Another long boarding tragedy: lessons for riders and drivers!

According to the recent news, another BC teen has been killed by a vehicle while long boarding.

This teen was apparently riding adjacent to his school, shortly after school, and reportedly he was not wearing a helmet.

While even the best helmets can’t prevent all injuries and deaths in a conflict between a boarder and a vehicle (or a motorcycle or bicycle for that matter), without engineering and medical evidence, all we do is speculate that with a helmet, his chances of survival would have been better. While we don’t know if it made a difference in this case, safety suggestions for longboard and skateboard riders would include wearing helmets and reflective garments and riding only in well lit areas, off the portion of the roadway travelled by cars.

For drivers there are vital lessons too. Areas near schools are always well used by students, especially before and after school hours. Regardless of the speed limit, drivers need to exercise caution when driving near schools, pay attention to their speed, and keep a close lookout for children who may be on or near the roadway.

Remember posted speed limits are the maximum allowed for ideal travel conditions. If the conditions are not ideal, and include darkness, rain, fog, or children on the roadway, drivers have a heightened obligation to slow down and keep a careful lookout for children.

The recent death caused by the collision between the long boarder and vehicle will have a life long impact on the family of the deceased teen and the driver.

We have seen many cases involving collisions between riders and vehicles. Every case is different but they share two common factors: they involve great suffering for those involved and are usually preventable. 

 

Brain Condition Caused by Side Effects of Prescription Drugs

Not all brain injury arises from a traumatic event. A number of our clients have developed an often irreversible brain disorder called Tardive dyskinesia.

Tardive means “delayed” and dyskinesia means “abnormal movement.”

Tardive dyskinesia is a serious side effect that can arise as a result of taking certain prescribed medications. It seems that the risk of a patient developing the disorder increases the longer the patient takes the drug. If caught early and the drug is no longer taken, the condition can sometimes be reversed. It can afflict adults and children.

Tardive dyskinesia is actually caused by a brain injury, which can cause permanent involuntary movements such as involuntary repetitive movements of the tongue, lips, face, and extremities. It may include facial disfigurement, tongue thrusting, grimacing, difficulties eating and speaking. In addition, it may cause uncontrollable shaking of the arms and legs, as well as severe breathing difficulty.

Some of our clients have developed tariff dyskinesia following the administration of anti- psychotic medications (including those sometimes prescribed as an adjunctive therapy for depression) like Risperidone, also known as Risperdal, or metoclopramide also called Reglan, which is prescribed for certain stomach problems.

Other drugs which have been associated with the disorder include:

· Chlorpromazine (CPZ)

· Fluphenazine (Prolixin)

· Haloperidol (Haldol)

· Olanzapine (Zyprexa)

· Trifluoperazine

· Flunarizine (Sibelium)

· Prochlorperazine

Sometimes the condition is not preventable, but at other times, the condition is the result of medical malpractice – such as prescribing the wrong drug or prescribing the right drug for too long. Doctors must be very careful to appropriately use prescribed medicines and thoroughly monitor patients for signs of abnormal movements.

Physicians should educate patients and families about the dangers and warning signs of tardive dyskinesia. If they fail to do so, and the condition develops, the patient may have the ability to commence a legal action for compensation.

We have obtained financial settlements for clients who have developed this devastating disorder. If you develop this condition, see your doctor immediately. You can also consider seeking legal advice to find out if you might be able to bring a successful legal action.

Recent longboarding accidents avoidable – Vancouver boarders should put safety first

800px-Longboarding

Last Friday a West Vancouver teenager was critically injured in a longboarding accident when he collided with a vehicle. The teen sustained severe head injuries and remains in intensive care.

This is the fifth longboarding accident to occur in West Vancouver in the past few weeks. These collisions have resulted in serious injuries, including head injury. Some of these accidents appear to be connected to riders losing control of their boards under high speed conditions. Others appear to be connected to a number of factors, including vehicle drivers who are not always paying sufficient attention to the people and circumstances around them. However it appears that at least some of these accidents and injuries might have been prevented.

Read more

Headline Magazine – Spring 2013

The Spring 2013 issue of Headline Magazine is now available. Headline is an excellent source of news, events and research for the BC brain injury community. The magazine is produced quarterly by Mike Rossiter and Janelle Breese Biagioni.

In this issue:

  • The BC Brain Injury Association (BCBIA) and the Pacific Coast Brain Injury Association (PCBIA) Annouce Merger
  • BC Housing Grants Available for Home Adaptations
  • Paul Hardy Receives Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy: Worth Talking About
  • And more

Read more

U.S. Proposal for Brain Research Echoes International Call to Reduce the Burden of TBI

Brain scan imagesLast week, President Obama called for $110 million to fund a brain-mapping study, akin to the human genome project. The President said he will include the funding for the “Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies” (BRAIN) Initiative, in his 2014 budget. Already underway at the National Institutes of Health, it’s hoped that the BRAIN Initiative will eventually yield methods of treating, preventing and curing traumatic brain injury as well as disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy.

For traumatic brain injury this initiative has the potential to:

a) Advance our knowledge of the mechanisms of brain injury and recovery, and;

b) Help develop better diagnostic tools and treatments for brain injury.

This is one of several key international investments into traumatic brain injury research. The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), in collaboration with the European Commission (EC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has set up the International Initiative for Traumatic Brain Injury Research (InTBIR). Established in 2011, this initiative aims to advance clinical traumatic brain injury research, treatment and care in order to “improve outcomes and lessen the global burden of traumatic brain injury by 2020.”

TBI is the leading cause of disability in individuals under the age of 45. The annual incidence of TBI is 500 per 100,000 people in North America and Europe and is steadily increasing due to an increased number of motor vehicle accidents, particularly in low- and middle- income countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that deaths from road traffic incidents (primarily due to TBI) will double between 2000 and 2020 and TBI will rise to the third leading cause of global mortality and disability by 2020 (WHO, 2009).

Not only does TBI have devastating effects on survivors and their loved ones, but also results in high socio-economic costs to society. As a result TBI has become one of the priorities in the national research agendas of many countries.

 

“Surviving a Car Crash” 4-part BBC Horizon Series

BBC Two’s Horizon program (2010-11)  investigates how the latest advances in technology, medicine, psychology and even extreme sports are transforming our chances of survival on the roads. The second episode in this series is particularly interesting as it goes in detail on the latest development in brain injury care.

Watch the series on YouTube here:

 

New technology aims to get TBI survivors back in the driver’s seat

For many people, driving represents freedom and independence. For survivors of traumatic brain injuries driving has been identified as a key component of achieving autonomy and re-integration into the community. Unfortunately, many TBI survivors (and indeed people with various disabilities) have residual cognitive impairments that impact their ability to drive safely and defensively, among other activities. Such impairments can affect:

  • Visual scanning
  • Spatial perception
  • Attention focusing
  • Problem solving
  • Self-awareness of individual shortcomings and driving abilities (anosognosia)

While many technologies help the physically disabled drive, no technology exists to help drivers overcome the above cognitive impairments to enable safe driving… until now.

In recent months, the Shepherd Centre assistive technology team, the Georgia Tech Sonification Laboratory, and Centrafuse™ have collectively developed an in-vehicle assistive technology (IVAT) – an in-dash, touch screen computer system that uses driver interaction and positive reinforcement to improve and sustain behaviours that are known to increase driver safety.

The use of this type of technology stems from a key observation made by researchers that TBI survivors tend to be better able to remain focused on the driving task in the presence of the evaluator than when driving solo.

In order to replicate the experience of driving with an evaluator, the Shepherd Center team designed a device they called the Electronic Driving Coach (EDC), a three-button box that rests on the driver console. Each of the buttons is labelled to match the three tasks that an individual needs to perform in order to be a safe driver: mirror scanning, speed maintenance, and space monitoring. Every time the individual noticed himself practicing one of these tasks, he or she was to push the corresponding button. The EDC would then give the driver an auditory positive feedback. The researchers found that

“After 3, 6, and 12-month re-evaluations, the individual’s driving skills have been rehabilitated to a much safer level as evidenced by continued evaluations and the discontinuation of traffic violations”

The researchers recognize the limitations posed by the physical in-dash box, and are continuing to evaluate IVAT in both simulators and on-road vehicles with the hope that this technology will not only help TBI survivors, but also other groups of cognitively disabled peoples.

To find out more about driving after a traumatic brain injury, click here.


Read the full, original article here:
“In-Vehicle Assistive Technology (IVAT) for Drivers Who Have Survived a Traumatic Brain Injury” By J. Olsheski, B. Walker, and  J. McCloud

“There’s a lot to lose by not wearing a bike helmet”

image of bike commuter wearing helmetWhile reading the paper this past weekend, I came upon an article addressing two issues that are near and dear to my life:  cycling and brain injury.  I commute by bike approximately 14 km each way every day to our offices where I then represent individuals with mild, moderate and severe brain injuries.  Reading this article, in which Mr. Cox described being hit by a street race 25 years ago at the age of 31, really struck home:  “There’s a lot to lose by not wearing a bike helmet.”  Although I have been fortunate enough not to have had any major altercations with vehicles in my cycling career, it is something I think about every day as I put on my helmet and turn on the 4 lights on my bike.  Wearing a helmet is required according to section 184 of the Motor Vehicle Act, and for good reason.  Time and time again, I hear about catastrophic injuries to cyclists and think that at least some of them may have been avoided had the rider been properly equipped and wearing a helmet.  As Mr. Cox quotes, and as is sometimes the experience of our clients:

Cyclists who flout the law by not wearing a helmet might lose more than just their lives – they might lose who they are.  They might become so impossible to live with that all they love leave them.

Certainly, if you or a family member is in this situation where a brain injury is affecting every aspect of your life and you require legal assistance, please contact us.  Otherwise, be safe out there and wear your helmet!

Observations from the SickKids Centre for Brain and Behaviour Conference

Image of baby with brain injury

SickKids Centre for Brain & Behaviour 2nd Biennial Conference
– Brain Injury in Children

July 12 – 14, 2011 – Toronto, Canada

Day one of the conference was dedicated to a review of issues relating to birth injury and neonatal encephalopathy. We had some excellent speakers involved in leading edge research in this area, many of whom suggest that there is hope for families of babies who will be born with birth asphyxia. New research is showing that treatments like hypothermia, if provided quickly following neonatal injury, reduces neuro-developmental disability in survivors of encephalopathy. The bad news is many hospitals in Canada are still not using hypothermia despite numerous studies showing its effectiveness in decreasing infant deaths and the progression of injuries.

There is continuing controversy around what will be included in the new definitions of encephalopathy – the present ACOG and AAP standards require that an infant suffer from cerebral palsy before that baby will be included. Neuro-imaging is crucial to determine the type of injury and the timing of the injury and will be vital when we try to prove that an infant’s injury occurred during labour and was preventable. Seizures are an ongoing problem. Research has shown that most of the babies with seizures are not recognised as having seizures because they are happening “sub-clinically” and not observable. Those babies still need treatment so that these seizures do not cause further injury. Careful monitoring with EEG’s is required for all babies who are at serious risk of seizures. Visual observation can miss as many as 90 percent of all seizures!

Brain Injury as a Result of Prescribed Medications

Not all brain injury arises from a traumatic event. A number of our clients have developed a often irreversible brain disorder called tardive dyskinesia (tardive means “delayed” and dyskinesia means “abnormal movement”). Tardive dyskinesia is a serious side effect that can arise as a result of certain prescribed medications. Closely related conditions include tardive dystonia and tardive akathisia. It seems that the risk a patient of developing the disorder increases the longer a patient takes the drug. If caught early and the drug is no longer taken the condition can sometimes be reversed.

Tardive dyskinesia is actually a “brain injury”, which causes involuntary facial movements that can include involuntary repetitive movements of the tongue, lips, face, and extremities. It may include facial disfigurement, tongue thrusting, grimacing, difficulties eating, speaking and may interfere with usual activities of daily living.

Some of our clients developed tariff dyskinesia following the administration of anti psychotic medications, including those sometimes prescribed as an adjunctive therapy for depression like Risperidone, also known as Risperdal, or metoclopramide also called Reglan, which is prescribed for certain stomach problems.

Other drugs which have been associated with the disorder include:

  • Chlorpromazine (CPZ)
  • Fluphenazine (Prolixin)
  • Haloperidol (Haldol)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Trifluoperazine
  • Flunarizine (Sibelium)
  • Prochlorperazine

Sometimes the condition is not preventable, but at other times, the condition is the result of medical malpractice- such as prescribing the wrong drug or prescribing the right drug for too long. Doctors must be very careful to limit the use of these drugs and thoroughly monitor patients for signs of abnormal movements. Physicians should educate patients and families about the dangers and warning signs of tardive dyskinesia. If they fail to do so and the condition develops, the patient may have the ability to commence a legal action for damages.

Seek experienced legal advice.