from around the country. Here is the next installment (click the titles to read the full story):
1. Seattle ‘caregiver’ raided 93-7ear-old’s life savings (from Seattle PI)
This could be the plot of a movie drama, or maybe a horror story: A caregiver took control of the life of a 93-year-old man, separating him from his children and stealing $300,000 from his life savings. The caregiver, 52-year-old Samantha Pierce insinuated herself into every aspect of the retiree’s life. She wrote checks for more than $125,000 to her children, got the title to his luxury car, and was in the process of purchasing a $2 million home.
Pierce entered his life as a caregiver for his dying wife—an unlicensed caregiver, mind you. She was given room and board, use of a car, and $1,000.00 per month.
Pierce came to manage the man’s finances and act as a companion to him, [Seattle Police Detective Elizabeth Litalien] told the court. The couple’s children expressed concerns that Pierce was ingratiating herself with their father while failing to care for their mother.
Pierce also appeared to over-medicate the elderly retiree (whose name was not released). Once he was no longer under Pierce’s controlling thumb—after she was arrested—his medication was reduced, and he became more alert, focused and social. According to police detective Litalien, quoted in the Seattle PI:
“He is understandably saddened by Pierce’s betrayal of trust.”
Pierce has been charged with first-degree theft and violation of a vulnerable adult protection order. She is not currently jailed.
2. Dental neglect at nursing homes (from the Lexington Herald-Leader)
There are many, many ways an elderly person can suffer in a poorly run nursing home, but one that is not often discussed is neglect of dental needs. An article in the Lexington Herald-Leader revealed the scope of the problem.
Anyone who has ever had a toothache knows that there is no such thing as “minor” dental pain. For nursing home residents, mouth problems are compounded. Some diseases can be affected by mouth health: For example, residents with Alzheimer’s disease are likely to neglect tooth care, those with diabetes are prone to blood infections, and poor nutrition due to difficulty chewing can lead to a weakened immune system. University of Kentucky associate professor Dr. Robert Henry found that nearly 80% of nursing home residents had oral health that could be classified only as “poor” or “fair.”
And then there are the more extreme cases. For example, a Kentucky nursing home resident went months without proper dental care because the facility claimed there was no record that he had dentures. He lived in the home six months before a dentist was called in.
But the patient’s face had been swollen for nine days before a dentist was summoned and discovered that the dentures had become “corroded.” As a result, the patient was at risk for a blood infection.
This neglect, which can only be described as inhuman, apparently was not an isolated incident at Arbor Place of Clinton. Following numerous other citations, the nursing home lost its federal funding and its patients are being moved.
3. Nursing home patient dies of overdose of unprescribed morphine (Chicago Sun-Times)
Last year, WRAL.com reported the story of a nurse at Britthaven of Chapel Hill nursing home charged with giving unprescribed morphine to patients. Six of the patients were hospitalized, and one—an 84-year-old woman—died with high levels of morphine in her blood.
Now, it feels like a case of déjà vu. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that an 84-year-old nursing home resident died of a morphine overdose, even though the pain-killer had not been prescribed to him.
Two people have been charged with crimes related to the Chicago case: Nurse Marty Himebaugh was alleged to have given excessive doses of morphine to patients, and former nursing home director Penny Whitlock was accused of allowing Himebaugh to administer the morphine.
According to the article, several other nurses had warned the administrator of Himebaugh’s illegal dosing, but took no action. However, Whitlock did give Himebaugh a descriptive nickname: Angel of Death. Himebaugh was charged with criminal neglect and improperly dispensing morphine, and Whitlock was charged with criminal neglect and obstruction of justice.
4. Nursing home didn’t tell family of mother’s death (Chicago Sun-Times)
We’ve heard of cases of nursing home neglect, but it usually concerns residents who are alive. This is a sad case of neglect after death.
Lovera Staples died in the Ridgeview Nursing Home in May 2010. Her family didn’t learn of her death until mid-September, more than four months later. And it wasn’t because of any official notification—Lovera’s daughter called to wish her mom a happy birthday and was told that no one named Lovera Staples lived at the facility.
Lover’s body lay in the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office since May.
To make matters worse, while the family was making the overdue funeral arrangements, nursing home officials removed the body from the morgue and buried her without the family’s consent.
At HensonFuerst, we hear stories of nursing home abuse and neglect everyday. We believe that nursing home residents should receive better care than they do–these are our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Every episode of human indignity diminishes us all. HensonFuerst fights to make sure nursing homes are held accountable for the care they give, and we fight for the basic human rights of residents.
If you believe someone you know is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, please feel free to call the lawyers of HensonFuerst. We’re available 24/7. Just call 1-800-4LAWMED, or visit our website at http://www.lawmed.com/. We’ll work to get your loved one the care he or she deserves.
If you have a problem, HensonFuerst has a solution.
Preventing a Rotator Cuff Tear
April 25th, 2011
The shoulder is one of the most commonly injured joints. The reason is that the shoulder has more range of motion than any other joint. However, that also means that it is much easier to injure. There are steps that can be taken to strengthen the often neglected tendons, muscles and other connective tissue that comprise the rotator cuff. The following article provides an excellent description of shoulder injuries and how to prevent and rehabilitate from them. http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/sclark71.htm
Exciting Changes to Nursing Homes Compare Website
April 23rd, 2011
For years we’ve been telling you about the Nursing Home Compare 5-star ratings posted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The ratings help consumers evaluate the quality and safety of nursing homes across the country.
Today, CMS has made three changes to Nursing Home Compare:
- Information about how consumers can file complaints about nursing homes with State Survey Agencies. There will be links directly to state complaint websites, easy access to phone numbers and fax numbers, and a standardized complaint form.
- More visible consumer rights section, including what courses of action consumers can take if they feel their rights have been violated. There will also be information about how to choose a nursing home, and about the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.
- A “freeze” in the quality measure data and the 5-star quality measure ratings on the website for six months. Although ratings are usually updated every quarter, this freeze will allow for transition to new and improved software. The freeze will start in October 2011, and new data will be available again in early 2012.
In July 2011, there will be an additional change: The website will display information for each nursing home about the number of substantiated complaints received, and about the number of enforcement actions (specifically Civil Money Penalties and Denials of Payment for New Admissions) that have been levied
To visit the Nursing Home Compare website, click here: Nursing Home Compare
News About Old Drugs
April 21st, 2011
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has been busy!
Earlier this month, we wrote about the FDA’s new search engine to find information about drug and food product recalls (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/). Now, they are also giving us information about two other medication-related topics: expiration dates and drug disposal.
Medication Expiration Dates
The other day, I was hunting in the bathroom closet for medication to treat my spring allergies. When I found the package, I was surprised to discover that it had an expiration date of 2008. It was the middle of the night, and I was tempted to take a dose and buy a fresh supply the next day, but I did the right thing and threw the remaining pills away.
Expiration dates are not a ploy by pharmaceutical companies to keep you buying more product. Drugs are chemicals, and over time, the chemical composition of the medication can actually change. The drug may be weaker than expected, or in some cases, such as with tetracycline, the drug may become toxic. To make sure that the drug in your medicine cabinet is safe and effective, always check the expiration date before using.
Regardless of the expiration date, always throw away pills that have become discolored, powdery, or smell funny. Don’t use creams if they are hardened or cracked. And liquids shouldn’t be used if they look like they have an oily film on top, or if they are discolored or clouded.
To watch the FDA’s video about this topic, click here: Expiration Dates Matter
If you no longer need a drug, or if the expiration date has passed, you’ll need to find a safe way to get rid of it. Here are some guidelines offered by the FDA:
- Contact your city or county government’s household trash and recycling service to see if there is a medicine take-back program in your community. There are special rules about which medicines can be taken back, so ask for guidelines.
- Many pharmacies are also beginning to provide drug disposal programs, so talk with your pharmacist to see if he or she knows of other medicine disposal programs in your area.
- If no medicine take-back program is available in your area, check the FDA’s drug disposal page (available here: Disposal of Unused Medications) to find the list of medications that should be flushed, and not thrown in the garbage. These medications could be fatal if take by someone to whom it was not prescribed. The FDA says that:
When a medicine take-back program isn’t available, FDA believes that any potential risk to people and the environment from flushing this small, select list of medicines is outweighed by the real possibility of life-threatening risks from accidental ingestion of these medicines.
- If the medicine is NOT on the “flush-only list,” then follow these instructions for disposing of the medication:
- Mix medicines (do NOT crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds;
- Place the mixture in a container, such as a sealed plastic bag; and
- Throw the container in your household trash
To read the full FDA webpage, click here: Disposal of Unused Medications
National Take Back Initiative
On Saturday, April 30, 2011, there is a national program to take back unused drugs. Between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm at specified sites around the country, you’ll be able to drop off all your excess medication.
Want to find a site near you? Click here: Collection Site Search
To read more about this program, click here: National Take Back Initiative
Three Common Mistakes Made by Teen Drivers
April 21st, 2011
Compared with middle-aged driver, teen drivers are 10 times more likely to be involved in a car wreck. There have been lots of theories why, but now we know the actual reasons. Researchers analyzed information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 795 serious crashes involving drivers who where 15 to 18 years old.
Their report, published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention, showed some information that might be useful in preventing teen crashes and injury:
- About 75% of all serious crashes in which a teen was a driver were caused by the teen.
- About 46% of teen errors were recognition errors–being distracted, not checking mirrors often enough, or misjudging the speed of other cars when making a left turn.
- The next most common error, which accounted for 40% of teen errors, was decision error–these include following too closely or driving too fast for condition.
- 8% of errors were performance errors, such as losing control.
According to an article in The New York Times, when teens learn to drive, they learn the basics—how to stay in a lane, how to park, how to turn—often in a deserted parking lot or on a sunny day. In addition, parents should also give driving lessons in the dark and during inclement weather. In addition, parents should also teach driving judgement through something called “narrative driving”:
…the adult drives while giving a teenage passenger a play by play. Point out examples of unsafe driving, explain why you are changing lanes or slowing down, announce when you are checking the mirrors, and explain how you are reacting to information. Show the prospective driver how you deal with distractions like a disruptive child in the back seat without taking your eyes off the road.
“It’s helpful to talk out loud about what you’re seeing and doing,” Dr. Durbin said [Dennis Durbin, co-director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia]. “It sensitizes your teen to the fact that there is a lot more going on up here in the front seat than he thought there was.”
Suggestions also include making sure children get enough sleep, and if not, that they not be allowed to drive that day. It’s about keeping kids safe…and alive.