10 Mar Brain Injury, Back Pain, Splitting Wood
Welcome to the Newsletter
Rana Law Group Newsletter
In this issue:
- Brain Injury Awareness Month
- Back Pain Prevention
- Splitting Wood
Brain Injury Awareness Month
March is brain injury awareness month! Unfortunately, in my line of work, I see a lot of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) (the phrase “concussion” is used interchangeably) as a result of a bump, blow or jolt to the head. Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of these types of injuries (in fact, I have four concussion cases going to trial this year). Falls and sports are the other contributing causes of brain injuries.
A concussion causes the brain to move rapidly back and forth against the skull, which stretches and damages the brain cells, resulting in chemical changes in the brain. Common symptoms include headaches, problems with memory, light sensitivity, issues with balance and more. These symptoms can interfere with a person’s ability to function at school or work and impair their relationships with others. Most people’s symptoms resolve within 6-12 months but some people develop lifelong difficulties with memory and fine motor skills.
While some brain injuries cannot be avoided, some are preventable. The CDC has a compiled a great list of ways to protect yourself and family members by improving motor vehicle safety, sport safety and preventing falls. As someone who frequently hears of the life altering effects these injuries have on clients and family members of my clients, I encourage you to visit the links and pass this information along.
If you or a loved one was not fortunate enough to avoid getting a brain injury, it is important to seek treatment immediately and consistently. Most people’s knowledge of brain injury treatment seems to be “don’t let someone go to sleep after they hit their head”. This is actually good advice because, if someone sustains a brain bleed (typically a moderate or severe brain injury), a hospital can run a CT scan and take necessary steps to prevent further injury. Fortunately, medical treatments for these injuries are advancing almost daily and the research confirms treatments help reduce the duration of symptoms and help with reducing long-term impact. Various therapies improve memory function and reduce headaches in even mild cases so it is important to not just ignore it and not just hope for the best.
From a legal standpoint, TBI cases can be particularly challenging at trial. Everything we just described is severe but, from a juror’s standpoint, many of the symptoms are subjective (meaning self-reported by the patient) and objective testing does not always show the injury. A TBI trial includes a lot of education on how the brain works and the use of demonstratives to show the injury on a microscopic level. This must all be done in a relatively short amount of time due to time constraints. Further complicating the case is that people’s memories of the event are clouded or, in severe cases, absent completely. While this imperfect (or non-existent) recollection of the event is understandable, it is perfect fodder for a defense attorney to attack the victim and create a doubt in the jury’s mind, which creates an out for why not to render a full and fair verdict.
Back Pain Prevention
For those who had a New Year’s resolution to improve their fitness or for those who suffer from back pain, I hope the following information will help keep you healthy year round. According to an analysis of 25 different studies by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the most effective way to prevent or improve lower back pain was regular exercise and core strengthening (not my favorite). Moving your body was found to increase blood flow to the discs in the spine and protect against age-related degeneration (just the normal aging process we all go through). The best results came from a combination of various cardio type workouts including walking, running, swimming and dancing, coupled with deep core strengthening exercises like planks, pushups, squats or bridges. Good news: crunches are not included because they work surface muscles rather than deep core muscles. Balance exercises that involve standing on an uneven surface, standing on one leg or hiking increase core stability as well. Pilates was originally designed to be a low impact way to improve back pain. Many free workout videos can be found online. My latest obsession has been barre, which includes micro movements designed to really work your often neglected smaller muscles. Hopefully this will help everyone suffering from or trying to prevent back pain!
Speaking of preventing back pain, we recently held our annual wood splitting weekend extravaganza to replace the wood that was burned this winter. Luckily, the hydraulic wood splitter makes back injuries less likely, especially when tilted down for large logs. We split and stacked all day and shared the wood between three households. It is always a fun weekend when the weather is sunny and cool like it was this year. As you can imagine, morale is low when we have frigid temperatures and rain but, this year, we were fortunate to have a sunny but cool day to work. I look forward to transitioning from indoor fires to outdoor firepits in the coming months!