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Westlake Village Personal Injury Blog

UCLA Study: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Revealed by Biomarkers

Mild-Traumatic-Brain-Injury-Lawyer.jpgConcussions, which are actually mild traumatic brain injuries (TBI's), often go undiagnosed and can lead to lasting neurological impairment, especially if the injuries recur. Researchers at UCLA have identified biomarkers that could aid doctors in the diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries with only a simple blood test. Brain cells called astrocytes, release proteins as biomarkers into the bloodstream when the astrocytes outer membranes rupture from impact or shaking.

Doctors currently rely on CT scans or a scoring system to describe the level of a patient's consciousness after suffering a blow to the head. However, neither method has shown to accurately predict recovery or disability while milder injuries, such as concussions may not be identified at all. People with mild brain trauma, like those associated with athletes and military personnel, may not receive proper treatment and may also risk repeating the injury which can be life threatening.

Study Shows Promise in Reducing Newborn Brain Injury

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Researchers at Children's National Health Center and Drexel University College conducted the first study of a promising treatment to reduce or prevent hypoxia-ischemia, a serious complication of oxygen deprivation resulting in brain injury to newborns.

Newborn brain injury resulting from the impaired flow of oxygen can result in adverse effects that can be life altering and range from mild to severe. The affects may be minor, such as learning disabilities, to cataclysmic, including the inability to speak, walk, talk, see or even breathe. The complications can occur from a variety of issues during, before or immediately after birth. Maternal or placental problems such as cord prolapse or placental abruption, fetal or newborn issues such as labor asphyxia or labor difficulties, infection, fetal-maternal bleeding or twin-to-twin transfusion are some of the causes of hypoxia-ischemia.

The study, published in Neonatology on Oct. 13, 2017, focused on newborn experimental models exposed to hypoxia-ischemia. The subjects were treated with therapeutic hypothermia, (standard cooling therapy) alone and in combination with a selective Src kinase inhibitor, PP2 that inhibits the intensification of a regulatory enzyme of apoptosis, or cell death, which occurs from hypoxia-ischemia. The Food and Drug Administration, has previously approved an Src kinase inhibitor as an oncology treatment. This is the first study of the benefits of blocking this enzyme to reduce the neurological damage caused by hypoxia-ischemia.

Study: Gelatin Aids Healing of Blood Brain Barrier in Brain Injury

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Research conducted at Lund University in Sweden revealed beneficial effects of gelatin following traumatic brain injury. The inherent ability of gelatin coatings to reduce adverse immune responses to neurological implants has been recognized for some time, but the explanation of why has been elusive.

The researchers discovered that gelatin protected the blood brain barrier (BBB) from potentially damaging foreign molecules and cells, thus aiding recovery. The BBB consists of a collection of vessels that separate the blood circulation of the body from the sensitive brain.

Sleep Apnea and Inadequate Traffic Plan Blamed for Deadly Casino Bus Crash

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An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, of the Oct.23 2016 crash of a 47-passenger 1996 MCI motor coach operated by USA Holiday, determined that the casino bus slammed into the rear of a stopped tractor-trailer at 75 MPH. The tour bus driver was killed in the bus crash along with 12 passengers who were on a return trip from the Red Earth Casino in Thermal California.

The NTSB also found that the fatal bus crash was likely the result of the truck driver's undiagnosed sleep apnea coupled with an inadequate traffic management plan by the state to control traffic in a work zone.

According to federal investigators, the police stopped the tractor-trailer along with other traffic, due to utility work. After the traffic began to move the truck remained stationary. The casino bus rammed the back of the trailer with such force that it plowed through 13 feet of the trailer and pushed the rig 71 feet forward on the roadway.

The probable cause of the crash, determined by the NTSB, was the inadequate transportation management plan in place by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for stopping traffic. A hazardous situation was created when the police could not detect the failure of the tractor-trailer to begin moving with the other traffic and did not provide any warning to the bus driver of the potential for stopped traffic in its path.

The Northern California Fires - A Look at the Aftermath

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The Northern California wildfires left in their wake, paths of destruction that Californians have never known. Forty-two lives were lost and an estimated 8,400 structures were destroyed. Damage estimates for homes, businesses and property have climbed into the billions of dollars.

Witness accounts show that power lines owned by Pacific Gas and Electric fell during high winds igniting the fires.

What Victims of the Northern California Fires are Facing

Residents who lost homes and businesses are left desperately struggling to recover their lives. The emotional trauma caused by the disaster is just beginning to affect many, while some may not realize the trauma for weeks, months or even years. The lives people once knew are gone. Not only must they dig through the ashes, they must search deep in their emotions.

JAMA: Better Communication Needed Following a Medical Malpractice Injury

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Improved hospital communication with patients is crucial following medical malpractice, or mistakes during treatment, to aid in their endurance and resolution of the issue, according to new findings.

The medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine published a report last month by Australian researchers indicating the patients generally have positive experiences following a medical injury, but there was much room for improvement. Often doctors and staff display a lack of empathy in regards to the issue and fail to communicate the path of resolution of the underlying cause to prevent reoccurrence with future patients.

Researchers conducted interviews with 40 patients, family members, and staff members who had been involved with the medical errors. The interviews took place at three U.S. hospitals, which operate communication and resolution programs (CRPs), between January 6, 2016 and June 30, 2016.

To be eligible for the research interviews, patients were required to have received a CRP, speak English, and were no longer able to file a malpractice claim because of receiving prior compensation or expiration of the statute of limitations.

NHTSA: Traffic Fatalities Up Again in 2016

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According to information released by federal highway safety regulators, U.S traffic fatalities rose for the second consecutive year in 2016, despite a reduction in the number of distracted driving fatalities.

The vehicle collision death toll reached 37,461 in 2016, the highest mark since 2007 according to figures released by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). The increase of 5.6 percent in traffic fatalities followed an 8.4 percent leap in 2015, which was the greatest annual increase since the mid 1960's.

Surprisingly, the increase in deaths was linked to other risky behaviors, rather than fatigued driving and distracted driving. Texting related fatalities actually declined by 2.2 percent. The largest overall gains in deaths were attributed to speeding, drunk driving and failure to wear a seatbelt. Drunk driving was listed as the number one cause for the increase in mortality.

The NHTSA said in a statement, "The agency continues to promote vehicle technologies that hold the potential to reduce the number of crashes and save lives every year. They may eventually help reduce or eliminate human error and the mistakes that people make behind the wheel."

FMCSA: Hours-Of-Service Rule Change For Commercial Drivers to be Tested

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has plans in place to test new hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers. The adjusted rules would allow drivers to divide their off duty time into two shorter periods without exceeding current on duty driving limits.

Approximately 200 commercial truck drivers will be enrolled by the FMCSA into a pilot program that will basically reinstate a previous standard, allowing drivers to split their sleeper berth time.

Truckers who routinely use a sleeper berth would be allowed to split their 10 hours of off-duty time into two separate sleeper berth periods of no less than three hours, under the test program. The FMCSA hopes to develop "statistically reliable evidence" how split sleeper berth time affects driver safety performance and fatigue.

Truck Accident Test Shows Need For Side Underride Guards

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Underride accidents account for twenty-five percent of all fatal truck accidents. California leads the country in the number of all underride deaths with 426 recorded between 1993 and 2015. Death by underride is drastically undercounted, as some crash report forms do no contain a check box for underrides.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tested safeguards called AngelWings that prevent passenger cars from sliding beneath the side of a tractor-trailer or large truck. Side underride crashes generally occur when a tractor-trailer jackknifes, causing vehicles behind to crash into the side. Very often airbags fail to deploy because of the height of the trailer. Roofs can get sheared off and passengers may receive severe head injuries, even decapitation. In other instances the rear wheels of the trailer may ride over the vehicle crushing it.

The IIHS car and truck accident test showed that AngelWings, produced by the AirFlow Deflector Company, were extremely effective at preventing side underride and also initiated air bag deployment. At present they are the only commercially available side guards available for commercial tractor-trailers. AngelWings have been on the market for over a year but are not required equipment in the US.

Research Supports a New Approach to Understanding Concussions

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Approximately 3.8 million cases of traumatic brain injury are reported in the United States each year, most of which are concussions.

According to new research led by Portland University, an entirely new approach to understanding the complexities of concussion, and how to treat it, will become the criterion. The researchers favor systems science, a discipline that analyzes complex problems, as whole systems, and integrates research findings from different disciplines.

"Complex systems are those in which the behavior of the whole is not entirely explained by the behavior of its parts," said Erin Kenzie, systems science researcher at Portland State. "Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is very complex. It's been called the most complicated disease of the most complex organ of the body."

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