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San Jose brain injury lawyerChildren, whose brains are still developing, often have a long road to recovery after a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Physical therapy, mental health care, and speech therapy that may last for weeks, months, or possibly even years are some of the most common treatment interventions needed to help them recover. Unfortunately, some young victims may have a more difficult time obtaining that much-needed care.

Children From Low-Income Households Struggle to Find Care Providers

Often, children from low income households have their medical needs met through Medicaid, medical insurance that is provided by the state. Unfortunately, the payouts for treating Medicaid patients are lower, and many doctors opt not to accept them. This limits options for Medicaid patients and, at times, can make it extremely difficult to receive the treatment they need.

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While often viewed as a safe and fun activity, bicycling can also be extremely dangerous. In fact, information recently released by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons showed that out of the estimated 447,000 sports-related brain injuries, about 86,000 were related to bicycle accidents. This number is compared to the roughly 47,000 associated with the more publicized football head and brain injuries.

In short, riding a bicycle should be considered a dangerous sport. Whether for pleasure or out of necessity, individuals who choose to ride a bicycle should always wear a helmet. During 2009, 90 percent of reported bicycle accidents involved bicyclists who were not wearing a helmet, the majority of which involved men in their mid-40s.

Individuals involved in bicycle accidents often sustain serious injuries which have long-lasting implications. In cases where an individual is not wearing a helmet, a head or brain injury is highly likely. Not only can a brain injury be fatal, but it can also result in an individual suffering short-term memory loss, being paralyzed or suffering cognitive impairments.

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While any car accident can be serious and result in those impacted sustaining painful injures, those car accidents in which bicyclists are involved are often among the most serious in nature. Most people can likely recall being a child and learning to ride a bicycle. 

A 14-year-old boy recently suffered numerous injuries after the bicycle on which he was riding collided with a car. According to a police report, the accident occurred at an intersection around 9 p.m. Police continue to investigate factors that may have contributed to the accident, but it's clear that the car struck the bicycle resulting in the boy being ejected from the bike.

 

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Health advocates, sports fanatics and athletes all might be watching the same news story as of today, with a judge set to consider the 222 lawsuits involving brain injuries among former NFL players.

This isn't the trial, not yet. Instead, the judge first has to decide whether the matter of players' brain injuries belongs in a civil court or whether it must be handled via arbitration due to the league's collective bargaining agreement. The NFL seeks the dismissal of the personal injury lawsuits.

The players behind the negligence allegations against the NFL argue that they played football under the impression that head injuries were not as serious as they have turned out to be. Players who've sustained concussions suffer from depression, dementia and neurological disorders. They argue that the league knew of those risks but purposely hid the true medical facts from the players who deserved to understand what they were risking.

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Various types of injuries can result from motor vehicle accidents. Some might be relatively minor, like a cut or bruise. Some are more clearly severe such as bone fractures. Some are catastrophic injuries like spinal cord injuries and brain damage. And, as it turns out, even what might seem like a so-called minor head injury could have a serious impact on a crash victim.

Radiology, a medical journal, reports on a study that evaluated the brains of patients who had sustained single concussions. They compared the MRIs of those brain injury patients over time and to those who never sustained a concussion and found that there was lasting damage. The revelation proves how all it takes is one accident for a person's life to potentially change in a significant way.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than one million people in the U.S. sustain mild forms of brain injury, including concussions, every year. The head injuries are sustained through different incidents, sports being a common and popularly-discussed cause. But news regarding the long-term health impact of a singular concussion also has meaning for those who are suffering from a brain injury due to a car accident.

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The occurrence of a traumatic brain injury in a traffic accident is devastating; life changes for that person in an instant, often due to circumstances beyond the victim's control. Whether an animal ran out onto the road or another vehicle suddenly collided with the victim without warning, there's usually little that can be done to stop the accident from happening.

But when the brain injury is caused as a result of a hospital or nursing home staff's negligence, it's even harder to accept the victim's fate. Medical errors or lapses in care are inexcusable when the patient expects to be in good hands. The state of California appears to agree, having recently fined the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center $100,000 -- the maximum fine allowable under state law -- for an error that led to the severe brain injury of a patient.

The patient was a vibrant man in his early 80s who was taken to the hospital after a fall at his home. Once admitted to the transitional care neurosurgery unit, he was hooked up to a heart monitor. But somehow the man fell out of his bed and landed facedown on the floor. Nine minutes passed before a nurse discovered him, even though a technician who kept track of the man's monitor signals paged for help as soon as he fell and became disconnected from the monitor. Getting no response, the technician made a second announcement on the overhead page system, right around the time the nurse found him.

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A new study by a leading neurological care center reveals new insights for brain disease. This study may give some hope to California residents who have experienced a brain injury or suffer from brain disease related to impacts to the head.

The study revealed that five former NFL players have signs of a brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is related to concussions. This study, though small, is the first that might help doctors detect the illness while the patient is still alive.

Previous CTE studies had been done only in autopsies, in which brain cells would be stained and contained in cross sections of the brain to be viewed under a microscope. Signs of CTE would include a buildup of protein clusters.

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When a person is seriously injured in an accident, life changes dramatically not just for the victim, but for his or her entire family. For victims whose families depend on their income, an accident can lead to worries about how they will survive if they are unable to work. When the victim is a child, parents may have to quit their jobs to take on the specialized care that seriously injured accident victims need.

These problems can be magnified for traumatic brain injury sufferers. Brain injuries can range from mild to severe, and it's sometimes hard to accurately place the injury on that spectrum. Memory problems, for example, may not be immediately apparent. It's also nearly impossible to tell how quickly a TBI patient will recover, and to what extent. These great unknowns can quickly add to existing financial worries over affording the medical care itself.

A Gilroy, California, teen and his family know the struggles associated with brain injuries all too well. The boy, who turned 17 this week, suffered a TBI when he fell off his skateboard last summer. Half a year later, the family is still learning to cope. Now in a wheelchair, the teen is trying his hardest to overcome severe memory loss and regain the ability to walk. Meanwhile, his parents have become completely focused on caring for him and helping him to recover.

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While most car accidents have the potential to cause serious injuries, those involving pedestrians carry a much higher risk. With no protection against the force of a motor vehicle, people who come into contact with one usually suffer debilitating injuries. A recent pedestrian accident in San Francisco's Anza Vista neighborhood was no exception.

A woman was crossing the street one Friday evening a couple of weeks ago when a car drove through the intersection and hit her. But rather than stopping to check on the woman, the driver left the scene immediately. The woman, 50 years old, lay there until she was discovered and someone called for help. She was rushed to a San Francisco hospital with serious brain injuries that were said to be life-threatening.

Police don't appear to have found the person who caused the Dec. 28 accident, which must be frustrating for the victim and her family. An update hasn't been provided on the woman's condition, but severe brain injuries tend not to heal quickly. On the contrary, they can take months and even years to fully recover from. In many cases, brain injury victims never fully recover and often deal with radical life changes as a result. These can include regular therapy, a job change or even the inability to work at all. Many brain injury victims need medical care and assistance with basic daily tasks for the rest of their lives.

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Fog is a frequent occurrence in many areas of California. Driving in the fog can be dangerous and lead to car accidents that risk serious injury to the driver, passengers, other motorists and pedestrians. Four years ago, a young grandmother was behind the wheel taking four relatives, including two grandchildren, to a train station. The accident that happened on that foggy day would result in injuries requiring that she remain in a nursing home to this day.

While the road was familiar to her, heavy fog hid the approach of a stop sign. The fog had disoriented her to the point that she didn't know how close she was to the intersection. By the time she realized where she was, her vehicle had already entered the intersection, only to be rammed by an oncoming semitrailer on the driver's side.

Her car spun around and around by the force of the impact. Everyone in her car, including her 12-year-old and 3-month-old grandchildren, was securely fastened in their seats with seat belts or car seats. The children escaped without injuries. Two other adults riding in the car had to be hospitalized with injuries, but were released only hours later.

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A young California man who was once a promising 4.0 student continues to seek success in life despite a traumatic brain injury he suffered in a car accident more than eight years ago. Although he maintains a positive outlook on life, his injury has forced him to change many of the plans he'd made before the crash.

The accident happened in July 2004, the summer before his senior year of high school. The 17-year-old student was traveling home on a highway from his internship at a law firm when an oncoming car trying to pass a semitrailer obstructed his lane. After swerving to avoid a head-on collision, he wound up on the shoulder of the other side of the road. That's when a pickup truck swerved and crashed into his car.

Ambulance medics had to resuscitate his heart on the way to a Fontana hospital, where he remained unconscious with a traumatic brain injury. He says that by the time he finally became aware of his surroundings, it was October. He still gets frustrated thinking about how difficult his first months of recovery were.

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Countless numbers of families have gone through the experience of being told a loved one has suffered a devastating brain injury, and not to expect miracles when it comes to recovery. In many cases, patients have proved their doctors and therapists wrong with unbelievable comebacks. These inspiring stories remind us that there is still much we don't know about the body's capacity to repair itself.

One such case involves a former Marine currently from Sunnyvale, California. Ever since he was involved in a 1991 car accident while he was stationed in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm, the 47-year-old has been fighting to reclaim the parts of him that the head-on collision took away.

The man's injuries were so serious that his family was discouraged from visiting him in the hospital in Germany where he was taken after the accident; he wasn't expected to survive. When he finally came out of a coma five months later, he needed a wheelchair to compensate for the weakness in his left side. He was also legally blind and had to learn how to speak again. Despite these brain-injury-related setbacks, he has never stopped fighting. Several times a week he reports for physical therapy at a facility in San Jose, and one of his current goals is to complete a vocational training program that could allow him to work again -- possibly with a police department, a lifelong dream that inspired his decision to join the Marines in the first place.

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Researchers at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health conducted a survey of 1,000 residents of central California, all adults age 35 and older. Of them, nearly 35 percent were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a disorder with symptoms such as tremors and loss of coordination. The study, released last week, found that those with Parkinson's were twice as likely as those without to report having suffered a head injury at some point, and having lost consciousness for more than five minutes.

Those with the disorder were also more likely to live within 500 meters of a location where the herbicide paraquat was used. Paraquat is used to kill weeds and plants.

Either condition could contribute to the development of Parkinson's disease; however, it seems when both factors are involved, the risk is higher. The reason for this appears to be that earlier head injury makes brain cells vulnerable to this particular poison used on plants. This is clearly something for those diagnosed with the disease to consider in their individual case.

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For the most part, San Francisco is a pedestrian-friendly city. Public transportation options abound, so those who choose not to drive or own a car can get around fairly easily by train, bus, cable car or on foot. Of course, they still must share public spaces with thousands of cars, whose drivers are just as eager to get where they need to be. Pedestrians and drivers must keep an eye out for each other, especially as they use the same roads.

An accident that happened in San Francisco over the weekend appears to be the result of a driver's failure to see a pedestrian. A 54-year-old woman was crossing the street at an intersection in the South of Market neighborhood on Saturday when an SUV hit her. The vehicle was making a left turn at the time. Although it's not clear how fast the SUV was traveling at the time of the accident, the impact was severe enough that the woman was critically injured. She suffered injuries to her brain that are considered life-threatening. 

Fortunately, the driver, a 60-year-old man, stopped immediately after the accident and has been cooperating with police. It's likely that he wasn't watching for pedestrians as he made the turn, even though the woman was in a dedicated crosswalk.

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When a 39-year-old San Jose woman left home on the morning of just another normal day, she didn't know she would be involved in a crash that would leave her in critical condition. No one expects tragedy to strike as they go about the everyday routines of daily life, yet brain injuries like the one this woman suffered do happen -- even in such a typical exchange as being cut off by another driveway on a highway.

The woman was driving a Toyota Camry when she swerved to avoid colliding with a driver who cut her off around 5 a.m. The Toyota then rolled several times before landing sideways across the fast lane and median, with traffic coming at the passenger side of the car. Her car was broadsided when another driver in a Toyota MR2 struck her stopped vehicle. She was subsequently rushed to a nearby hospital and was in critical condition after being diagnosed with serious head trauma.

The driver who initially cut off the woman in the Camry sped away, never stopping. The California Highway Patrol has no information regarding that vehicle.

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As we discussed in our last post, accidents between cars and pedestrians have a high potential to be fatal. Even at slow speeds, a car has enough force and weight to kill a walker, runner or bicyclist. Those who aren't killed in such accidents often face a long, painful recovery. And as another recent accident demonstrates, this recovery doesn't come cheap.

A woman who was nearly killed in a pedestrian accident with a pickup truck is showing good signs of progress, according to her family. The accident, which killed her mother-in-law, happened Sept. 8 in Walnut Creek, California. The two women were walking with their husbands on a sidewalk when a pickup truck left the road and crashed into them. The woman who survived was rushed to a hospital with severe brain trauma, a weak left side and torn ligaments in her knee, among other injuries.

Although doctors feared she would suffer permanent brain damage, her brain has strengthened considerably. She is alert, remembers the accident and has begun the long process of physical rehabilitation. Recently doctors put a valve on her breathing tube that allows her to speak; family and friends say they are overjoyed to hear her voice again. She's also begun to take her first steps with the help of a walker. A woman who rushed to the woman's aid just after the accident compared the woman's recovery to a rag doll coming to life.

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There are countless ways to suffer a brain injury. Car accidents, combat and contact sports have all led to problems ranging from mild concussions to comas. Much to the frustration of both doctors and patients, there are also countless possibilities when it comes to healing from those injuries. It can be nearly impossible to determine when, if, and how long it will take for someone to completely recover.

Thanks to two wars and several lawsuits against the NFL, we're more aware than ever of the impact that a traumatic brain injury can have. But the scope of these injuries isn't limited to veterans and professional football players. Athletes at every level down to peewee soccer are susceptible to long-term effects of a serious bump on the head. Accident victims, too, can suffer the effects of a head injury without realizing how badly they've been hurt.

But a new set of guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology could change how we approach treatment of TBI, particularly when it comes to athletics. The academy plans to release its first comprehensive set of recommendations since 1997 at the end of this year. The report promises to include risk factors for athletes, how brain injuries are diagnosed, what factors can affect recovery and ways to determine when it's safe for athletes to return to the field. These guidelines could bring changes to sports leagues nationwide and prevent players from suffering serious damage.

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Many times after a car accident, it can be hard to detect all of a patient's injuries. In some cases accident victims come to the emergency room feeling little to no pain. But that doesn't mean problems can't crop up later, particularly in the case of brain injuries. Because these injuries can be difficult to pinpoint, many patients are given cranial computed tomography, or CT scans.

How do emergency room doctors determine whether a patient should receive a CT scan? That was one of the many questions raised in a study by a professor from the University of California Davis. The study, which was published this month in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, found that children with minor blunt head trauma are much less likely to receive a CT scan during an emergency room visit than nonminority children with the same risk.

Minor head trauma carries a low to intermediate risk of "clinically important" traumatic brain injury, according to the study, which examined the connection between race and CT use at hospitals using data from almost 40,000 cases of children who were seen within 24 hours of their injury. The children were white non-Hispanic, black-non-Hispanic or Hispanic. The severity of the children's injuries were described using a previously validated means of classifying each child's risk of TBI.

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A California jury awarded the victim of a slip and fall injury $38.6 million to compensate the person for a brain injury caused by a low motel balcony railing. The railing was significantly lower than local building codes required and therefore did not protect anyone over 5 feet 7 inches tall from falling.

While this award is certainly larger than a typical slip and fall settlement would be, it also shows that these types of accidents can cause very severe injuries. This is one of the many reasons why property owners are held to the standard of reasonable safety for visitors and why they have a duty to warn people of known or likely hazards.

Brain injuries are some of the most difficult injuries to recover from, since the brain is slow to repair itself and does not regrow tissue the way that other organs can. Many accident victims who sustain head and brain injuries suffer from memory loss and loss of other cognitive functions that can make it difficult or impossible to continue to work. One of the major factors influencing large awards in brain injury cases is often the large amount of lost wages caused by the injury.

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Recovery from a serious car accident requires more than just good medical care. Injury sufferers also need money to afford that care. The parents of a San Jose woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a collision three years ago are all too aware of the costs of her recovery, which is ongoing without an end in sight.

The young woman, now 21, was on her way to church when her car was hit head-on by another vehicle. The collision left her in a vegetative state, and although she continues to improve, her medical costs continue to pile up. Both her parents, who are divorced, quit their jobs to care for her around the clock. The family does have insurance but it doesn't cover all of the costs , including her physical, occupational or speech therapy. One form of this therapy began in May 2011, almost two years after her accident. "Waking" treatment allowed her to communicate with her family for the first time using "yes or no" buttons. But this treatment isn't covered by insurance, either.

To help offset the cost of the treatments that are helping her improve, her family has collaborated with the International Brain Research Foundation to hold a 5 kilometer run benefit. The third annual event will take place at the end of this month and aims to raise $100,000.

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