Neuro-Data Bill Needs Your Support--Critical Action Alert

We have been requested to circulate the following action alert by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA)

Brain injury advocates have helped get the Advancing Research for Neurological Diseases Act (S. 849) further than it has ever advanced in the U.S. Senate. This bill would establish a data collection system to track the incidence and prevalence of neurological diseases including brain injury. Having passed committee unanimously in February, the next few weeks are critical in determining whether the Senate will bring the bill-along with other medical innovations bills-to the floor for a vote.

Email or call your U.S. Senators today to urge them to continue working in a bipartisan fashion to bring the medical innovations bills-including S. 849-to a vote. To find your Senators contact information including email address click here. Or call your Senators. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Sample Email/Script Language

As a person with a brain injury or brain injury advocate or brain injury professional and constituent, I am contacting you today to ask that you help bring the Senate's medical innovations package to the floor and vote YES on the package. The policy proposals found in this legislation are bipartisan and were passed by the Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Of particular importance to people affected by brain injury and other neurological conditions and diseases is inclusion and passage of the Advancing Research for Neurological Diseases Act (S. 849).

Emerging therapies offer promise of cures for life-threatening diseases such as brain injury, Alzheimer's, MS, cancer, Parkinson's, and others. We are on the cusp of personalized medicine that takes into account a patient's unique genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. We must ensure research and regulatory institutions can keep pace. This pending legislation would streamline and modernize the biomedical research pipeline, and help bring new, safe and effective treatments and cures to Americans.

I am particularly grateful that the medical innovation bill includes S. 849-which would establish a data collection system to track the incidence and prevalence of neurological diseases. This system will provide a foundation for evaluating and understanding aspects of neurological diseases on which we currently do not have a good grasp such as the geography of diagnoses, variances in gender and disease burden-also helping expedite our path to cures.

I respectfully request you advocate to your colleagues to bring the Senate's medical innovations package including S.849 to the Senate floor and vote YES for this important legislation.

Sincerely,

Your Name and Signature

May 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Youth Sports Concussion Act Moves Out of Committee

Legislative News from the Brain Injury Association of America:

The United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, chaired by Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) passed the Youth Sports Concussion Act, S. 2508 out of the committee on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. The Youth Sports Concussion Act is sponsored by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and in the House of Representatives, Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.), co-chairs of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force. BIAA thanks Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson (D-Fla.), and Senator Udall for their leadership on moving this important piece of legislation forward.

The Youth Sports Concussion Act expressed the sense of Congress that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should review the National Academies' report on sports-related concussions and future research in such area for any matter that may impact products under the CPSC's jurisdiction or inform the FTC's efforts to protect consumers.

The bill makes it unlawful to sell or offer for sale in interstate commerce, or import into the United States for such purposes, athletic sporting equipment for which the seller or importer makes any deceptive claim with respect to the safety benefits of such an item. Violations shall be treated as unfair or deceptive acts or practices under the Federal Trade Commission Act. The bill sets forth the enforcement authority of the FTC. States may bring civil actions in federal court to obtain injunctive relief on behalf of state residents unless a civil or administrative action has already been instituted by the FTC. The FTC may intervene and appeal in state actions.

The Youth Sports Concussion Act is an important piece of legislation because it will protect our nation's youth who participate in sports related activities from concussions and other injuries by discouraging false advertising claims regarding protective equipment used in competitive sports.

BIAA and NASHIA recently spearheaded a letter of support to the Senate Commerce Committee to include the Youth Sports Concussion Act in the next executive session. Thirty six organizations signed on in support of moving this important legislation through the committee process.

April 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Court of Appeals Approves NFL Class Action Settlement

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision today, affirming the settlement of the NFL class action litigation. Unfortunately, the decision is a disappointment. When the players realize that they will receive virtually no benefits under the settlement, there will be a revolution.  The next court to weigh in on these issues is the Court of Public Opinion.

read my comments in New York Times story reporting on this settlement

April 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brain Injury Association of America Legislative Update

The following legislative update has been prepared by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), the nation's oldest and largest brain injury advocacy group:

BIAA Submits Testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees This week, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) submitted testimony to the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. The appropriations request includes:

TBI Model Systems

BIAA calls on Congress to Support the TBI Model System program by increasing funding by $13 million over the next six years:

  • Increase funding for the National Data and Statistical Center by $100,000 annually to allow all participants to be followed; when re-competed, increase from $625,000 to $1 million annually;
  • Increase funding for centers by $150,000 annually from the current average of $437,500;
  • Increase the number of competitively funded centers from 16 to 18; and
  • Increase the number of multicenter TBI Model Systems Collaborative Research projects from one to five, each with an annual budget of $1.5 million (current funding is $600,000 each).

BIAA also urges that the TBI Model Systems receive "line-item" status within the broader NIDILRR budget.

TBI State Grant and Protection and Advocacy Grant Programs

On Oct. 1, 2015, the HHS Secretary transferred the TBI State Grant program to the Administration for Community Living, Administration on Disabilities' Independent Living Administration and the Protection & Advocacy (P&A) Grant Program to the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Only 20 states receive TBI State grants, and all the P&A grants are severely under-funded.

  • Appropriate $9.76 million to fund the Federal TBI State and P&A Grant Programs plus an additional $1 million for the Federal TBI State Grant Program to increase the number of State grants (4 additional states) and $2 million total for the P&A Grant Program to increase the amount of grant awards.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention The TBI Act of 1996, as amended, authorizes funding for data, prevention, public education and research.

  • Support CDC in its mandate to review the scientific evidence related to brain injury management in children and identify opportunities for research;
  • Support TBI national surveillance;
  • Appropriate $10 million to fund CDC's TBI programs; and
  • Support the President's Fiscal Year 2017 budget request for $5 million for the CDC to accurately determine the incidence of sports related concussions among youth ages 5-21.

BIAA Advocates to Advance the Youth Sports Concussion Act

BIAA and the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA) spearheaded a stakeholder letter to urge the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee to include the Youth Sports Concussion Act (HR 4460/S. 2508) in the next executive session. The Youth Sports Concussion Act is sponsored by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.), co-chairs of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force. Thirty six organizations signed on in support of moving this important legislation through the committee process.

The Youth Sports Concussion Act expressed the sense of Congress that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should review the National Academies' report on sports-related concussions and future research in such area for any matter that may impact products under the CPSC's jurisdiction or inform the FTC's efforts to protect consumers.

The bill makes it unlawful to sell or offer for sale in interstate commerce, or import into the United States for such purposes, athletic sporting equipment for which the seller or importer makes any deceptive claim with respect to the safety benefits of such an item. Violations shall be treated as unfair or deceptive acts or practices under the Federal Trade Commission Act. The bill sets forth the enforcement authority of the FTC. States may bring civil actions in federal court to obtain injunctive relief on behalf of state residents unless a civil or administrative action has already been instituted by the FTC. The FTC may intervene and appeal in state actions.

The Youth Sports Concussion Act is an important piece of legislation because it will protect our nation's youth who participate in sports related activities from concussions and other injuries by discouraging false advertising claims regarding protective equipment used in competitive sports.

April 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brain Injury Association of America--Newly Announced Webinars

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) has announced the scheduling of the following webinars.  Further information can be obtained by clicking here.

April 21, 2016: 3 pm ET, 2 pm CT, 1 pm MT, noon PT

David Strauss Memorial Lecture: Cognitive Rehabilitation Focus on Awareness, Sheldon Herring, PhD

Dr. Herring will describe clinical implications and treatment of awareness deficits.

May 18, 2016: 3 pm ET, 2 pm CT, 1 pm MT, noon PT

Carolyn Rocchio Caregivers Webinar: Understanding Mood, Memory, and Behavior after Brain Injury: The Role of the Family, Sandeep Vaishnavi, MD, PhD 

Dr. Vaishnavi, Director of The Neuropsychiatric Clinic and author of the book The Traumatized Brain, will discuss ways to help families understand the long-term neuropsychiatric symptoms of brain injury, and offer strategies for how they can help. 

July 13, 2016: 3 pm ET, 2 pm CT, 1 pm MT, noon PT

Robert Sbordone Memorial Lecture: Gender and Sex Differences in Concussion, Katherine Price Snedaker, LCSW

Ms. Snedaker will discuss the latest gender-based research on concussion/mTBI and how those findings might inform clinical practice.

July 21, 2016: 3 pm ET, 2 pm CT, 1 pm MT, noon PT

Carolyn Rocchio Caregivers Webinar: How to Select the Right App and Use Strategies Consistently, Michelle Wild, MA

Ms. Wild will will pose four questions to ask when deciding which apps to download, go through each question to evaluate several apps to illustrate the process, and cover ways to improve the consistent use of compensatory strategies on a daily basis.

July 26, 2016: 3 pm ET, 2 pm CT, 1 pm MT, noon PT

David Strauss Memorial Lecture: Cognitive Rehabilitation Focus on Attention, John Whyte, MD, PhD

Dr. Whyte will discuss the organization of attention processes in the healthy brain, the occurrence and clinical implications of attention deficits following TBI, and cognitive rehabilitation strategies to improve outcomes.

September 14, 2016: 3 pm ET, 2 pm CT, 1 pm MT, noon PT

Mitchell Rosenthal Memorial Lecture: Use of Internal Strategies as a Memory Compensation Technique after Brain Injury, Mary R.T. Kennedy, PhD, CCC-SLP, McKay Moore Sohlberg, PhD, CCC-SLP, and Therese O'Neil Pirozzi, ScD, CCC-SLP

What are internal strategy options for post-TBI memory impairment? In this webinar, Drs. Kennedy, Sohlberg, and Pirozzi will discuss the evidence supporting various internal memory strategies and demonstrate the key systematic instructional principles for teaching internal memory strategies.

September 22, 2016: 3

pm ET, 2 pm CT, 1 pm MT, noon PT

BIAA Webinar: Post-TBI Headache, Nathan Zasler, MD, FAAPM&R, FAADEP, DAAPM, CBIST

Dr. Zasler will provide insights into the myriad causes of headache following brain, head, and/or neck injuries; review headache classification, etiology and pathophysiology; and describe treatment options for the various subtypes of PTHA.  

October 19, 2016: 3 pm ET, 2pm CT, 1pm MT, noon PT

Carolyn Rocchio Caregivers Webinar: Strategies for Families Managing Personality Changes after Brain Injury, Allan Grill, CRC, MFT

Mr. Grill will discuss how families deal with the personality changes a person with a brain injury might present after an injury; offer some insights into strategies families can use and useful resources for professionals to share with families; and include case scenarios, followed by a discussion about issues and concepts that families need to understand to effectively manage behavioral and personality challenges.

November 9, 2016: 3 pm ET, 2 pm CT, 1 pm MT, noon PT

Business of Brain Injury Webinar: A Review of Medicaid Waivers for TBI, Janet Williams, PhD

Dr. Williams will address the philosophy behind Medicaid Waivers, how they differ from state to state, how rehabilitation providers may provide services under the waivers, and how people with brain injury may access services through waivers.

 

April 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Documentary examines NCAA Commercial Exploitation of Athletes

Commercial exploitation of athletes, exposing college athletes to brain damage, using and abusing college students in the name of sports.  These are some of the topics explored in the first documentary examining the conduct of the NCAA.  The film, The Business of Athletes will be previewed on April 28th at 7:30 PM in  the Bronx at  the Showcase Cinema, Concourse Plaza, 214 E 161st St, Bronx, NY.  But only, if enough people purchase tickets in advance.  You can get more information by clicking here. Here is a link to the trailer and a review by the Mike O'Keefe of the Daily News, click here   The film maker, Bob DeMars has graciously selected The Brain Injury Association of America for donation's.

April 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A safety award for NFL Commissioner? Are they out of their minds?

Later this week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will be given the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program Leadership in Sports Health, Safety & Research Award.  GIVE ME A BREAK!  Read more by clicking here.

March 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Concussion Research--NFL's conduct is disgraceful

I am gratified that The NY Daily News extensively covered my criticism of the NFL and its conduct. It is appalling that they could alter scientific research and should be a lesson for us all when we review these medical articles from the best doctors that money can buy.  Lawyer says $765M NFL settlement should be invalidated

March 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

NFL Alters Scientitif Research--A Disgrace

The New York Times reports this morning that the NLF and its Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee deliberately altered scientific research submitted to the Journal Neurosurgery. The lies were used to support their assertions that concussions did not pose a risk to NFL Players.  It's time that the full truth is told.  The NFL cannot be permitted to hide the truth from the public.  In N.F.L., Deeply Flawed Concussion Research and Ties to Big Tobacco

March 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

NFL Finally Admits What Everyone Else Has Known For Years.

The NFL has known about the link between CTE and repetitive head trauma for years. Just shocking how long it has taken them to admit it. Read my comments in today’s NY Daily News. NFL Accepting CTE Link

March 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New York State Brain Injury Advocacy Day

The Brain Injury Association of New York State (BIANYS) has scheduled its first Brain Injury Advocacy Day for Wednesday, March 23 in Albany, New York.

Advocates will be traveling to Albany from all around the state to help legislators understand that many New Yorkers with brain injury need comprehensive, coordinated long-term care, and that changes proposed by the state Department of Health could lead to harmful service cuts for these individuals.

Your voice and participation in this event is important to alert your legislators to the importance of protecting the rights of victims of brain injury.

To join the Brain Injury Association of New York in Albany on March 23rd, please click here to for further information and to register.

March 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Future Potential Liability for Concussion Injuries

Interesting article in today's San Diego Reader on long term potential liability of NFL for concussion related injuries.  Read my comments contained in article on potential liability of municipalities that providing funding for stadium construction.  Will the NFL be as powerful in three decades? The long term viability of professional football.

 

March 10, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Book review-Patients Rights and Ethical Dilemas a review of Rights Come to Mind: Brain Injury, Ethics and the Struggle for Consciousness

Nationally recognized brain injury attorney, Shana De Caro’s review of Rights Come to Mind: Brain Injury, Ethics, and the Struggle for Consciousness by Joseph J. Fins was published in this month’s Trial Magazine, the official publication of the American Association for Justice.  The book according to Shana, “is a fascinating discussion of the serious issues confronting people with impaired consciousness.”  The text analyzes the issues of consciousness from medical, familial, and societal perspectives focusing on the myriad issues confronting families.    Shana is a member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of America and immediate past chair of the Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice.

The review can be found at Trial, American Association for Justice: “Patient Rights and Ethical Dilemmas” Book Review, March 2016, Vol. 52. No.3.

March 8, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

Brain injury is reached epidemic levels in the United States.  The Centers for Disease Control estimates that each year in the United States there are:

52,000 deaths attributable to TBI

275,000 hospitalizations attributable to TBI

1,365,000 emergency department visits attributable to TBI

If individuals who sustained a concussion and did not seek any emergency treatment were included in these statistics or were treated for injuries in a hospital where TBI was not the primary diagnosis, the CDC estimates over 3.5 million Americans each year were victims of brain damage.

The CDC estimates the direct medical costs and indirect costs of TBI, such as lost wages and productivity totals $60 billion dollars when last measured in 2000.

Although brain injury is receiving increased attention because of the media focus on professional athletes sustaining traumatic brain injury and returning service members who have sustained blast related brain damage, the vast majority of individuals with brain injury are part of a silent epidemic who do not receive the attention, treatment and social services they deserve.

The Brain Injury Association of America and its state affiliates sponsors many activities and programs during Brain Injury Awareness Month to raise public awareness of this injury that may last a life time.

For further information, go to the Brain Injury Association of America web site.

If you or a loved one is a victim of traumatic brain injury, the brain injury law firm of De Caro & Kaplen, LLP may be able to provide legal assistance. 

 

March 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brain Injury Waiver Services Jeopardized in New York State

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) is attempting to cut services for individuals on the Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver Program by transferring them to managed care programs.  The insurance carriers who will then provide waiver services will eliminate necessary services.  A devious move by DOH who is no longer a friend of the brain injury community. 

DOH is not concerned with the brain injury community, but only concerned with saving money. 

The Brain Injury Association of New York State (BIANYS) has just issued an action alert:

Dear Friend and Supporters of the Brain Injury Association of NYS,

As you know, the TBI and Nursing Home Transition and Diversion (NHTD) Medicaid Waiver Programs are slated to move into the Managed Care system by next year. According to the Department of Health’s timeline, the transition plan will be finalized by April 1, 2016. Time is very limited to ensure that New Yorkers with brain injury keep receiving the services they need to stay in their communities.

BIANYS and other stakeholders are advocating for continued access to Waiver services for current and future participants. The Department’s proposed transition plan does not address the needs of this population and current outcomes show the use of the UAS assessment tool may result in 30% of all program participants losing services.

To ensure access to care, the Assembly and Senate have introduced requiring that a transition to Managed Care include the specialized services created for this specialized population, including Service Coordination. Click here for legislative proposals.

This proposed legislation details these services, reinstates the neurobehavioral resource project, includes a rate cell to protect people who need higher levels of care, and addresses repatriation for people with brain injury institutionalized out-of-state.

WE NEED YOUR HELP TO ENSURE THE PASSAGE OF A.9288

Contact your Assembly member asking for support of A.9288 and contact your Senator asking for a similar bill in the Senate. We have posted resources, including a suggested letter to download.  BIANYS web site information

Please share this information widely and encourage others to get involved and to join us in Albany on March 23 for Brain Injury Advocacy Day

Thank you, 

February 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reported concussions up by 58% in NFL during 2015

Reported concussions increased by 58% in statistics reported by the NFL yesterday.  But's that's just part of the problem.  What about sub-concussive blows and repeated head trauma and the long term brain damage that these injuries cause?  Not surprisingly, the NfL doesn't want to discuss this.  See my comments in today's NY Daily News.

January 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brain Injury Awareness Day, March 16, 2016

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) has announced that Reps. Pascrell (D-N.J.) and Rooney (R-Fla.), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, will host Brain Injury Awareness Day on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, March 16, 2016.

Included is a brain injury awareness fair with over 50 exhibitors, a Congressional briefing, and a reception to celebrate the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force and Brain Injury Awareness Month.

Schedule of Events for Brain Injury Awareness Day 2016

9:00am - 2:00pm Brain Injury Awareness Fair, Cannon Caucus Room, Cannon House Office Building 
2:30pm Congressional Briefing, Capitol Visitors Center
5:00pm - 7:00pm Reception Celebrating Brain Injury Awareness Month, B338 Rayburn House Office Building

January 8, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shana De Caro reelected to Brain Injury Association of America Bd of Directors

De Caro & Kaplen, LLP is pleased to announce that Shana De Caro has been reelected to a three year term to the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of America.

Founded in 1980, the Brain Injury Association of America is the oldest, largest, non-profit nationwide brain injury advocacy group.   Serving as a member of their Board of Directors is an honor recognizing the years Shana has devoted as a dedicated advocate seeking to improve the lives of persons with a brain injury. 

Shana’s practice focuses on representing victims of catastrophic injuries, traumatic brain damage, and medical malpractice in federal and state courts across the country. 

Shana is a featured speaker throughout the United States in areas of traumatic brain injury, personal injury, and medical malpractice.  In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association, she also serves as member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, as Secretary and member of the Board of Trustees of the Civil Justice Foundation, and an elected Fellow of the Melvin Belli Society.  Shana is the immediate past chair of the American Association for Justice, Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group.

Shana’s legal work in the field of traumatic brain injury includes publication of a chapter of Psychiatric Clinics of North America special edition on brain injury and the New York Law Journal expert column on traumatic brain injury law.

Contact Shana

Her full CV can be viewed here

More information can be obtained about De Caro & Kaplen by visiting their web site brainlaw

January 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Daily News Interview on Concussion Movie

Gratified to be interviewed for special Daily News feature article on “Concussion” movie appearing in Sunday editions of paper.  We all need to be diligent and speak out for the 5.2 million Americans suffering from the permanent consequences of traumatic brain injury.  All brain injuries are serious and must be treated as such by the NFL, insurance carriers and health providers. Opening Eyes and Minds: Former NFL QB Ray Lucas, CTE activists weigh in on Will Smith’s ‘Concussion’

 

December 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Concussion a Good Opening Gambit

Shana and I attended an advance screening of the movie Concussion, with a group of sports writers and newscasters.  Will Smith gave a compelling performance as Bennet Omalu, and his quest to determine and understand the cause of a specific type of brain damage, later named CTE, first discovered in the brain of former Pittsburgh Steeler, Mike Webster.  This was Omalu’s movie and his story, based on the 2009 GQ exposé, Game Brain by Jeanne Marie Laskas. This was not a documentary.

The title for the film, “Concussion” is misleading.  The film is not about concussions and the failure on the part of the league to inform players about the signs and symptoms of concussions, the need to refrain from returning to play before a player is healed, or the potential life-long consequences of a concussion.  It is a film about the work of Bennet Omalu and his efforts to understand Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

Importantly the film is based upon a true story, but is not a complete story.  It is an excellent presentation of the path Omalu took and the painstaking investigation into the cause Mike Webster’s death.  Omalu’s dogged pursuit of answers led to the discovery of the connection between football and brain damage and opened the door to further research.  The movie indicated his conflict with the NFL in accepting this information, which the NFL still disputes.

This movie opens the door to a more important conversation, about trauma and brain damage that must continue.  The cinematic decisions about the portrayals of different characters and the complete omission of any reference to the Concussion Legacy Foundation in Boston, the past and current role of Commissioner Goodell and the NFL marketing department in deflecting criticism were interesting choices made by the film’s writer and director.

It was a compelling introduction for the public to the health issues generated by trauma in football.  This theme must be expanded. If this movie provokes a national conversation about the larger issues associated with all types of brain damage, from football, other sports and everyday accidents, then it has been a great public service.  It would be misleading, if however, it leaves the impression that the problems have been remedied or that the only public health concern is CTE.  This is the tip of the iceberg of the full-range of chronic life-altering effects of concussions. 

Brain injury is a chronic condition with life-long consequences.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), each year there are over 200,000 visits to emergency departments by children under the age of 19 suffering concussion related problems from organized sports.  Omitted from these statistics are visits to urgent care facilities, physicians’ offices, and cases where concussion is not the principal diagnosis. The CDC estimates that the accurate number is between 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports related concussions documented each year!  This is a true public health crisis.  Labeling a condition does not address treatment issues and how we, as a society, address the impact of a chronic condition that has consequences for families and society.

We applaud the efforts of all those involved in making this important film, and hope it engenders continued investigation and research into not only prevention, but improved identification and treatment options that will assist this vulnerable population.

SHANA DE CARO, ESQ. is a member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of America and immediate past chair of the American Association for Justice  Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group.

MICHAEL V. KAPLEN, ESQ. is a Professorial Lecturer in Law teaching the only course in traumatic brain injury law at The George Washington University Law School, a member and immediate past chair of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Coordinating Council, three term president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State and a past chair of the American Association for Justice Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group.

DE CARO & KAPLEN, LLP is a New York based law firm with a focus on representing victims of traumatic brain injury throughout the nation.  Shana and Michael are frequently invited to lecture attorneys and public advocacy groups nationwide on the legal issues pertaining to brain injury, public health concerns and the impact of brain injury on the lives of its victims.

Shana and Michael authored the New York Law Journal expert column on brain injury law and the chapter on brain injury law in the special issue of Psychiatric Clinics of North America.    

December 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Concussion Movie

Shana and I are honored to have been invited by Sony Pictures to an advance screening of the movie Concussion next week, which brings to light the NFL’s attempt to conceal the truth about concussion danger from NFL participation. Although this film is based upon revelations concerning CTE, the movie focuses the spotlight on this public health epidemic of brain injuries by revealing just the tip of the iceberg of the devastating injuries sustained by NFL players.

The movie is scheduled to open on Christmas day.

We look forward to sharing our thoughts about the film following the screening.

December 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Roger Goodell Jokes About Concussions

A concussion is a brain injury.  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should know better.

Concussions are no laughing matter.  Read my sentiments in this New York Daily News Article.

 

December 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

De Caro & Kaplen, LLP Obtain $4.5 Million Dollar Settlement for Stroke Victim in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

A New York medical malpractice lawsuit for a stroke victim has resulted in a settlement of $4.5 million dollars because of the legal work performed by New York medical malpractice attorneys Shana De Caro and Michael V. Kaplen.

Our firm achieved a $4.5 million settlement for our client, who at age 63 suffered a massive stroke following improper treatment for his paroxysmal atrial fibrillation and improper treatment at the emergency department of a local hospital.

We established our client was suffering from long standing paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, (AFib), a common heart condition in which the heart periodically deviates from normal rhythm. Frequently a patient with AFib experiences fatigue, heart fluttering, dizziness, chest pain and other signs that alerts him/her of the irregular heartbeat. There is effective medication that can control a patient’s heart rhythm and reduce the risk of stroke.  If untreated, however, this condition can cause an accumulation of blood in the heart’s atrial chamber causing increased risk of an embolus (a blood clot that breaks off) and places an individual at a higher risk of a stroke. 

Our client was seen by a cardiologist, seeing patients for his own vacationing doctor (who were both part of the same medical group), during an emergency appointment for symptoms of an irregular heartbeat. In the past when he experienced AFib he was placed on a well-known anti-coagulation (blood thinning) medication, Coumadin (also known as Warfarin).  On this visit, the cardiologist, ignored his past medical history (including a prior TIA and hypertension), and past successful treatment with Coumadin. This physician negligently determined plaintiff was at a low risk for a stroke and improperly placed the patient on a high dose of aspirin therapy with instructions to schedule a follow up visit one week later. 

We established it was medical malpractice not to prescribe Coumadin and instead place our client on aspirin therapy.  New York medical malpractice lawyers, Shana De Caro and Michael Kaplen also proved that the cardiologist was negligent in not recommending the patient return in two days to follow up and alert the patient’s regular cardiologist of this emergency visit.

One week later, when the patient returned for his scheduled examination by his regular cardiologist he was still in AFib and was immediately placed on Coumadin and sent him home.  Our malpractice attorneys proved his treating cardiologist committed malpractice because he failed to recognize that Coumadin would not reach therapeutic (beneficial) levels for several days. Considering his history of one week of AFib, he should have prescribed a rapid action blood thinning medication, Heparin to bridge the gap until Coumadin reached a therapeutic level. 

The combined failures of both cardiologists diminished plaintiff’s chances for a better outcome.

Predictably and unfortunately, twenty four hours after this second visit, the plaintiff suffered a stroke in his home and was immediately transported by ambulance to a local hospital certified stroke center.  Although emergency department doctors established he was a candidate for the stroke busting agent, tPA, they incorrectly administered an experimental stroke busting medication, Tenecteplase (TNK) generally used for acute myocardial infarction, not stroke.  

It is well-known that tPA is the only FDA approved medication for a stroke. The medication works to rapidly dissolve the blood clot that develops in the brain and reduces brain damage that may develop due to impaired blood flow and decreased oxygen reaching brain tissue.  Effective treatment requires that tPA be administered within 4 ½ hours after signs of a stroke develop.  Plaintiff’s stroke was witnessed by his wife and he arrived at the Emergency Department well within the window of opportunity for treatment. When timely administered, tPA significantly improves the changes for a good outcome.  The emergency department doctors committed medical malpractice by ignoring the recommended time for administering tPA to a patient with obvious signs of a stroke who reached the hospital within 4 ½ hours of the stroke’s onset.

After discovery of the medication error, plaintiff was transferred on an emergency basis to a university hospital hoping they would perform an embolectomy, (a surgical procedure sometimes used to mechanically open the blockage in the blood vessel) within the brain causing the stroke.   Unfortunately, even after the emergency arrangements were made, the stroke team at the university hospital was not notified for an hour.  When they finally arrived a repeat CT study demonstrated the patient’s stroke was too large to perform this embolectomy. It was too late.

Because of his stroke Plaintiff suffered hemiparesis (paralysis) and aphasia (word finding difficulties) requiring full time care at home.

The treating cardiologists contributed their policy limits of $3.5 million dollars; hospital number one contributed $750,000 and hospital number two contributed $250,000 to the final settlement.  It was agreed there would be no disclosure of the identities of the parties.

The case was prosecuted by New York personal injury and malpractice attorneys, Shana De Caro, immediate past chair of the Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, a member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of America and Michael V. Kaplen, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys and a Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School. 

If you or your loved one suffered injuries because of the careless or negligent conduct of a doctor or hospital, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the law firm of De Caro & Kaplen, LLP for a free, no obligation, consultation.  Our personal injury attorneys have been representing victims of medical negligence for over 35 years.

December 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Parents Need to Read This

The risk of permanent brain damage and CTE far outweighs the benefits of slamming heads in football for our nation's youth.  Don't let your kids play football

December 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Frank Gifford and CTE : It's time that the NFL gets serious

Former professional football player and TV commentator Frank Gifford, who died in August at age 84, suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease.  The only known cause of this condition is repetitive head trauma.  Gifford played in the NFL for 12 years and during that time suffered from repetitive head trauma.

“We as a family made the difficult decision to have his brain studied in hopes of contributing to the advancement of medical research concerning the link between football and traumatic brain injury,” Gifford’s family said in a statement released Wednesday.

Although all the details of Frank Gifford’s condition in the last years of his life are not known, the fact that CTE was found on autopsy adds further weight to the mounting evidence that football is a concussion delivery system causing permanent consequences to players.  The fact that Gifford and all players diagnosed with this condition past the settlement date in the NFL class action concussion litigation is further proof that the settlement that was reached was unfair and needs to be rejected by the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals.   

The danger of CTE is something that the NFL can no longer hide from all ignore.  Players with this condition must be compensated and effective measures must be put in place to reduce to present and future players.  It’s time to end the double talk of the NFL and get serious about head injury and brain damage.  

The family said it decided to disclose his condition “to honor Frank’s legacy of promoting player safety dating back to his involvement in the formation of the NFL Players Association in the 1950s.”

My partner, Shana De Caro and I authored the amicus brief on behalf of the Brain Injury Association of America arguing against the NFL settlement. We argued to the court that the settlement was junk science and was not a fair or balanced settlement for players suffering from brain damage.

For more information, read the story on ESPN: Hall of Fame player Frank Gifford suffered from CTE, family says.

November 25, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

December is Carbon Monoxide Safety Month It has no color….no taste…no smell. It doesn’t burn your eyes or cause people to cough. However, it can be deadly and is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the U.S.

The poison? It is carbon monoxide or CO, a gas that kills by binding up the hemoglobin in the blood, reducing the body’s ability to carry oxygen to the brain and muscles. Death is related to both the level of CO as well as the duration of exposure. CO is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels (coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas) used in cars, trucks, recreational vehicles, houseboats, portable generators, furnaces, charcoal grills, small engines, salamanders, LP gas heaters, stoves, lanterns, fireplaces, portable flameless catalytic heaters, and gas ranges. Cars left running in attached garages even with the doors open, portable generators in basements vented to an open window or located outside next to a window, and charcoal grills inside tents or homes have all resulted in CO quickly building to lethal levels in enclosed spaces. People and animals can be poisoned. December is National Carbon Monoxide Safety Month. This is fitting as December and January are the peak months for CO poisoning, which results in the unintentional deaths of almost 500 people in the U.S. each year and is responsible for more than 20,000 emergency room visits and greater than 4000 hospitalizations.

Some who survives Carbon Monoxide exposure can face permanent neurological damage. CO affects people differently. Children and adults over 65 years with health problems are particularly vulnerable. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu and include headache, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath and dizziness. These slower developing symptoms can result in death over-time if mistaken for other illnesses.

High level CO poisoning, usually develops rapidly and includes progressively more severe symptoms including mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness and ultimately death. The use of generators in residential spaces can cause this type of high level CO exposure to happen resulting in victims going to sleep and not waking up. This happened to a 16 year-old Buffalo teenager who lost her life sleeping near a malfunctioning basement boiler while at a friend’s house for a sleepover.

Workers are also affected by carbon monoxide poisoning. Workplaces may be weather sealed in winter. While internal combustion machinery such as gasoline or diesel-powered forklifts, air compressors, telehandlers, generators, pressure washers, welding equipment and petroleum-fired machinery produce CO are still being used. Although cold weather and power outages increase the use of risky alternative heating and power sources, carbon monoxide poisoning is not just a winter or storm-related concern. In recent years cases of CO poisoning have also been associated with residential utility shutoffs. This scenario is most prevalent in economically depressed areas and low income household where power disconnection results in families using unsafe means to keep warm or run their refrigerators.

SAFETY TIPS TO PREVENT CO POISONING:

  • Purchase and install CO alarms. Test them regularly and change the batteries twice yearly. A good time to do this is when you change your clocks to adjust for daylight savings time.
    • Ensure that heating systems and appliances are installed and serviced annually by qualified professionals. Chimneys should be checked and cleaned, as needed. When renovating a home or repairing a roof, make sure that tarps or debris do not block vents and chimneys. • Ventilate….ventilate….ventilate. Make sure that all fuel-burning equipment is vented properly. Don’t patch vent pipes in your home, cabin, camper, boat, or workplace with tape or gum
    • Remove vehicles from a garage immediately after starting them, even if the garage door is open. If you open the tailgate on a running SUV or similar vehicle, open the vents/windows to ensure air flow and exchange. If only the tailgate is open, CO from the exhaust could be pulled into the vehicle.
    • Ensure that vehicle exhaust pipes are not blocked in or after a heavy snowstorm. Make sure vents for the furnace, stove, fireplace and dryer are clear of snow.
    • Only operate portable generators or other gasoline-powered equipment, including portable flameless catalytic heaters, OUTSIDE of a home, garage, basement or any enclosed or semi-enclosed space. Position them at least 20 feet from a window, door or vent.
    • Increase awareness of symptoms and causes. Many people do not know that certain equipment, such as generators, are dangerous and can produce deadly fumes.
    • If symptoms suggest CO poisoning, get to fresh air immediately and call 911.

The brain injury law firm of De Caro & Kaplen, LLP has represented victims of carbon monoxide exposure and can provide legal representation to you or your loved one if a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

November 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times Report on Oral Arguments in NFL Concussion Litigation Before 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals

I had the privilege of attending yesterday's oral arguments before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the NFL class action brain injury litigation.

Unfortunately, the appellants concentrated their arguments on CTE and not the junk science of this settlement and the failure on the part of class counsel to properly and adequately represent all players with brain injury.  My partner, Shana De Caro and I hope that the court will take note of the arguments we made in our amicus brief on behalf of the Brain Injury Association of America.

here is a link to the article in today's NY Times reporting on the oral arguments that contains some observations from me. Judges Skeptical of Ex-N.F.L. Players’ Appeal Over Head Injury Settlement

November 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brain Injury Association of America--Affordable Care Act Consumer Survey

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) is conducting a survey to better understand
whether the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is meeting the needs of individuals with
brain injuries. If you have health care coverage through private insurance
provided by your employer or by one of the health care marketplaces or
"exchange,." click here to fill out the survey.  The survey is also under news and
announcements on BIAA's website

November 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Concussion Legacy Foundation Awards Ceremony this Evening in Boston, Mass

I will be in Boston, Mass this evening attending the annual awards ceremony for the Concussion Legacy Foundation, formally known as the Sports Legacy Institute.  Foundation headed by Chris Nowinski has been instrumental in alerting the public to the dangers of concussion and brain damage in all sports; providing needed education on the signs and symptoms of concussions and most importantly leading efforts to keep players out when there is any suspicion of a concussion.  The group through their affiliation with Boston University also has led efforts to understand and appreciate the effects of cumulative brain trauma and its causation to a Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).  Keep up the great work!

November 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Future of Brain Injury Rehabilitation-Free Webinar Sponsored by Brain Injury Association of America

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) has announced the scheduling of a free webinar to explore challenges in rehabilitation services following a brain injury under managed care medical systems.  The webinar will be conducted by Bruce Gans, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer of the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, and chairman of the board of directors and CEO of the American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association.

Details of the webinar are:

More Management/Less Care: What the Future Holds for Brain Injury Rehabilitation

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

3:00 p.m. Eastern (12:00 p.m. pacific)

To register for this FREE webinar, click here.  

My partner, brain injury attorney, Shana De Caro serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of America.

October 31, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)