Console & Hollawell Blog

Know Your Blood Clot Risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis Month

By Richard Console on March 25, 2015 - Comments off

Know Your Blood Clot Risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis Month

We’ve talked a lot about it being Brain Injury Awareness Month, but did you know that March is also Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Month? DVT is a serious medical condition – one that could lead to life-threatening complications – and being hurt in an accident can raise your risk of developing it.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)DVT is the development of a blood clot in a “deep” vein of your body, such as a leg or arm, that partially or completely blocks the vein. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

The Deadly Consequences of DVT

DVT can have fatal complications. Nearly one-third of patients with deep vein thrombosis develop what’s called a pulmonary embolism, a condition in which a blood clot travels into the lungs, WebMD reported. Each year, an estimated 600,000 people die from pulmonary embolisms. Less common – but no less dangerous – is the risk of the clot traveling to the heart, causing a heart attack, or the brain, leading to a stroke. Approximately 30 percent – or, by some estimates, up to 60 percent – of DVT patients also develop a condition called post-thrombotic syndrome, a long-term condition characterized by pain, swelling, and discoloration.

What Raises Your Risks for a Blood Clot

Technically, a blood clot could happen to anyone, without an apparent cause. However, a number of risk factors for DVT are tied to accidents and injuries.

You might be at risk if you:

  • Required the use of a central venous catheter
  • Suffered paralysis as a result of a spinal cord injury
  • Sustained any injury, including a broken bone, that diminished blood flow to any body part
  • Underwent surgery that decreased blood flow to any body part
  • Underwent surgery on your abdomen, calf, chest, hip, knee, or leg – including emergency trauma surgery or surgery to set a broken bone
  • Underwent orthopedic surgery, or surgery to any part of your musculoskeletal system (including bones, nerves, joints, muscles, and tendons)
  • Were forced to remain on bed rest for longer than three days as a result of your injury

You don’t have to sustain catastrophic physical damage to put you at risk of developing DVT. About eight percent – which may sound small, but translates to an estimated more than 70,000 people a year – of DVTs originated from minor leg injuries that never required a cast or immobilization, WebMD reported. Maybe you thought you were lucky to only suffer that sprained ankle or pulled muscle, but the frightening reality is that you might not be in the clear just yet.

What to Do If You Suspect a Blood Clot

Know the symptoms of DVT. Get medical help right away if you notice symptoms like the following:

  • Pain, tenderness, or swelling in just one leg or thigh
  • Redness or warmth in just one leg or thigh

About half of all blood clots never produce noticeable symptoms, but they can still lead to dangerous complications. If you suspect a blood clot for any reason, see your doctor or get emergency medical care immediately. Expect your physician to examine your leg, perform an ultrasound, and order blood tests to determine whether or not you have a blood clot.

If you have developed DVT, you will likely need to take a blood-thinner or anticoagulant medication like Heparin or Coumadin in either injection or pill format for months, possibly even longer. You also may need to be hospitalized for a few days. Depending on the circumstances, doctors may recommend that you wear a pressure stocking or compression stocking on your affected leg to prevent future clots. Some patients undergo surgery to remove an especially large clot or to insert a filter that will make sure the blood clot can’t move into your lungs.

After an accident, you may be so preoccupied with the major injuries you have already suffered that it’s easy to overlook additional risks, like the possibility of developing a blood clot. If you know you’re at risk because of the injuries you suffered or the medical interventions you endured, ask your doctor if there’s anything you can do to prevent a blood clot before it happens.


5 Inspiring Breakthroughs in TBI Treatment

By Richard Console on March 24, 2015 - Comments off

Right now, an estimated 5,300,000 Americans live with permanent disabilities that stem from a traumatic brain injury (TBI). For many TBI survivors, life with a brain injury is a daily struggle. For some, the physical symptoms linger on, changing how they move and walk – or, for that matter, if they can walk. For others who manage excellent physical recoveries but continue to suffer cognitive and behavioral symptoms, a TBI becomes an “invisible injury” – one that never stops impacting their lives, but which seems even more frustrating when others downplay the injury simply because they can’t see it.

These survivors want the same things that all of us want: their health, a purpose, and love and acceptance. For them, though, getting those things can be difficult when they have to fight to overcome debilitating symptoms every day. While there’s no question that a traumatic brain injury can be a life-changing injury, there’s hope for survivors and the loved ones who take care of them. There’s currently no “proven treatment for promoting recovery” in TBI patients, Harvard Magazine reported, but there are a number of researchers investigating a wide range of possibilities for better detecting and treating TBIs.

TBI rehabilitation therapyMany TBI patients must relearn to walk and redevelop their balance and coordination. New innovations could mean that patients sustain less significant damage or can make a more complete recovery. Photo Credit: Flickr.

Check out five of the most inspiring breakthroughs in brain injury treatment below.

1. Blood-Based Biomarkers

Among the most challenging aspects of treating a brain injury is how much TBI cases vary from one another. No two are alike, according to the Brain Injury Association of America. Doctors typically use the Glasgow Coma Scale to classify brain injuries as mild, moderate, or severe, but only on the patient’s initial injury and response factor into these classifications. They don’t necessarily have much to do with the patient’s prognosis, and a lucid interval – in which a patient seems fine after a brain injury but later deteriorates – can mean that a serious injury goes unrecognized.

Scientists are now looking to biomarkers, or biological indicators, in the blood to help them differentiate between brain injuries of different severities. For example, there may be an increase of a specific biomarker in the blood of a patient with a severe injury that wouldn’t be present in a patient with a mild injury, Managed Care reported. When doctors are better able to determine the severity of an injury, they can make sure patients get the right care at the right time, and that could make a big improvement in their prognoses.

2. Pharmaceutical Treatments

While many brain injury survivors take medications to treat symptoms such as seizures, pain, and depression, there are currently no drugs that actually treat traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) themselves. Yet drug-based treatment could be the future of TBI management, according to the Daily Times. Researchers have identified a naturally occurring compound called humanin, one type of which reduced impairment in mice with brain injuries. If this treatment method is ultimately found to be successful in human beings, too, then there would finally be a medication that treats the injury instead of just addressing its symptoms.

Scientists elsewhere are researching the possibility that they could develop a medication that will disrupt a chemical process that occurs in brain injuries, reducing the damage to neurons and blood vessel cells inside the brain, Harvard Magazine reported. Such a drug could potentially help even if administered shortly after a head injury – and in the case of high-risk activities, like injuries in combat zones, the drugs could even be given before an injury occurs as a preventive measure.

A University of Texas researcher has discovered and patented compounds that could protect the brain’s neurons if administered immediately after – say, within half an hour of – sustaining a brain injury, potentially stopping the damage in its tracks by stimulating cells called astrocytes. The next step toward making this possibility a reality is to begin phase one of clinical trials, Texas Public Radio reported.

3. Hypberic Oxygen Treatments

When a patient suffers brain damage in an accident, many of their symptoms are thought to result from broken or interrupted in pathways in the brain. What if there was a form of treatment that could rewire those pathways or forge new paths to replace those damaged beyond repair? As it turns out, there may be one such therapy.

Hypberic oxygen treatments, called a “breakthrough treatment” that’s “proven to help rewire broken neuropathways in the brain and make new ones” by WVEC News, is a form of therapy that dates back to the 1660s, according to brain research organization The Dana Foundation. In recent years, researchers have tried using the noninvasive treatment, in which medical providers place patients in a sealed room and expose them to 100 percent pure oxygen at an increased level of atmospheric pressure, to treat TBIs as well as a number of other conditions. While research results are still mixed –some claim that the treatment is proven to improve the functioning of TBI patients, but others argue that there’s no significant difference between the results seen in the real treatment and control groups – any possibility for repairing damaged neuropathways is, at the very least, a reason to hold on to hope.

4. Wearable Diagnostic Imaging Devices

Medical imaging is an important part of assessing the severity of head injuries, but a new device could help medical providers in emergency situations detect structural damage to the brain even before you reach a CT scanner. The FDA recently approved BrainScope’s Ahead 100, a device that patients wear on their heads – like a hat – that can produce an electroencephalogram of the brain’s structure, Managed Care reported.

CT ScanWearable imaging devices won’t replace CT scans – at least not yet – but as an immediate tool, they can help doctors determine how much damage a TBI patient has suffered. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

 5. Prosthetic Memory Aid

You’ve heard of prosthetic legs or hands, but what about a prosthetic for the mind? Memory problems are particularly common among brain injury patients, and some are so severe that they have a major effect on patients’ lives. The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on a new project that could help patients solve that problem. The agency’s Restoring Active Memory project focuses on creating a “memory chip,” a prosthetic implant that could help patients with TBI-related memory loss make and retrieve new memories, according to military media brand We Are the Mighty.

At this time, none of these breakthroughs are likely to replace the current methods used to treat TBIs, from acute care in an intensive care unit to physical, occupational, and cognitive therapy in inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers. However, this promising research could very well give doctors more tools to help future brain injury patients make the best possible recovery – and, for some of these patients, a recovery that’s even better than anyone thought possible.


Recalled Rentals: Is Your Loaner Car an Accident Waiting to Happen?

By Richard Console on March 19, 2015 - Comments off

Last year was a record year for safety-related car recalls. If your car wasn’t among the tens of millions of vehicles with potentially deadly defects, you might have breathed a sigh of relief and not given the news another thought.

However, you might not be as safe as you think you are, especially if you find yourself renting a car. Whether you’re behind the wheel of a loaner vehicle for a vacation or while waiting for an insurance company to sort out your property damage claim after a crash, the unfamiliar car could be an accident waiting to happen if it was recalled but not yet repaired.

Car rentalThere’s something your rental company isn’t telling you: your car might still have serious safety defects. Don’t assume a recalled car is fixed before you rent it. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

A Lack of Urgency in Recall Repairs

In 2014, automakers recalled more than 62,000,000 cars for safety defects. Many had faulty ignition switches that could suddenly cut off electrical power to your car as you drove, leaving you unable to steer, stop, or even rely on your power airbags to protect you in the almost inevitable crash.

Other cars had defective airbags that would fail completely, deploy with dangerously excessive force, or – perhaps most frightening – rupture violently at random and hurl metal shrapnel into unsuspecting drivers’ vulnerable bodies.

There were cars that were fire hazards, cars with defective fuel gauges, cars that had steering problems, cars with brakes that failed suddenly, and cars where the sensors in supposedly smart seat belts malfunctioned so that airbags deployed improperly. It seemed that if you could imagine a dangerous defect, however bizarre it might sound, there was already a recall related to that danger.

With more than 700 recalls issued during the year, it seemed like automakers couldn’t announce recalls fast enough. (In fact, manufacturers like General Motors and Hyundai faced fines from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration precisely because they didn’t issue recalls quickly enough – some risks had been known for years, but the cars were never recalled). Yet these companies weren’t exactly quick in actually performing the repairs. Even now, millions of car owners are still waiting for manufacturers to fix these potentially fatal flaws, according to KSHB News.

How Recalls Affect Your Rental

Privately-owned cars aren’t the only ones still awaiting the parts to fix safety defects. Rental cars have the same vulnerabilities. While some rental companies will keep recalled cars off the road until the safety problems are fixed, not all do. A massive recall can ground as much as one-third of a company’s fleet and cost it tens of millions of dollars in lost business if the company commits to keeping all of those vehicles out of the hands of would-be renters, Fortune reported.

The cost is one deterrent from making the safe decision, but there’s no federal legal requirement that rental companies protect their customers from recalled cars – a fact that, some lawmakers and advocacy groups say, needs to change.

“If a new car is recalled for a safety problem, it’s illegal for a dealer to sell you that car until the issue has been fixed,” according to Consumer Reports. “However, no similar protection exists for a person who buys a recalled used car or rents a recalled car. Under current federal law, rental-car companies and used-car dealers are not required to fix a defect—or even tell you about a problem—before you drive the vehicle off the lot.” That means your recalled car could have a deadly electrical problem, brake problem, or airbag problem, but you’re driving your family around in it, completely unaware of the danger.

Think the chance of actually getting hurt because of a recalled rental is a longshot? Think again. In 2004, two sisters died when their rental car, which had been recalled for a fire hazard (but never repaired), actually caught on fire. That tragic story has inspired previous legislation, but no proposed laws governing recalled rental cars have been successful so far.

Last November, a woman sustained serious injuries – but survived, thankfully – when the airbags failed in the car she was renting, one of the millions of cars recalled for airbag problems. It can and does happen, and it could happen to any one of us.

Regulating Recalled Rentals

This isn’t a new problem – lawmakers and advocacy groups have been pushing for a law to this effect for years – but the massive number of recalls last year has made the issue more important than ever.

In the past, lobbyists for the auto industry have opposed adding the new regulation, even if it seems like an obvious way to protect car renters and anyone else they encounter on the road. Now, though, automakers like General Motors (GM) and rental companies like Enterprise Rent-A-Car have formally declared their support for federal legislation that will make it illegal for companies to rent a recalled car that hasn’t yet been repaired.

rental carsIt’s great that some companies are taking the initiative and opting not to rent out unrepaired, recalled vehicles, but other companies won’t make the change until a law forces them to do so. Photo Credit: Flickr.

Will support from inside the industry be enough to make this common-sense proposal into a law? Is 2015 the year that rental companies will finally be forced to protect their customers from recalls? This is one legislative battle worth watching, the outcome of which could make everyone on the road safer.


What You Need to Know About Concussions

By Richard Console on March 18, 2015 - Comments off

There’s a good chance that you or someone you love could sustain a concussion, whether in a big game or an unexpected accident. Millions of Americans will sustain concussions this year – like every year – from sports injuries, falls (the leading cause of all brain injuries), motor vehicle accidents, and assaults. Make sure you know how to recognize a concussion, the truth behind the many head injury myths, and when to get help.

ConcussionA concussion is brief loss of normal brain function that follows a head injury, usually an impact or a jolt to the head. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Concussion Symptoms

About half of all concussions go undiagnosed – and therefore, untreated. One concussion puts you at risk for a second, especially if you’re not getting the rest you need for your brain to heal, and sustaining multiple concussions could lead to cumulative effects on your health. That’s why it’s so important to recognize a concussion when it occurs.

Symptoms that could indicate concussions are similar to brain injury symptoms in general and include:

  • Feeling dazed, “in a fog,” or “not yourself”
  • Headache or pressure in the head
  • Neck pain
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Brief, temporary loss of consciousness (ranging from just seconds to a few minutes)
  • Amnesia surrounding the accident or injury
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Personality or mood changes
  • Sensory changes, like sensitivity to light and noise or disorders of smell and taste
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Seizures
  • Problems walking or decreased coordination
  • Physical weakness or numbness
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Slurred speech

For most concussion victims, symptoms last for a week to 10 days – but for some, they can linger for weeks. If you find that your symptoms are sticking around even longer, you might have post-concussive syndrome, which could continue for months.

Concussion Myths

There are a lot of misconceptions about brain injuries, and believing them could make you underestimate the severity of your injury. Don’t buy into these concussion myths:

  1. A concussion isn’t a real brain injury. Concussions fall into the category of mild traumatic brain injuries, as do 75 percent of all TBIs. In fact, BrainLine identifies concussions as “the mildest form of brain injury” – but that doesn’t mean that the injuries aren’t significant or that they won’t have any long-term consequences.

A mild brain injury is a still a brain injury – it still causes serious damage to the organ that controls virtually every function of your body, from thinking to moving. “There is no such thing as a ‘minor concussion,” the American Association of Neurological Surgeons stated.

  1. I didn’t hit my head (or didn’t hit it hard), so I don’t have a concussion.

    It’s true that most victims sustain concussions from a blow to the head, but not all do. A concussion can also result from violent shaking.

    Think of it this way: the brain is composed of soft tissue, but the skull that surrounds it is made of hard bone. A strong force, like a brutal impact or intense shaking, can cause the soft brain to collide with the inside of the skull. This leads to bruising, nerve injury, and blood vessel damage – all of which is invisible, since it’s going on inside your head. You may look fine after suffering a concussion, but the impact or jolt could still affect your brain, even if it didn’t seem to be that forceful.

  2. I didn’t lose consciousness, so I must not have a concussion.

    Only an estimated 10 percent of concussion patients lose consciousness, which means that most people who suffer concussions don’t lose consciousness. That doesn’t make their injury any less serious.

    Also, a loss of consciousness can last for just a few seconds – so little time that you might not recognize that you actually lost consciousness, just that you feel confused.

  3. I don’t play sports (or certain sports), so I’m not at risk for a concussion.

    Sports may be the most publicized risks for sustaining concussions, but they’re far from the only cause. Falls are particularly prone to causing concussions. Motor vehicle collisions also lead to concussions, as do assaults and accidents in which an object strikes a victim. If you ever ride in any kind of motor vehicle or walk in an area where you could fall – as pretty much every individual does at some point – then you could sustain a concussion.

    As for playing sports, you might be surprised to learn that boxing and football aren’t the only athletic activities likely to cause concussions. Soccer, basketball, cheerleading, and even cycling commonly lead to concussions – and even the best headgear on the market can only go so far toward protecting your head.

  1. My test results came back normal, so I don’t have a concussion.

Concussions typically don’t cause any identifiable structural damage to the brain, according to BrainLine, which means that any medical imaging tests your doctor orders are likely to come back negative. The fact that your test results came back normal doesn’t rule out a mild TBI like a concussion – it just means that the injury isn’t something even more severe.

When to Seek Help

You should always see a doctor after any kind of head injury, but symptoms like the following mean that you or your injured loved one needs medical attention right away:

  • Repeated vomiting
  • Weakness, numbness, loss of coordination, or problems walking
  • Seizures
  • Sleeping changes
  • Slurred speech
  • Inability to recognize familiar people and places

What to Expect After a Concussion

Doctors sometimes diagnose different grades of concussions, as outlined by the Brain Injury Association of America:

  • Grade 1: Patient never loses consciousness and their symptoms – including confusion, feeling dazed, and having difficulty following directions – last just 15 minutes or less.
  • Grade 2: Patient never loses consciousness, but develops amnesia (memory problems) around the event that caused the injury. These symptoms continue for longer than 15 minutes.
  • Grade 3: Patient loses consciousness for seconds or minutes and displays physical, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms.

This is just one of the most widely used guidelines for grading concussions. Your doctor may use a different scale or may not grade your concussion at all. Some experts argue that there’s not enough data to support grading concussions in this way and that all of the 19 systems currently in existence are too arbitrary to help.

Regardless of what grade concussion you think you may have, it’s important to see a doctor to determine the extent of the damage and make sure that your injury isn’t something even more serious than a concussion. You may need to undergo medical imaging scans, reflex tests, and questions designed to detect cognitive impairments like memory or concentration problems. Very serious concussions may require hospitalization, while less serious injuries can often be treated with rest, appropriate (doctor-prescribed) medications, and outpatient follow-up care.

It’s a frightening experience when you, your child, or another loved one sustains a concussion. Knowing what symptoms to watch for and what to do next can make this difficult, dangerous experience less traumatizing and make sure you get the help you need when you need it.


The 3 Types of Brain Injuries Don’t Mean What You Think They Mean

By Richard Console on March 17, 2015 - Comments off

Any brain injury has the potential to be serious, but how much do you know about the categories doctors use to describe them? What makes a moderate injury different from a severe one? Does a mild injury translate to an easy recovery and no lasting symptoms? You might be surprised to learn that “mild,” “moderate,” and “severe” might not have as much to do with the patient’s long-term prognosis as you’d expect.

Brain modelWhich part of the brain sustains damage is an important factor in a patient’s prognosis, but it has nothing to do with categorizing the injury. Photo Credit: Flickr.

Doctors classify traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) into three types: mild, moderate, and severe. This system may sound pretty simple. A mild brain injury should be less serious than a moderate one, which is still less serious than a severe one – or so you would think. In reality, though, these terms aren’t as clear as you would expect. Classification depends on the initial symptoms a brain injury victim exhibits and where those symptoms place the patient on a measurement called the Glasgow Coma Scale. They don’t necessarily correspond to the patient’s prognosis and how difficult, or complete, his or her recovery may be.

The Glasgow Coma Scale

The tool doctors typically use to assess the level of neurological injury sustained in a TBI is called the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). Doctors assign a number of points based on the patient’s motor responses (movements), verbal responses (communication or lack thereof), and whether and when they open their eyes. The lower the score, the more severe the brain injury.

Mild Brain Injuries

A mild brain injury is one which falls between 13 and 15 on the GCS. Typically, victims who have sustained a mild brain injury lose consciousness for no longer than a few minutes, while some lose consciousness for just seconds. It’s also possible for these patients to never lose consciousness at all, but instead act confused or disoriented. They may still suffer symptoms such as a headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and remembering things, and dizziness. However, they usually won’t exhibit more symptoms that indicate more serious neurological damage, like slurred speech, convulsions, or numbness and weakness in extremities.

Mild TBIs by Age GroupMild TBIs, like concussions, are unfortunately common among young people. Children under age 15 and individuals aged 15 to 34 have a high likelihood of sustaining mild TBIs. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

A person with a mild brain injury that rates as a 15 on the GCS could be fully awake and alert – however, even an alert patient with a seemingly mild injury should undergo a thorough examination by a medical provider. Some patients experience a lucid interval, in which they may seem to be fine but later deteriorate, in the moments after a brain injury. These patients may have a high GCS score but could still need a life-saving surgery. Without a meticulous examination by an experienced physician, you simply can’t tell if what seems to be a mild injury really is mild, after all.

Moderate Brain Injuries

A score between nine and 12 on the GCS translates to a moderate brain injury. Patients with moderate brain injuries lose consciousness for a longer span of time, typically somewhere between 20 or 30 minutes and six hours (but potentially up to 24 hours). They may suffer many of the same symptoms as you would see in a mild brain injury, but those symptoms could linger around longer – often for weeks. In patients who suffer moderate brain injuries, the results of brain imaging tests will often show an abnormality, while patients with only mild brain injuries may still have normal test results.

Rehabilitation Therapy for a Moderate TBIPatients with moderate TBIs may still need to undergo rehabilitation therapy – and some must relearn how to walk and talk. Photo Credit: Flickr.

Both moderate and severe brain injuries may result in symptoms not usually seen in mild injuries, including dilated pupils, slurred speech, seizures, loss of coordination, and physical weakness or numbness. Despite the severity of their symptoms, patients suffering from moderate TBIs “generally can make a good recovery with treatment and successfully learn to compensate for their deficits,” the Brain Injury Association of America reported. However, the classification of brain injury doesn’t necessarily indicate the patient’s long-term prognosis, and any journey toward recovery could take a great deal of time, hard work, and support.

Severe Brain Injuries

The lowest score a patient can get on the Glasgow Coma Scale is three. Any score between three and eight indicates a severe brain injury. Patients with severe brain injuries lose consciousness for several hours – some experts consider at least six hours of unconsciousness to be the cutoff for severe TBIs, while others consider 24 hours to be the minimum. There is no maximum duration. Comas or unconscious states can last for days, weeks, months, and even years.

Brain Injury CT ScanYears after sustaining a serious TBI, individuals’ brain imaging scans may still show the damage. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

As with moderate brain injury cases, severe brain injuries bring symptoms of a mild injury as well as more serious ones, like slurred speech, seizures, and losses of coordination. Recovery from a severe brain injury can very difficult. Some patients are able to make excellent recoveries, though they may still suffer some permanent cognitive, physical, or sensory impairment. Other patients make less progress. The long-term effect of a brain injury on an individual’s life depends on a number of factors, from which functions the injury does and does not affect to what resources a patient has access to during their work toward recovery.

‘Mild’ Can Be Misleading

Don’t dismiss a mild brain injury as being insignificant just because of the name. As the Brain Injury Association of America aptly puts it, “keep in mind that there is nothing ‘mild’ about a brain injury—the term ‘mild’ brain injury is used to describe a level of neurological injury. Any injury to the brain is a real and serious medical condition.” Even a mild brain injury can cause long-term problems, which means that it’s essential to get a patient help for even a mild injury as soon as possible.

While many patients who suffer mild brain injuries do recover without permanent problems, not all of them do, and some of them find that their journey to rehabilitation takes far longer than others’. “There may be no correlation between the initial Glasgow Coma Scale score and the initial level of brain injury and a person’s short or long term recovery, or functional abilities,” the Brain Injury Association of America reported.

A Prognosis Is Not a Limitation

In many ways, brain injuries remain mysterious. The effects of a TBI vary based on which region(s) of the brain sustained the injury, how serious the impact was, and other factors beyond your control. When doctors tell patients (and family members) their prognosis, they do so to set realistic expectations, not to limit patients’ recovery. There have been inspiring stories of TBI patients learning to walk again, when doctors had believed they never would. I’ve known brain injury survivors who went on to go to medical school and become physicians themselves. One of the most famous presidents in American history suffered a brain injury in childhood, but still went on to lead the nation.

It’s unquestionably important for patients and family members to have realistic expectations for recovery so that they don’t get discouraged, but it’s also important for them to have hope and to celebrate every achievement, no matter how small. Recovery from a brain injury often happens in baby steps, but even these small steps are progress.


3 Tips for Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (Safely)

By Richard Console on March 16, 2015 - Comments off

Tomorrow, St. Patrick’s Day, is the one day of the year when everyone gets to be “a little bit Irish.” Yet sometimes the celebration doesn’t end with the parades, food, folklore, and (responsible) drinking. Too many partyers take the fun a little too far and end up endangering themselves or others. In past years, the St. Patrick’s Day mayhem across New Jersey and Pennsylvania has included drunken car wrecks, joyrides in stolen ambulances, violent domestic disputes, and beatings serious enough to result in attempted murder charges during bar fights.

This year, let’s all try to avoid the criminal charges and safety risks of past St. Patrick’s Days, and instead celebrate responsibly. After all, there’s nothing festive about getting in serious legal trouble, or getting injured. Overindulgence could cost you quite a bit of green if your luck runs out and you wind up getting sued or criminally charged. Follow our top three tips to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day without putting yourself, or your family, in danger.

3 Tips for Celebrating St. Patrick's Day Safely

1. Don’t Drink and Drive

St. Patrick's Day green beerIt doesn’t matter that it’s a special occasion or that you can only get green beer for a limited time – it’s never a safe idea to drive under the influence of alcohol. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Every year, more than 50 Americans die in drunk driving accidents on St. Patrick’s Day alone – and that’s about twice the fatality rate from drunk driving crashes on the average day. I simply can’t stress this point enough. Enjoy every part of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, but celebrate responsibly by planning your trip home even before you go out.

  • Choose a designated driver who will remain sober throughout the night to do the driving for your group.
  • Make alternate travel arrangements. If no one is willing to sit out on the fun, that’s fine – plan in advance to take a taxi, bus, or train home, with the understanding that you don’t get to change your mind later on in the evening. (If you’re afraid you’ll be tempted to drive home, take a taxi or a form of public transportation to your destination, too. That way, you won’t have a car to drive.) Yeah, it will cost you, but not nearly as much as an accident would.
  • If all else fails, stay local and celebrate somewhere in walking distance – but you still must use caution walking home at the end of the night. Pedestrians are frequently killed on their way home from the festivities each St. Patrick’s Day. You don’t have to be behind the wheel to get in an accident while under the influence – wandering into the street or darting across the road without looking both ways could still put you in harm’s way.

2. Watch Out for Those that Ignore #1

St. Patrick's Day crashSadly, there will be people who drink and drive – and, as a result, accidents – no matter how many public safety announcements the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration broadcasts. Photo Credit: Flickr.

If you are driving, or even if you’re just walking, keep a close eye on the motorists around you. Defensive driving is no guarantee that you won’t cross paths with an impaired driver, but paying close attention could at least help you notice the signs of erratic driving early on. If you come across a driver who doesn’t seem to have the vehicle under control, stay as far away from them as possible.

  • Is the erratic driver on your tail? Let them pass you so that you have more control over the situation.
  • If they’re in front of you, slow down and give them plenty of space. That way you have time to stop in case they do something unexpected.
  • You can even take a detour from your route to get away from a driver who is behaving dangerously, if necessary. Taking a couple of extra minutes to get home may just save your life.
  • Once it’s safe to do so, call 911 or your local highway patrol to report the dangerous driving behavior – just make sure you’re not putting yourself or anyone else at risk by doing so. Have a passenger make the call, use hands-free calling, or pull over before dialing.

3. Keep Yourself – and Your Children – Safe in Crowds

St. Patrick's Day ParadeAlthough not an official holiday in most states, St. Patrick’s Day is widely celebrated across the United States, with dozens of major cities holding parades each year. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Parades, parties, and fireworks make St. Patrick’s Day fun for all ages, but the crowds can also be dangerous, especially for small children. Follow these steps to keep the whole family safe:

  • Don’t leave children unattended, even at places you know. If for some reason the crowd becomes frightened, angry, or just too excited, small children could easily get knocked down or hurt, even accidentally, in a chaos.
  • Remind children before the festivities start about the dangers of talking to strangers and what to do if you get separated (things like agreeing on a meeting spot and identifying people, like police officers, who your children can safely ask for help).
  • Stay out of danger zones. At parades, stay safely on the sidewalk so you don’t end up in the path of a float, vehicle, or group of marchers. When viewing fireworks, don’t get too close to the explosions.
  • Crowd safety isn’t only important for children. Remember basic safety tips, like never leaving drinks unattended and following the “buddy system” to make sure everyone in your group gets home safely.

St. Patrick's DaySt. Patrick’s Day is a celebration for the whole family – but it shouldn’t be dangerous. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Don’t count on the luck of the Irish alone to keep your family safe this year. By avoiding impairment, driving defensively, and taking simple precautions in crowds, you can make St. Patrick’s Day a whole lot safer – and that really is something to celebrate.


Is More Funding the Fix for Train Accidents?

By Richard Console on March 13, 2015 - Comments off

Six people died when an SUV stopped on the train tracks in Valhalla, New York, and the train collided with it. Three people, all occupants of a pickup truck, died when their vehicle entered the path of an oncoming train in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana. More than 20 passengers suffered injuries when a train in Oxnard, California, struck a pickup truck that had gotten stuck on the tracks. Just this week, another 55 train passengers were injured in Halifax County, North Carolina, in a crash involving an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer that had, once again, gotten stuck on the tracks.

Trains are among the safer forms of transportation, but you wouldn’t know it from the rash of recent accidents across the country that have made the news over the past month or so. Can throwing money at this problem solve it – and if not, what can?

Train wreck Valhalla, NYEvery three hours, a train wreck occurs – and while relatively few are fatal, some, like the February 3rd crash in Valhalla, NY, are very serious. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Rail Travel Safety

Statistically, train transportation is safer than travel by motor vehicle. Your risk of dying in a collision is 17 times greater when riding in a passenger car or light compared to onboard a train. On average, just 876 people die in train crashes each year, compared to more than 30,000 deaths on the roads that don’t involve locomotives.

Train v. car fatalities

The fatality rate of rail travel hovers somewhere around 0.43 per billion miles – that’s right, billion. Get behind the wheel, instead, and the risk jumps to 7.3 per billion miles. (That’s still not the highest, though –motorcyclists face a rate of 212 fatalities per billion miles.)

Yet, as with the fortunately infrequent incidence of plane crashes, when train accidents do happen, they are likely to cause a great deal of damage. Rarely does a car accident leave 50 people injured, except in the unusual instance of massive multi-car pileups. The train and tracks involved in February’s New York accident will cost $3,700,000 to repair, dwarfing the price tag for property damage in any imaginable car crash. Even when trains are carrying freight instead of human passengers, a derailment could cause oil or volatile chemicals to spill and pollute the environment.

Solving the Railroad Crossing Problem

Despite the statistics that indicate the safety of train transportation, there’s growing concern that railroad crossings – rather than the trains or rails themselves – aren’t safe enough. After all, it’s telling that all of these high-profile crashes were train-vs.-car collisions, where the drivers of motor vehicles found their cars and trucks stuck on the train tracks as the locomotive approached.

In the DeSoto Parish collision, the railroad crossing had “no active warning devices (flashing lights, gates, or bells),” only “a railroad crossing sign and stop sign,” local news channel KTAL-TV reported.

Railroad CrossingCurrent safety measures aren’t enough to prevent wrecks at railroad crossings – especially in locations where a simple sign, without signals and gates, is the only warning. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

The crossing that became the site of the North Carolina accident had already seen four collisions.

In the New York crash, witnesses described the driver of the SUV getting trapped between the gates once they closed, the rear gate striking the vehicle. When she couldn’t back up to get safely out of the way, witnesses said that she drove forward, onto the tracks, where the train hit her vehicle with disastrous results.

Following the New York crash, Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut began pushing for more funding to improve the safety of railroad crossings, where the current signals are “outdated,” MSN News reported. New safety measures could include flashing lights for those crossings that are still designated only by stop signs and road markings, as well as smart gates that rise when they strike a vehicle – instead of staying down and trapping the car like current gates do – to allow the vehicle’s operator more of a chance to get out of the way safely.

Spending more money to upgrade these crossings isn’t the only way to make them safer. The Federal Railroad Administration has urged police to be more proactive in ticketing drivers who violate traffic safety laws and disregard warning signals, according to The Journal News. By forcing drivers to take railroad crossing signals more seriously to avoid fines, law enforcement can hopefully help reduce the number of drivers who put themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, endangering every passenger and worker aboard the train as well as every occupant of their own vehicle.

Of course, drivers don’t have to wait for changes in railroad crossing signals or law enforcement to begin taking train-related traffic laws more seriously. A good rule of thumb is to avoid stopping on the train tracks or within the crossing gates, even if you can’t see or hear a train coming.

Train accidents are tragic situations. Passengers, workers, and motorists die. Surviving victims suffer life-changing injuries. Conductors and other personnel are traumatized by the events. Railways sustain major damage, which can put routes out of commission for long spans of time. Would-be passengers are stranded, unable to commute to work or get home to be with their families. It’s in the best interests of everyone on the roads and on the rails to make railroad crossings safer, no matter what that takes.


Zofran Birth Defect Lawsuits Begin across the Country

By Richard Console on March 12, 2015 - Comments off

Perhaps the only thing that could make you feel sicker than actually experiencing nausea is learning that your anti-nausea medication is what caused your child’s severe birth defect. When you began suffering severe morning sickness in the first trimester of your pregnancy, you took Zofran because you were assured that it was safe. Now, though, reports are going public that the drug has led to heart problems, skull deformities, and deaths in the babies whose mothers used it during pregnancy.

You couldn’t have known that this so-called “safe” medicine would harm your unborn child– but the manufacturer could have and should have known the risks. This dangerous drug put your baby at risk. You can hold GlaxoSmithKline accountable for the pain Zofran caused your family and get the compensation your child will need to treat these devastating birth defects.

Lawsuits for Zofran Causing Birth DefectsZofran is available as a tablet, an oral solution, and an intravenous (IV) injection. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The Illusion of Safety

What’s frightening is that although more than 100,000 women have taken Zofran to treat their severe morning sickness during pregnancy, the drug was never approved for that use. Its actual purpose was to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting that occurs after surgeries or cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy.

Yet many women who took Zofran during their pregnancy were told that the medication wouldn’t harm their child. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers Zofran, also known by the generic name ondansetron, as a pregnancy category B drug. This means that the drug is considered safe for use during pregnancy based on studies done on animals. However, no well-controlled trials among pregnant human subjects were conducted. Instead, the medicine was assumed to be safe based only on the results of research on non-human test subjects.

When it comes to something that could harm your child, you know that assuming a medication is safe is simply not good enough. Now it turns out that a number of serious birth defects have been associated with the drug, including:

  • Life-threatening fetal malformation
  • Fetal death
  • Skull deformities
  • Musculoskeletal deformities
  • Cleft lip
  • Heart murmur
  • Low birth rate
  • Club foot
  • Atrial septal defect, a heart defect
  • Jaundice

Overall, the rate of birth defects increased by as much as 30 percent among pregnant mothers who took Zofran, one study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology reported. This is a serious risk, one that you, like many of the expecting mothers who used Zofran, would never have taken had you only known what the medication could do to your unborn baby.

Pursuing a Zofran Birth Defect Claim

Sadly, this research is too late to protect your baby. You needed to know about the risks before you took the medication, not now, long after the damage has already been done.

However, it’s not too late for you to seek justice for your child. Families in situations like yours are already pursuing the first Zofran lawsuits. They’re holding the manufacturer responsible for the damage the drug has caused and for allegedly failing to warn doctors and patients about research that could indicate a potential risk of birth defects. With experienced pharmaceutical injury lawyers on their side, these families are seeking compensation that could make the medical care their children will need throughout the years to come more affordable.

Your family can get help coping with the results of this birth defect. If you want to talk about your options and what pursuing a claim can do for your child, give Console & Hollawell a call at (856) 778-5500. We’re here for your family.


The Brain Injury Symptoms You Need to Know

By Richard Console on March 11, 2015 - Comments off

Do you know how to recognize a brain injury? If you or someone you love sustains this serious type of injury, the answer could mean the difference between life and death.

HeadacheBrain injuries can result in physical, sensory, and cognitive symptoms. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

A Personal Experience with Head Injuries

In 2001, I was involved in a car accident. I banged my head in the collision. The damage could have been much more serious. I never lost consciousness, never suffered problems moving or breathing. Yet for weeks, I didn’t feel like myself. I felt foggy, “out of it.” These cognitive symptoms can affect every part of your life, and in some cases, they can be quite severe. They can also be difficult to identify and articulate in yourself, especially in milder cases of injury.

I’m lucky that the damage from hitting my head in that car accident years ago was minor. That fogginess and the feeling of being unable to focus went away with time. Some victims aren’t so lucky. Their injuries are more serious. They sustain lasting damage, often across many aspects of their physical and cognitive functioning.

Brain injuries are mysterious traumas. It’s hard to know precisely how an injury will affect a patient, what symptoms the victim will exhibit, how extensive the effects will be, what treatments or therapies may be most effective, and how complete a recovery that patient will make. That’s why it’s so essential to know the symptoms that could indicate a brain injury, and to always seek medical care if there’s any chance that a traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurred.

Physical and Mental Symptoms of a TBI

The brain controls virtually every function of the body, from thinking to moving, from the sense of sight to the sense of smell, from your memory to your cycle of sleeping and awakening. The brain plays a crucial role in actions as basic as breathing and in factors as complex as your personality. When the brain gets injured, every one of these functions could suffer.

Physical Symptoms

  • Loss of consciousness, lasting from a few seconds to hours
  • Persistent headaches or neck pain
  • Nausea or repeated vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in arms, legs, fingers, toes, or any other body part
  • Difficulty walking
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or loss of balance
  • Fatigue, tiredness, or lethargy
  • Changes in sleep patterns, including insomnia, sleeping too much, or having difficulty awakening
  • Dilated pupils in one or both eyes (particularly if pupils are different sizes)
  • Unusual eye movements

Sensory Symptoms

  • Blurred vision
  • Tired eyes
  • Seeing flashing lights
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Ringing in ears
  • Increased sensitivity to sounds
  • Loss of or changes to the sense of smell
  • Loss of or changes to the sense of taste
  • A bad taste in the mouth

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Changes in mood, including depression and anxiety
  • Slurred speech
  • Unusually slow speech, actions, or thought processes
  • Any sort of agitated, combative, or abnormal behavior
  • Aphasia, or difficulty understanding or producing speech

Better Safe than Sorry!

One aspect of TBIs that makes them especially disturbing injuries is that a patient can display no symptoms immediately after the accident, but can still have a life-threatening injury. This phenomenon is called a lucid interval, and it can last for hours.

Some TBI victims may feel “fine” or even improve after regaining consciousness (remember, a loss of consciousness can occur for as brief a time as a few seconds, so to the victim and witnesses, it may seem like it didn’t happen at all). Ultimately, though, their condition will worsen. In patients with epidural hematomas, or bleeding under the skull, a lucid interval can be very dangerous. Victims might not know to seek medical care until it is too late. Lucid intervals are more common than you might think, with an estimated 20 to 50 percent of patients who have suffered an epidural hematoma experiencing them.

Due to the possibility of experiencing a lucid interval and the serious consequences of underestimating a head injury’s severity, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when a brain injury is involved.

Diagnosing and Documenting a Brain Injury

Often, when doctors suspect a brain injury, they will order diagnostic imaging tests like a CT scan, an MRI, or an X-ray so they can see and evaluate any damage to the brain. These scans can help your physician understand what part or parts of the brain suffered the injury and how severe the injury is. You might also undergo a neurological or neuropsychological assessment, in which a specialist called a neurologist or neuropsychologist will ask you to perform tasks that indicate how well you’re functioning cognitively and physically. If you did suffer a brain injury, you will need follow-up care and may have to undergo speech, physical, occupational, or other types of therapy as you work toward recovery.

X-ray of the skullScans can show skull fractures, bleeding, and lesions to brain tissue. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

If your injury happened because of someone else’s negligence, such as a car accident or a fall on an unsafe property, you may decide to pursue a personal injury claim. In this case, your medical records and your doctor’s observations can play a crucial role in documenting the damages you have suffered so that you can get the compensation you deserve.

In a perfect world, no one would ever have to suffer the devastating effects of a TBI. Unfortunately, the causes of head injuries are often beyond our control. I hope you’ll never need to use what you’ve learned from this list, but if you do, recognizing the symptoms of a brain injury early on can mean that you get medical help in time to prevent further damage to your brain – or even save your life.


7 Celebrities Who Suffered Brain Injuries

By Richard Console on March 10, 2015 - Comments off

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are truly among the most devastating injuries a person could suffer in an accident. They cause lasting physical and cognitive damage. Head injuries can make it difficult to recall old memories or remember new information and to communicate as comfortably as you once did, and they can even change your personality. After a brain injury, you might not feel “like yourself” anymore.

What’s particularly scary is that no one is safe. No one is immune. Even fame and fortune offer no protection from a brain injury.

7 Celebrities Who Suffered Brain Injuries

Brain injuries affect people of every age, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic class, religion, political party – and basically, any other factor you could imagine. While some activities, like playing certain sports, can raise your risk of suffering a brain injury, most TBIs stem from tragic occurrences that could happen to anyone: falls, motor vehicle collisions, assaults.  Here are seven celebrities – from beloved comedians and actresses to professional athletes, from award-winning musicians to politicians who made history – who have struggled with the same challenges of brain injuries that every victim faces.

Tracy Morgan

#1 - Tracy Morgan

A particularly devastating accident occurred right here in New Jersey on Saturday, June 7, 2014. A limousine van carrying a group of celebrated comedians was traveling along the New Jersey Turnpike near Cranberry Township when a Walmart tractor trailer struck the limo, causing it to roll over and land on its roof. James “Jimmy Mack” McNair, 62, was killed and 45-year-old comedian Tracy Morgan – along with other passengers – was hospitalized in critical condition. In addition to suffering injuries to his leg, ribs, and nose, the public learned about six months after the collision that Morgan had sustained a “severe brain injury.” For months, he was forced to remain in a wheelchair. When he began to walk again, he had to rely on the help of a cane. As much as he was “fighting to get better,” his attorney admitted in news reports that they “just don’t know” if Morgan will be able to get “back to the Tracy Morgan he once was.” Like most brain injury patients, Morgan’s road to recovery would likely be long, challenging, and at times uncertain.

7 Celebrities Who Suffered Brain Injuries

7 Celebrities Who Suffered Brain Injuries

Stevie Wonder

#2 - Stevie Wonder

Accomplished singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder suffered a head injury in an automobile accident in North Carolina on August 6, 1973. Wonder was a passenger in a car that struck a logging truck. There are conflicting reports regarding what happened next – did a log come loose and fly through the windshield? Or was it the bed of the truck itself that broke the glass and struck the 22-time Grammy winner? Either way, what is certain is that Stevie Wonder spent four days in a coma after the crash. When he awoke, he had suffered a partial loss of his sense of smell, a fairly common phenomena in TBI patients that’s known as anosmia. He also had a large laceration on his forehead. Fortunately, the injuries didn’t keep the musical artist out of commission too long. Wonder was able to return to performing by March 1974.

Jovan Belcher

#3 - Jovan Belcher

The extent of NFL starting linebacker Jovan Belcher’s brain damage didn’t become clear until after his death. In addition to his work on the field – he helped his team make it to the playoffs in 2010 – he was known for his community involvement, including visiting a local military base, promoting programs at the elementary school, and returning to his hometown in New York to give motivational speeches for young people. On December 1, 2012, though, Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins, at home. He then committed suicide with the same gun at the team’s training facility, in front of coaches. Medical examiners later discovered that Belcher suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease that stems from sustaining multiple concussions and results in symptoms like depression and aggression. Sadly, the Kansas City Chiefs player is only one of a number of (current and retired) NFL players in recent years – including Junior Seau in 2012 and Dave Duerson in 2011 – to both commit suicide and be determined to have suffered CTE.

Kevin Pearce

#4 - Kevin Pearce

Football stars aren’t the only athletes at risk for brain injuries – not by a long shot. Kevin Pearce was a professional snowboarder who took home medals after competing in the 2008 and 2009 Winter X Games and was training for the Olympics. Then, one day – December 31, 2009, to be exact – his half-pipe training in Park City, Utah, went horribly wrong. In a life-altering instant, he hit his head on the pipe. Pearce spent nearly a month in critical care at the University of Utah Medical Center and several months at a rehabilitation hospital for TBI patients. Though he no longer competes professionally, he was able to get back on a snowboard in December 2011. Even more inspiring, Pearce has found a way to create some good from his devastating experience. He founded the nonprofit organization LoveYourBrain, which aims to “prevent brain injury, support brain injury recovery, and promote brain health.”

Natasha Richardson

#5 - Natasha Richardson

British actress Natasha Richardson began her film career at the age of four. She appeared in more than 20 movies, a dozen theatre productions, and several television shows. In addition to her calling onstage and onscreen, Richardson was also a committed activist in the fight against AIDS, a mother of two, and the wife of actor Liam Neeson. At age 45, she fell while taking a ski lesson in Quebec. Though she wasn’t wearing a helmet, she reportedly “seemed fine” and sent away the ambulance that had arrived at the scene. Three hours later, Richardson developed a headache and went to the hospital. She died days later from an epidural hematoma, or a buildup of blood inside the skull. One thing that makes Richardson’s tragic story particularly frightening is that she experienced what’s called a “lucid interval” in which she showed no changes in behavior or difficulties communicating. Because nothing seemed out of the ordinary, she didn’t know that she had life-threatening injuries and that she needed medical care – a phenomenon that happens to between 20 and 50 percent of TBI patients.

Gabby Giffords

#6 - Gabby Giffords

Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was doing what politicians are supposed to do – meeting with her constituents so that she could better represent them in the United States House of Representatives – when an assassination attempt nearly ended her life in January 2011. Outside a grocery store, a man in the crowd opened fire, killing six people and injuring 13. The gunman shot Giffords in the head. Fortunately, an intern on the scene was able to perform first aid, and she underwent emergency surgery at the University Medical Center of Tucson later that day. Even more fortunately, though the bullet had fractured her skull and left some of her brain tissue dead, it hadn’t damaged any veins or arteries and it missed the midline region of the brain. Surgeons removed part of her skull, a practice that helps protect the brain from sustaining further damage as it swells after an injury. Giffords spent days in an induced coma and more than a week in critical condition at the hospital. She has since undergone physical, occupational, and speech therapy, relearning to talk, walk, and write with her left hand. Though Giffords resigned from Congress to focus on her recovery, she remains active in public life, advocating for gun control reform. On the third anniversary of the shooting, she was well enough to go skydiving.

Abraham Lincoln | Console & Hollawell

#7 - Abraham Lincoln

Okay, he may not be a modern celebrity, but Lincoln was one of the most famous presidents to ever lead the United States, and he suffered a serious head injury long before he became a national leader. He was just 10 years old when a mule or horse kicked him in the forehead and knocked him unconscious. He was out for hours. Young Lincoln didn’t have the benefit of today’s medical technology, but evidence suggests that he may have fractured his skull. What’s certain is that Lincoln did suffer symptoms characteristic of a traumatic brain injury throughout his life, from impaired vision to depression and even weakness in the facial muscles on his left side. The good – inspiring, even – news is that Lincoln’s brain injury didn’t prevent him from becoming president. While a TBI is often life-changing, it doesn’t have to mean giving up hope.

Tracy Morgan7 Celebrities Who Suffered Brain InjuriesStevie WonderJovan BelcherKevin PearceNatasha RichardsonGabby GiffordsAbraham Lincoln | Console & Hollawell

Celebrities who sustain brain injuries face many of the same challenges as victims whose names aren’t known across the nation or around the world. They suffer injuries in circumstances beyond their control, like accidents and assaults. Tragically, some die from their head injuries, while many survivors find that their whole life has changed in an instant. Celebrities with TBIs experience the frustrating circumstances of being unable to communicate the way they once did, of having to relearn to walk, of suffering losses in memory and mobility. The stories of famous brain injury victims should remind us of the struggles that all TBI patients face, and that our hearts should go out to every patient and family affected by brain injury.

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