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Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) contribute to about 30% of all injury deaths; in fact 153 persons in the US die every day from injuries where TBI was a factor.  Depending upon the severity of injury, survivors can face effects of TBI for a few days or the rest of their lives.  TBI is an injury to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain.  Interestingly, not all head injuries result in TBI. 

Males represent 78.8% and females 21.2% of all reported TBI accidents.  The leading causes of TBI are:  falls, being struck by an object, and intentional self-harm.  50-70% of all TBIs are the result of motor vehicle accidents.

Of all traumatic deaths, deaths from head injuries account for 34% of all traumatic deaths.  Beginning at age 30, mortality risk after head injury begins to increase.  Persons age 60 and older have the highest death rate after TBI, primarily because of falls.

 

Reference:  “Facts About Traumatic Brain Injury”  https://www.brainline.org/article/facts-about-traumatic-brain-injury.

Statistically speaking, TBI is an injury of young persons, since incidence rates peak between the ages of 16-25.  It is estimated that there are more than 5 million people in the US with TBI.  As a result of the young age of TBI onset and the sheer numbers of persons with TBI, the economic and personal cost is great. 

Studies conducted show that 50% of persons with severe TBI do not return to the vocational roles they had before the injury.  Additionally, 20% of those with what was categorized as mild-TBI were unemployed.  It is estimated that $56 billion dollars annually are spent as a result of failure to return to work after TBI. 

The challenge to return to work is great because the TBI person with more severe injury have emotional issues and problems with memory, sequencing and judgement.  They may experience fatigue, be dependent on others for activities of daily living as well as transportation. 

The following may aide in the return to work after TBI:

  • Vocational Rehabilitation services early in the rehabilitation process
    • On-the-job training
    • Counseling and guidance
    • Job placement services
    • Supportive work environment
    • Cognitive skills training
    • Provide training for and use of assistive technology

Unfortunately many people with TBI fail to return to work.  It is hard to determine why that is as studies are not well-defined, do not use universal definitions for terms, and often do not define a specific path (or pathways) of success with regard to return to work.

Reference:  “TBI Research Review:  Return to Work After Traumatic Brain Injury.”  https://www.brainline.org/article/tbi-research-review-return-work-after-traumatic-brain-injury

A skull fracture is defined as any break in the cranial bone.  There are many types of skull fractures, but they all result from one major cause and that is an impact or blow to the head that’s strong enough to break a bone.  The types include: 

  • Linear – a break resembling a thin line or crack

  • Depressed – a break in or crushing injury

  • Basilar – occurs at the base of the bran sometimes causing leakage of cerebral spinal fluid

Skull fractures are not always easily seen.  Following an impact or blow to the head some symptoms which may indicate fracture include:  swelling and/or tenderness around the area of impact, facial bruising, bleeding from the nostrils or ears. 

For mild fractures, pain medication may be the only necessary treatment, but neurosurgery may be required for more serious fractures.

Defined as an accumulation of blood within the brain or between the brain and skull.  They form when a head injury causes blood to accumulate in the brain or between the brain and the skull. 

Here are the different types of hematomas:

  • Epidural – a blood clot outside of the brain but under the skull

  • Subdural – located between the brain and the dura

  • Intracerebral – a ruptured blood vessel in the brain that causes bleeding

  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage – bleeding under the arachnoid layer

  • Intraventricular Hemorrhage – bleeding into ventricles of the brain

Diagnosing intracranial hematoma can be difficult because sometimes people with head injury can seem fine.  And sometimes they are if the hematoma is small and produces no signs or symptoms.  However, symptoms can appear or worsen days or even weeks after the injury, which is why following a head injury the person should be watched for neurological changes, to have intracranial pressure monitored, and undergo repeated head CT scans. Sometimes surgery is required to drain the blood.

2/14/2019 in Medical Conditions

The Cerebrum is the largest part of the brain.  Divided into two hemispheres, the outermost layer, the cerebral cortex, has four lobes:

  • Occipital used for processing visual information

  • Temporal, one close to each ear, used for auditory processing, but may also be involved in emotion, learning and pronunciation/ learning a new language.

  • Frontal used for solutions to complex tasks, voluntary movements, forming complete sentences when talking and personality traits

  • Parietal for general sensation and feeling

 

The Cerebellum is located behind the top part of the brain stem where the spinal cord meets the brain and is made up of two hemispheres.  It receives information from the sensory systems, spinal cord and other parts of the brain and then regulates motor movement.  The cerebellum coordinates voluntary movement such as balance, coordination, posture, and speech, resulting in smooth and balanced muscular activity.

The Brainstem lies underneath and behind the cerebellum.  It controls the flow of messages between the brain and the rest of the body.  The brainstem also controls basic bodily functions such as breathing, swallowing, heart rate, blood pressure, consciousness, and state of sleepiness.

Surveillance can be a good way to move a case to closure.  The success of the investigation depends on both the adjuster and the investigator’s ability to gather accurate and reliable information.  Arm your investigator with as much information as you can provide.  Here are some tips to assure effective surveillance:

  • Select an investigation company that has experienced investigators with a proven success record.   
  • Before the investigation begins, conduct a Social Security trace, ANI trace and social media check.  Make sure these findings are communicated to the investigator.
  • Start off with two full days of surveillance starting at 6:30AM.  Based on the results after two days, decide whether further time is warranted.
  • Always have surveillance conducted on days when the claimant has a medical appointment.

For every 6 million occupants in Low Speed Rear Impact Collisions: 

  • About 3 million will be injured (about the population size of South Carolina).
  • About 1.5 million will have chronic pain (about the population size of Nebraska).
  • About 300,000 of these become disabled usually due to pain (about the population size of Wyoming).
  • Nearly half of all chronic neck pain in America is due to car crashes—mostly Low Speed Rear Impact collisions. 
  • About 9% of all Americans suffer from chronic neck pain due to Low Speed Rear Impact Collisions. 
  • Children are at 2/3 the risk of adults.

Information provided by the Spine Research Institute of San Diego

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome is to the foot and ankle as what carpal tunnel syndrome is to the wrist and hand.  Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the posterior tibial nerve (running along the ankle and foot) becomes compressed or damaged, causing inflammation of the tarsal tunnel.  This condition results from prolonged walking, running, standing or exercising, traumatic injury, or no apparent reason. 

Often Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome responds well to conservative treatment.  With the goal of treatment being to reduce inflammation and pain, rest, ice, compression and elevation are often recommended along with the use of over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (acetaminophen or ibuprofen).  If this is not effective, injection therapy using corticosteroids and local anesthetics can be tried.  Orthopedic devices and corrective shoes may assist in reducing foot pressure.  Exercises learned in physical therapy can help reduce symptoms by stretching and strengthening connective tissues and mobilizing the tibial nerve and opening surrounding joint space reducing compression. 

Surgery can be performed for severe or chronic cases that do not respond to any other forms of treatment.  The procedure releases (or decompresses) the tarsal tunnel with a recovery period of 6 weeks up to several months.  Surgery is successful in about 50%-90% of cases.

Fortunately, tarsal tunnel syndrome is a rare disorder.

There are several areas of research that may prove successful; stem cell injections, a Collagen Meniscal Implant (CMI), and 3-D research.

In a clinical trial of stem cell injections for meniscal tears, only 15% of participants experienced an increase in meniscal tissue at one year following treatment.  This could be because without healthy cartilage to pad the bones that meet in the knee joint, the bones become battered and misshapen and a new meniscus can’t fix that damage.  So, it would make sense to try stem cell medicine on people with new injuries who do not have the damage to their bones.

The Collagen Meniscal Implant, a biological completely absorbable implant made from highly purified collagen with a porous structure showed some promise.  This device is attached arthroscopically to fill the void resulting for damaged or lost meniscal tissue and makes use of the body’s own ability to re-populate the structure with its own cells over time to regenerate the normal structure of the meniscus.  There is data showing benefit in chronic meniscal injuries for the right patient.

In a study successfully conducted on sheep, a meniscus was regenerated with a 3-D printer, infused with human growth factors that prompt the body to regenerate the lining on its own. It begins with MRI scans of the intact meniscus in the undamaged knee.  The scans are converted into a 3-D image which is used to drive a 3-D printer.  A scaffold in the exact shape of the meniscus down to a resolution of 10 microns (less than the width of a human hair) is produced within 30 minutes.  This research is preliminary but it demonstrates potential for meniscus regeneration.

However, the reality is at present there’s little that orthopedists can do to regenerate a torn knee meniscus.  Small tears can be sewn back in place, but larger tears have to be surgically removed which helps with pain and swelling, but leaves the knee without its natural shock absorber.  There are three viable options on the horizon, but they are still in the research stages and it could be years before they are offered to the general population.

The best way to obtain a good recorded statement is to have a predetermined process for planning and preparation of the interview.  Here are some tips to conduct a thorough interview:

  • Be a Good Listener – Thoroughly listen to what is being said, do not think about your next question or what you’re going to say next.  Clear your head and simply listen to what is being said.  You may pick up on new information that would otherwise not be communicated.
  • Standard Questions – These should be predetermined by insurance company protocol and based on the type of insurance coverage and injury.
  • Focus Questions – In advance of the interview, review all information available and prepare a list of questions that focus on the specific injury and how it occurred.
  • Flexibility – Be ready to take the interview in a different direction depending upon the answers to standard and focus questions. 

The success of the investigation depends on the adjuster’s ability to gather accurate and reliable information.

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