Brain Injury Lawyers and Law, Brain Injury Prevention

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.


  • 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)

Brain Injury and Sports, Brain Injury Events, Brain Injury Lawyers and Law, Brain Injury Legislative News, Brain Injury Prevention

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)

Brain Injury & Concussions, Brain Injury and Sports, Brain Injury Lawyers and Law, Brain Injury Prevention, Current Affairs

NFL influences Sony in Production of Concussion Movie

The NY Times reports this evening that they have discovered Wiki leaks showing how the NFL pressured Sony to alter their upcoming film, Concussion which documents the discovery of the link between professional football and the development of CTE.  Rad the full article Sony Altered ‘Concussion’ Film to Deter N.F.L. Protests, Emails Show

Unless the NFL is placed under oath, the public will never know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about what the NFL knew and when they knew it.

September 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brain Injury Prevention, Brain Injury Publications, Current Affairs

CDC Updates on Traumatic Brain Injury

    The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation released a special issue highlighting work from CDC and CDC’s partners to prevent traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to help people better recognize, respond, and recover if a TBI occurs. These studies present a clearer picture of TBI in the United States and the progress in the field.

Some key findings include:

•         Online Training Effectiveness: CDC and the National Federation of State High School Association’s concussion course online was effective in increasing concussion-related knowledge across a wide range of individuals.

•         Sports and Recreation TBI: About 7% of all sports and recreation-related injuries treated in United States emergency departments were TBIs.

•         Data Sources: New sources of TBI-related data on emergency department visits and hospitalizations will improve the ability to examine subpopulations most at risk for TBI.

•         Unemployment: About 60% of people (ages 16 to 60) who were discharged from inpatient rehabilitation following a TBI between 2001 and 2010 were still unemployed two years after their injury.

•         Motorcycle TBI death: Motorcycle crash patients with a TBI were 3 times more likely to die in the emergency department compared to those without a TBI.

You can review the special issue of the Journal by clicking here .


May 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Brain Injury and Sports, Brain Injury Events, Brain Injury Lawyers and Law, Brain Injury Prevention

Team Physician: Legal Liability for Concussions and Brain Injury


I am honored to be able to address The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) 83rd Annual Scientific Meeting on Saturday, May 2, 2015 in Washington, D.C.


I will address this prestigious group of neurosurgeons on their role and legal responsibility for concussion and brain injury upon assuming the role of a team physician for youth sports.


My presentation is part of a half day special session “Neurosurgeon Team Physician” designed to provide an introduction for practicing neurosurgeons to become involved in the care of athletes in their community. Presenters will discuss topics such as concussion diagnosis and management, pre-participation screening for neurologic conditions, sideline and game management, how to work with athletic trainers and other sports medicine providers and spine and peripheral nerve problems in athletes.


According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 248,418 children (age 19 or younger) were treated in U.S. emergency departments (ED) for sports and recreation-related injuries that included a diagnosis of concussion or TBI.  From 2001 to 2009, the rate of ED visits for sports and recreation-related injuries with a diagnosis of concussion or TBI, alone or in combination with other injuries rose 57% among children (age 19 or younger).



April 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Brain Injury & Concussions, Brain Injury and Sports, Brain Injury Lawyers and Law, Brain Injury Legislative News, Brain Injury Prevention

NY Times Editorial--Parents Need to Make Important Decisions When It Comes to the Risk of Head Injury and Brain Damage

Today's New York Times contains an important editorial on the silent dangers of concussions while engaged in any contact sport.

Here is a portion of that editorial:

Beyond the pro game, the decision by Mr. Borland to quit after one season to protect his health should be carefully noted by parents of the hundreds of thousands of youngsters eager to play each year at the peewee, high school and college levels. Research published in January in the medical journal Neurology found that former professionals who started playing before the age of 12 performed “significantly worse” in mental dexterity tests than those who began tackle football later, according to a study by the Boston University School of Medicine. Even in the absence of diagnosed concussions, high school players showed measurable brain changes after just a single season of tackle play, according to a separate study last December by the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

March 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Brain Injury & Concussions, Brain Injury and Sports, Brain Injury Prevention

How concussions are impacting our children-from the playing field to the classroom

The Minnesota Department of Health released a report on how concussions are impacting high-school athletes.

The report is based on data the Minnesota Department of Health collected from 36 Twin Cities-area schools during the last academic year. It estimates 3,000 high school athletes were concussed statewide last year.

That's 22 athletes suffering a concussion for every high school in Minnesota last year.

According to published reports, “Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger says the research should be a signal to coaches and parents that concussions need to be taken seriously.”

"And we need a commitment from everyone on the team to make sure our athletes can compete safely, and when concussion does occur, we need to make sure the student athletes have the support of parents, teachers, coaches, and school nurses and clinicians in the community," he says.

According to the report, hockey and football players have the highest concussion rates

The study results are published in the September issue of Minnesota Medicine.

September 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Brain Injury & Concussions, Brain Injury Latest Medical News, Brain Injury Lawyers and Law, Brain Injury Legislative News, Brain Injury Prevention

FDA Warning: No dietary supplements approved to treat concussions or other brain injury.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning that there are no approved dietary supplements to treat a concussions or other types of brain injury.

Can a Dietary Supplement Treat a Concussion? No! 

The concussion supplement warning published by the FDA is published in full below:

Exploiting the public's rising concern about concussions, some companies are offering untested, unproven and possibly dangerous products that claim to prevent, treat or cure concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is monitoring the marketplace and taking enforcement actions where appropriate, issuing warning letters to firms—the usual first step for dealing with claims that products labeled as dietary supplements are intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. The agency is also warning consumers to avoid purported dietary supplements marketed with claims to prevent, treat, or cure concussions and other TBIs because the claims are not backed with scientific evidence that the products are safe or effective for such purposes. These products are sold on the Internet and at various retail outlets, and marketed to consumers using social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

One common but misleading claim: Using a particular dietary supplement promotes faster healing after a concussion or other TBI.

Even if a particular supplement contains no harmful ingredients, that claim alone can be dangerous, says Gary Coody, FDA's National Health Fraud Coordinator.

"We're very concerned that false assurances of faster recovery will convince athletes of all ages, coaches and even parents that someone suffering from a concussion is ready to resume activities before they are really ready," says Coody. "Also, watch for claims that these products can prevent or lessen the severity of concussions or TBIs."

A concussion is a brain injury caused by a blow to the head, or by a violent shaking of the head and upper body. Concussions and other TBIs are serious medical conditions that require proper diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring by a health care professional. The long-term impact of concussions on professional athletes and children who play contact sports has recently been the subject of highly publicized discussions.

A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that if concussion victims resume strenuous activities—such as football, soccer or hockey—too soon, they risk a greater chance of having a subsequent concussion. Moreover, repeat concussions can have a cumulative effect on the brain, with devastating consequences that can include brain swelling, permanent brain damage, long-term disability and death.

“There is simply no scientific evidence to support the use of any dietary supplement for the prevention of concussions or the reduction of post-concussion symptoms that would allow athletes to return to play sooner,” said Charlotte Christin, acting director of FDA’s Division of Dietary Supplement Programs.

Click here for more information.

September 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Brain Injury and Sports, Brain Injury Lawyers and Law, Brain Injury Prevention

Class Action Lawsuit Commenced by Parents for Soccer Concussions

A class action lawsuit was filed yesterday in US Federal District Court against the Federal of International Football Association (FIFA) and US Soccer leagues by parents seeking changes to the associations concussion management rules to prevent brain injuries from occurring.

The plaintiffs are not seeking financial compensation but changes to how the game is played.  They are seeing an injunction compelling the leagues to changes their rules regarding heading a soccer ball, when to remove a player from the game after a suspected concussion takes place, how long to keep the player out and educational requirements.  The lawsuit wants the league to any player under 14 from heading the ball.

I was interviewed for a story published in the New York Times, Concussion Lawsuit Bids to Force Rule Changes in Soccer regarding this lawsuit.   While I agree with the purported motivation for commencing this action, I have serious doubts whether the court can grant the plaintiffs the relief they demand.


The complaint is an excellent primer on the history of sports concussions, what was known and when it was known, the need for sports concussion management and the dangers faced by children who sustain a concussion while engaged in a sporting activity.  I am attaching the full complaint:  Download Soccer complaint


A concussion is a brain injury.  The best cure for a brain injury is prevention.  When in doubt, keep them out!

August 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Brain Injury and Sports, Brain Injury Prevention, Brain Injury Publications

Centers for Disease Control Concussion App

CDC's Heads Up app helps parents and others learn how to spot the signs and symptoms of a concussion and explains what to do if they think their child or teen has a concussion or other serious brain injury. The app also includes information on selecting the right helmet for an activity and other detailed helmet safety information.

Download the CDC Heads Up Concussion App by clicking here

June 9, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack