June 2013

Talk About Traumatic Brain Injury! Skull from 1200s Changes Scientists Thinking About Medieval Medicine…

June 30, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

When most people think about traumatic brain injury research, they fail to recognize that researchers themselves often understand very little about the history of TBI science.

Myths abound both at the level of subtle detail and at the level of large scale treatment.

For instance, many people believe that football related concussions definitively cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — and, indeed, this blog has published many articles suggesting that that link could be vigorous. But, to date, there has never been a thorough, double-blind, well controlled study to prove that thesis.

Scientific discoveries have a fascinating way of changing our perspective on TBI. Consider, for instance, the recent discovery of a mummy head specimen from the 1200s. Philippe Charlier, a forensic scientist at University Hospital of France, says that researchers found a specimen dating back to the early 1200s — a man’s head that was preserved using surprisingly advanced preparation. According to Charlier, the preparer used cinnabar mercury, lime, and bee’s wax to preserve the veins and arteries in the head. The specimen will soon be on display at the Parisian Museum of the History of Medicine.

Here’s what’s really interesting! It’s a revelation that a “Dark Ages” physician would be able to preserve such a specimen in such exquisite detail, given our stereotypical beliefs about what the Dark Ages were like. It turns out that many of our beliefs about what happened during the period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Advent of the Renaissance were misguided.

According to an article on Life Science about this phenomenon — “grotesque mummy head reveals advanced medieval science” from March 5th — “science had already been advancing swiftly starting way back in the 13th Century.” Copernicus, for instance — the guy who popularized the revolutionary idea that the earth revolved around the sun and not vice-versa — “took some of his thinking on the motion of the earth from Jean Buridan, a French priest who lived between about 1358 … but Copernicus credited the ancient Roman poet Virgil as his inspiration.”

Why is this all important?

It’s important to consider the historical context of traumatic brain injury science, because as someone who is recovering from an injury, you may be currently laboring under false beliefs about what you need to do — or what you should be doing — to manage the injury and its aftermath, particularly as it relates to compensation and liability.

The team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo is ready to help you understand the dynamics of your case, so that you feel more empowered and less unsteady about how to proceed. Call us today at (877) 529-1222 for a free consultation about your Charlotte TBI matter.

How Come No One Is Taking My North Carolina Concussion Seriously?

June 27, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you suffered a concussion in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina, most people will be sensitive to your situation will provide support, good wishes, and care. But not everyone will understand your dilemma or be sensitive to your medical needs. Many people just don’t understand — or at least don’t fully understand — what it means to suffer a concussion.

As a result, they may encourage victims to return to vigorous activity before such activity is safe. For instance, a high school football coach may “shrug off” a young linebacker’s complaints of headache and dizziness and encourage him to go return to a big game.

As a result of that careless decision, the poor young kid can suffer a second impact injury, which can lead to edema, permanent neurological dysfunction, stroke, and even death. On a less dramatic note, subtle actions that demonstrate a lack of compassion or understanding can also cause harm. For instance, let’s say that your young son fell off a wall and conked his head. For the past several days, he has been resting in bed for 15 hours a day. You understand that “he is not feeling good,” but you also want him to go back to school and “shake it off.” So you might gently encourage him to stop resting so much and “rejoin the world.”

Even though you may not intend to do any harm, if you rush him through the healing process, you can make rehabilitation longer, more painful, and more fraught.

Conversely, careless/uncaring people can make errors of neglect or omission that can redound to horrible effect. For instance, in the situation described above, maybe the child really needs to see a doctor immediately because he’s suffering bleeding in the brain or some other horrible symptom. If a caregiver fails to take action to get proper medical help within the proper timeframe, irreversible damage can occur.

These points may seem obvious. But many people who suffer brain injuries accidentally feed into this behavior by “striving to please” or forcing themselves too hard. Now is not the time to worry about your boss, your coach, your teacher, or your friends. Now is the time to worry about brain injury — healing from the trauma and getting the rest and astute medical care you need.

To remove at least one worry from your plate, consider getting in touch with the Charlotte traumatic brain injury law firm of DeMayo Law today. We can begin to investigate your case and make sure that you are situated for a powerful legal response, so that you can rest a little easier. Call us now at (877) 529-1222 for thorough help.

53 Members of Congress Want to Investigate Whether IED Blast Induced Traumatic Brain Injuries May Be Sparking Suicide Epidemic in the Armed Forces

June 24, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Improvised explosive devices, also known as IEDs, were used against American service personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq in the wars over the past decade. New evidence suggests that these hidden bombs not only caused traumatic brain injury but also increased the likelihood of suicidal behavior.

Recently, 53 members of the US Congress sent a letter to Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, asking Congress to figure out what to do about the rash of suicides, possibly induced by IED traumatic brain injuries. Per the letter: “Evidence suggests that blast injuries, including but not limited to those causing damage to vision or hearing, can have a severe psychological impact…that can play a major contributing role in suicides.”

The prevailing theory is that the psychological trauma of combat causes mental distress that can lead to suicide. The alternative view that the bipartisan members of Congress want to investigate is that the IED explosions, in and of themselves, change the structure of the brain and make people more prone to suicide.

In other words, it’s not psychological stress. It’s a neurological problem–a physical, biochemical problem. According to the spokesman for the Blinded Veterans Association, Thomas Zampieri, “I’ve talked to a lot of neurologists, military neurosurgeons and trauma surgeons who have all started to ponder if the IEDs that have caused the TBIs are the real
cause of the suicides, versus the traditional approach that suicides are all caused by the psychological stresses of combat.”

According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, more than 266,000 troops suffered brain injuries in combat between 2000 and 2012–coincidental with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as special military operations around the world and training exercises.

If you or someone you love was hurt in combat or in training, and you want answers about what legal actions you can take regarding your traumatic brain injury case, please get in touch with the DeMayo Law team today for thorough, strategic assistance.

Scary New Research about Traumatic Brain Injury in Colleague Football Players: Even If You Don’t Get Concussed, You Can Still Sustain Serious Damage

June 20, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

New research produced by the Cleveland Clinic suggests that traumatic brain injury in college athletes may lead to a pathological process–long term harm–even when players don’t suffer diagnosable concussions.

The researchers looked at data collected from 67 collegiate players who played during the 2011 season. No player experienced a diagnosable concussion. However, 40 of the 67 players who got hit hard had high levels of an antibody that is associated with traumatic brain injury. The researchers sent these athletes to University of Rochester Medical Center for brain scans, where scientists analyzed them using a double blind analysis. Shockingly, abnormalities correlated with perturbed brain health were found in the brain scans of these non-concussed players.

According to the CDC, nearly half of all high school football players get concussed every season. College football players suffer similar rates of concussion.

This new research is quite alarming.

The implications are both shocking and potentially game changing. What if further research does bear out that the act of playing “regular” football is somehow fundamentally dangerous? How should we reform our institutions? Can the game itself be saved? Or will we just have to accept that student athletes will suffer some brain damage for the sake of
sport they love?

While much of our attention has been on the NFL–and for good reason, given the flood of new data we have on chronic traumatic encephalopathy–only 1,700 people play professional football.

Meanwhile, over 20,000 men play college football, and many more play high school football. If these players are suffering brain injury–or at least the beginnings of brain injury–without even getting concussed… that suggests that football may be more dangerous than even many alarmists have been suggesting.

The NCAA’s Chief Medical Officer, Bryan Hainline, issued a statement affirming the League’s commitment to the health and well being of student athletes: “we are actively collaborating with members, institutions and research facilities to improve with the health and safety of student athletes.”

If you or your child got “his bell rung” at a football game in Raleigh, Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina, you want answers. How can you afford to pay your medical bills? What should you do next in terms of bringing legal action–or at least researching legal action?

Our Charlotte traumatic brain injury law firm can help you answer those questions in a systematic, compassionate and confidential way. Call our offices now to get genuinely compassionate and thorough help with your situation.

Putting the Pieces of Your Traumatic Brain Injury Together: When You Can’t Remember What Happened

June 17, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Here’s a very common problem with North Carolina traumatic brain injury cases.

A person gets hurt in a car accident, slip and fall, workplace disaster, or a fight. But because of the brain injury, the person can’t recall the events that led to the injury in an accurate, linear, and coherent way.

So what you do?

The solution must be concocted on a case-by-case basis. Certain strategies might be useful in some cases but not others. For instance, let’s say that you got hurt at a Charlotte construction site, when a coworker switched off a piece of machinery while you were riveting. The jolt from that action set you tumbling off your platform to the ground. In that case, perhaps video footage recorded the fall, or other tracking devices might have gleaned evidence that can be used forensically to piece together the situation. Or maybe a coworker or other witness saw you fall.

What about situations in which the injured person gets hurt, and no one sees what happened?

This happens a lot with car accident cases. For instance, a person might drive solo on a wind-y Raleigh street during the middle of the winter, slip on a patch of black ice, and hit a tree. The driver might get a serious brain injury and be unable to remember why he slipped. In this kind of case, indirect forensic techniques could help to discern the cause of the accident.

For instance, maybe the tire patterns on the road could offer clues about why the car slipped on ice. Or maybe a detailed examination can reveal that the braking system failed.

The point is that, as a victim or friend/family member of a TBI victim, you don’t really need to worry about the details of the forensics as much as you do need to worry about obtaining effective legal counsel as early as you can in the process, so that that counsel can begin an immediate investigation and assemble the proper forensics.

To that end, get in touch with the DeMayo Law team today, so we can help you get a handle on your situation and build an effective case going forward.

Choosing the Right Language–Should You Call It a “Traumatic Brain Injury” or “Bump to the Head” or What?

June 13, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

What exactly should you call your traumatic brain injury, and why should the language matter?

Whether you got hit in the head at football practice, jarred by an automobile accident or injured in a slip and fall outside a Charlotte boutique, you have some sort of head injury accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fatigue, disorientation, memory loss, and other troubling signs.

But does it really matter what you call it? Is semantics a waste of time here?

Not necessarily.

The language that we use to talk about our problems can powerfully influence the steps that we take (or do not take) to manage our situations. The use of strong language like “traumatic brain injury” may lead you (and your caregivers) to take the situation seriously, act aggressively, and be extra resourceful.

On the other hand, if you use more vanilla language like “I got hit in the head” or “I fell down and bonked my head”–then you and other people might not take the situation as seriously.

When we use different words–“laceration” as opposed to “cut,” for instance–we seek out different kinds of help, and we get different kinds of service.

Obviously, you don’t want to overinflate your injury. Perhaps you only suffered a mild concussion (or “TBI”). But when it comes to head injuries, it’s far better to be overly cautious than overly casual. The consequences of erring in the direction of “being too cavalier” could be horrific. If you talk in overly gentle terms about your head injury, you might be tempted to go back to work early and put yourself at risk for a second concussion.

Conversely, if you err on side of being too cautious, you might be more neurotic and stressed in the short term, but that neuroticism will pass eventually without any long-term consequences.

Whether you suffered a substantial TBI or an “on the bubble” concussion case, get in touch with the team at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo for a free consultation today.

 

How Much Will You Need to Be Involved with Your North Carolina Mass Tort Lawsuit?

June 9, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

You are on offense. As someone who was injured (or whose loved one was injured), you are seriously considering filing a North Carolina class action or mass tort lawsuit — or an independent personal injury action.
On the other hand, you’re dubious. The thought of getting wrapped up in some complex legal action fills you with dread, because you don’t want to get roped into being a “lead plaintiff.” You want to forget about the traumatic experience — not have to relive it for months or years.

So how much, exactly, will you have to be involved in your legal fight?
The answer depends.

Obviously, if you choose to be a lead plaintiff — and if you’re pursuing a massive case against a huge company that could settle for tens of millions of dollars — then you obviously need to be pretty involved. However, the process is less involved and less confusing than you believe.
Assuming you pick a North Carolina class action law firm that’s a good fit for your needs — that shares your values and vision, and that has the experience and resources to argue effectively on your behalf — you won’t have to do much at all. That’s one of the beautiful things about finding good legal representation: When you’re well represented, you won’t have nagging questions distracting you from your day-to-day business and from the important work of recovery. You can focus all your attention on getting better, on fixing your financial problems, and on healing yourself psychologically.
While you ultimately need to “do more work” as a plaintiff in a class action or personal injury lawsuit than would if you “did nothing” about your case, the peace of mind that you’ll get will undoubtedly cancel out the extra work that you need to do.
For instance, if you don’t do anything, you might waste hours or even days’ worth of your time ruminating about aspects of your case or aspects of how to handle an insurance company.
That’s time you will never get back — time that you could spend relaxing or being productive.
Also — it should go without saying — but if you WIN your case, you should get well compensated for your injuries and damages. You will receive nothing, if you do nothing.
In summary: If you’ve been hesitant about connecting with an attorney, that hesitancy makes all the sense in the world. However, you might find it worthy to examine what’s at to the root of that hesitancy. Are you just scared about the time commitment? Because if so, that fear really doesn’t make objective sense. If not, probe deeper to understand what’s really going on — why, fundamentally, are you resistant to getting the help that you really need?

A Longer-Term View of Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery

June 4, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Recovering from a traumatic brain injury in Charlotte or anywhere can be a grueling ordeal, and you may find yourself beset by medical setbacks, emotional problems, and financial peril.

In the hours and days following a concussion or other event, everything is very “touch and go.” Hopefully, you have already been to a physician or emergency medical technician to talk about your needs and get a good plan of care. If not, stop reading this article and go do that at once!

If so, you will want to monitor your mental state, physical state, and behavior and be in close contact with friends and relatives who can take care of you and help you fulfill your duties, while you rest.

Of course, when you and your support team get mired in the details of this care, you may get overly short-term focused. You need to concentrate on healing and preventing further damage.

But you also want to keep at least some attention on the long-term horizon.
Why? Because right now–some of you are in the very early stages after TBI–the legal processes that you do or do not put in place can have ramifications that can affect you for years or decades.

For instance, if a doctor sees you right away and treats you with an effective TBI drug that normalizes glucose absorption in the brain or reduces edema or swelling, you can potentially ward off long-term brain damage. The difference between getting this treatment and not getting it is profound, especially when you extrapolate over the long term.

Likewise, the efforts that you make (or your friends and family make) right now regarding your legal case can also have epic ramifications.

If you’re able to collect evidence right now (before such evidence gets lost or destroyed), you may be able to build a more compelling case to get compensated, and that could mean the difference between no settlement and a six-figure settlement that pays you in perpetuity for the rest of your life.

Connect with the DeMayo Law team now, so that we can help you focus on the long-term legal “stuff” and allow you to rest and recover with full peace of mind.

Really Sad North Carolina Mass Tort News

June 2, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Documenting North Carolina class action and mass tort lawsuits can be a sad and dispiriting exercise.

The lengths to which some companies will go to obfuscate the truth and to strive for profits at the expense of the wellbeing of human beings can shake one’s faith in humanity.

Consider, for instance, the recent resolution of a seriously twisted case out of New Jersey. A generic drug manufacturer, Par Pharmaceutical, pled guilty to charges to end civil and criminal investigations into its behavior. The drug maker will pay $45 million as punishment for marketing an AIDS drug, Megace ES, illegally for “off label uses.”

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) had allowed the drug maker to sell Megace ES to treat anorexia and unexplained weight loss in AIDS patients. But the company tried to expand its consumer base by selling the drug to elderly people who didn’t have AIDS.

According to a U.S. attorney who worked on the case, Paul Fishman, “Par admitted to choose to ignore [the FDA approval process for new uses of medications] in pursuit of more sales and greater profits … the conduct was wrong and went on for a long period of time.”

The company sent sales forces to call on nursing homes and hospice facilities to sell the drug. They also sought out confidential patient data to find people who could be switched to the expensive drug. According to plaintiff’s lawyers, Par refused to acknowledge the potential safety effects on patients because “there is little profit to be made by marketing the drug lawfully, due to advancements in HIV and AIDS treatments which drastically reduced the on label patient population.

It’s really a shame that we need lawyers and whistleblowers to watchdog large pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment manufacturers.

In an ideal world, these companies would do due diligence and take it upon themselves to vet their products and ensure patient health and wellbeing over their own profitability. After all, if you’re going in business to help people manage their medical conditions, your fundamental obligation is to your customers.

Unfortunately, the real world is full of disappointing situations.

If you or someone you love was harmed as a result of some company’s negligence, carelessness, omission, or other malfeasance, the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo would be happy to advise you. Please call us at (877) 529-1222 to get a confidential, free evaluation of your case. Let us help you ensure justice and gain some peace of mind.

 
 

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