Have you suffered a head trauma or concussion in an accident?

brain injuryIf you’ve been glued to the TV watching the NFL playoffs for the Super Bowl, you have undoubtably seen brutal hits taken by football players, some resulting in head trauma and concussions. Alex Smith, the San Francisco 49’er quarterback, saw his career sidelined by a concussion. Many players, both professional and at the college level, downplay their symptoms to avoid that outcome. The long-term effects of concussions are still somewhat unknown.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury where the brain is shaken inside the head. It cause a variety of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including headaches, dizziness, nausea, difficulty thinking clearly, irritability, anxiousness. The effects are usually temporary but the recovery period varies. You can sustain a concussion without losing consciousness. As an Oakland Personal Injury attorney, I have seen many clients suffer concussions in falls and automobile accidents.

So I was intrigued to hear of a research undertaking at Stanford University to try and understand what causes a concussion. The researchers have developed custom mouth guards with sensors that measure how violently a player’s head gets whipped around during a game. Throughout this past season, the players wore these mouth guards that recorded and measured the impacts to each players’ head and brain when his was hit.

The research has found that helmet- to- helmet impacts aren’t the only danger for a player but sometimes equally as dangerous is the force from their heads hitting the ground after a hit. Another factor considered is the multiple directions the head goes from an impact and the position of the head prior to the impact. Many times I have seen clients who have been involved in a pedestrian/vehicle accident sustain injuries from hitting the ground after the impact of the vehicle. The impact of an airbag deployed in an accident can cause complicate the head and neck injuries in an accident as well.

According to David Camarillo, an assistant professor of bioengineering at the Stanford School of Medicine, football is a good model system for studying head injuries because of the high injury incidence, however he expects the basic finding of this research to apply to several fields including transportation.

When a client comes to me after sustaining a head trauma, my first recommendation is to make sure they have been seen by a health care professional immediately. Test such as CT scan or other neurocognitive tests may be necessary although diagnosis can be difficult. Sometimes these test will not be conclusive. I have hired experts in the field of biomechanics to assess the mechanics of the accident, the force of impact on the body. Like the football players, an auto accident can cause the head to move in more than one direction. A biomechanical expert is extremely important in cases with severe head injuries.

Since the symptoms and severity of concussions vary, I spend a lot of time talking with my clients and their families about how this has affected their day to day life.
Your job performance at work may be affected by not being able to think clearly and process information the same as prior to the accident. Maybe you are unable to return to work. This may have financial implications. Relationships can be affected if you suffer depression, anxiety and a range of emotions. Many clients have trouble sleeping.

With the variable of symptoms and recovery, insurance companies many times do not view the seriousness of a post concussion syndrome or TBI (traumatic brain injury) in the same way that they view a broken bone such as a broken leg, arm or spine fracture which can be readily seen on an x-ray or MRI. Conveying the seriousness of the injury is my job as your attorney. I find the best experts to provide evidential analysis to plead your case.


Stanford researchers measure impact of football concussions, Stanford Report, October 24, 2012

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