Traumatic Brain Injuries – An Introduction

Today we begin our 2015 series of helpful articles on Brain Injury.

Understanding the Basics of Brain Injury Starts With Anatomy

In order to understand the significance of any traumatic brain injury, a basic understanding of anatomy and physiology is certainly helpful.  If we want to comprehend the extent of any bodily injury and repair process, one must first look at typical structure and function.The Brain

The brain is broken down into various regions, sometimes referred to as lobes, and connects to the spinal cord by way of the brain stem.  Scientific and medical professionals may also refer to specific areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus, amygdala, and cerebellum, as individual structures that serve a more specific purpose in terms of function.

The organ itself is suspended in a viscous liquid known as cerebral spinal fluid.  Although the term ‘float’ has been used to describe how the brain sits within the cranial cavity, the brain is held into place by various connective tissues called meninges.  This prevents movement of our brains during regular to moderate activity.  In the event of a traumatic injury, excessive force can cause the brain to suddenly jar, jerk, or just harshly move around within the skull.

The brain is fed by a myriad of different arteries and vessels that wrap around the outermost areas of the brain, as well as weave into and through the innermost structures.  This system delivers imperative oxygen, as well as other nutrients to all areas of the brain.  In a healthy brain, blood never crosses into the brain matter, but rather smaller molecules can pass through the artery membranes and diffuse across, through, and around the neuronal cells of the brain matter itself.  Blood leaking into the brain is an immediate indication of injury.  There are four primary sources that feed blood into the cerebral areas, the right and left vertebral arteries, as well as the right and left carotid arteries, and the smaller intraneuronal arteries branch off from these.  Depending on the location of a traumatic brain injury, blood flow can be hindered to a significant portion of the brain if it occurs near one of these larger structures.

A healthy brain is comprised of various neuronal cell types that operate by sending electrical signals from one cell to another.  Thick nerves that send primary signals are called cranial nerves, and these are surrounded by a plethora of smaller nerves that penetrate and extend throughout the brain, eventually connecting to the brain stem.  Thousands of these cells create an incredibly complex highway of transmission lines that not only use charged ions to communicate, but also interact through the release, fluctuation, and binding of various hormones, also known as neurotransmitters.  Almost every bodily function requires a complicated series of electrical transmissions to and from multiple areas within the brain.  The most amazing part about this type of communication is the fact that it takes only a fraction of a second for our brains to send and process these signals.

Unlike bones or skin, our brains have a limited number of cells from which they can derive certain reparative functions.  From birth, we have a very exclusive pool of stem cells that can successfully grow into functioning neurons.  This is precisely why serious brain damage from some traumatic injuries can sometimes be irreversible.

Despite a limited number of neuron-intended stem cells, this organ has an incredible ability to grow and change.  Neural plasticity is the term used to describe the brain’s ability to adapt to certain situations.  For example, repeated stimulation and electrical activity in a given location might prompt the growth and development of new neurons.  Some brains are also capable of rerouting certain signals in the event of injury or atypical development.  Plasticity varies from one individual to the next, so making a specific prediction about repair or function improvement following a brain injury can be somewhat of a challenge.Logo-M-C-Only-2011

Now that you have a general understanding of brain anatomy and its ability to function, we can dive into the specifics of what exactly happens during a traumatic injury, how that might affect overall human function, and how the brain might attempt to repair itself.

Click here to jump to Article Two in the Series:  Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries

The car accident and personal injury lawyers at Martin + Colin, P.C., handle brain injury cases.  If you have been hurt in an accident due to the negligence of another person, our attorneys may be able to help.  Please email us by using the ‘Contact Us’ form on this page.

Call Now! (914) 771 7711

Victim Hurt in Bronx Car Accident Receives Settlement – Feb. 2015

The personal injury lawyers at Martin + Colin, P.C. have settled a lawsuit arising out of a car accident on Bronx Park East near Allerton Avenue in Bronx, New York.Smiling Young Woman

The plaintiff, a resident of the City of New York, Borough of the Bronx, was traveling alone on Bronx Park East at the intersection of Allerton Avenue, intending to make a right turn onto the Mosholu Parkway.  As he sat in his vehicle waiting to make the right turn, our client’s vehicle was struck from behind by another car.  The impact jolted our client and knocked him back and forth inside his car.

The injured car accident victim sought immediate medical treatment at Lawrence Hospital complaining of lower back stiffness, neck pain and shoulder pain.  He was evaluated, x-rays were taken and he was released.

For the next five months, our injured client suffered in silence, hoping the pain would go away and that he would recover from the accident.  However, the pain persisted and became increasingly unbearable.  The victim injured in the car crash had never complained of back pain prior to this accident.  Eventually, he sought additional medical treatment.  A neurologist immediately observed muscle spasms in the patient’s back, decreased range of motion and also suspected radiating pain.  Treatment with physical therapy was recommended and started.  When continued physical therapy treatment failed to return our injured client to his pre-accident physical condition, the lawsuit was commenced.

Injuries such as those suffered in this case often result in settlements ranging from $5,000 to $75,000, depending on the specific facts of each case.  In this lawsuit, the settlement amount was reduced because the victim sustained painful injuries during the car accident but did not receive medical treatment (except for one brief emergency room visit) for several months immediately following the accident.  Another factor reducing the settlement amount was the lack of objective medical testing confirming the injured accident victim’s complaints.

As stated in a prior post, jury verdicts for injuries causing low back pain, corroborated by objective medical testing, can exceed $100,000.00.  And let’s be clear: the lack of objective medical testing does not mean a lack of pain.  However, the lack of objective medical test results to corroborate an injured person’s complaints can, and often does, reduce the amount of money an insurance company is willing to pay to settle a claim.

The injury lawyers at Martin + Colin, P.C. leveraged their expertise handling similar cases and successfully convinced the other driver’s insurance company that a good settlement was better than an unfavorable jury verdict; and as this case was venued in Bronx County, a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff could have cost the insurance company a much larger sum of money.  However, our client preferred the certainty of settlement rather than the risk of trial, and during settlement negotiations, we were able to settle the case to the satisfaction of the client.

Call us now at (914) 771 7711 and let us apply our expertise to your case.

Settlement for Bronx Resident Involved in Car Accident on Southern State Parkway – Dec 2014

Martin Colin, P.C. announces the settlement of a Bronx car accident lawsuit which had been vigorously fought by the insurance company since it was initially filed two years ago.iStock_000001647108_ExtraSmall

Our client, the injured plaintiff, who is a resident of the Bronx, New York, was driving his car westbound on the Southern State Parkway in Nassau County on a summer day in 2013.  Our client observed slow moving traffic ahead on the Southern State Parkway and reduced his speed accordingly.  However, another driver traveling westbound behind the plaintiff’s vehicle did not slow down in time and ended up rear ending our client’s vehicle.  After the accident, the injured plaintiff declined an ambulance to the nearest hospital, and instead drove himself to his preferred medical center, Lawrence Hospital, in Bronxville, New York, where he was examined and treated. During this visit, the physically injured driver complained of severe neck pain and radiating back pain.  Health care professionals at the hospital did a CT scan of the lumbrosacral spine, which indicted that there were several disc bulges at L-2 to L-5 with impingement of nerve roots.  This objective test result was consisted with the client’s claim of back injury with radiating pain.  Afterward, our client received medical treatment from different physicians for treatment of his neck pain and back pain.  He was prescribed pain medication and physical therapy, and was also instructed to undergo an MRI.

Since the accident, the injured driver continued to receive medical treatment and attended physical therapy sessions. However despite all the therapy, he continued to have severe back pain, and was classified as having a permanent partial disability.  Due to the fact that physical therapy has not alleviated his symptoms, a treating physician requested that the driver injured in the car crash continue with his home exercises and follow up with further medical treatment.

The case was vigorously defended by a team of Manhattan lawyers who contended that: 1) our client was not injured at all; 2) even if he was feeling pain, it was not caused by the car accident; 3) even if he was injured, it was so minor it was not worth a lawsuit; and 4) any damage to his lower back, as shown on the MRI, resulted from his physical activity as a handyman and not as a result of the car accident on the Southern State Parkway.

However, during sworn questioning prior to trial, our attorneys discovered that the driver of the offending vehicle had just purchased the vehicle the day before, and was driving the car for the first time.  Moreover, we pointed to the several thousand dollars of vehicle damage as evidence that the car accident involved a significant impact, capable of causing substantial physical injury to the occupant inside the vehicle stopped in traffic.

Prior to trial, the insurance company lawyers filed a motion in court to dismiss our case, in its entirety, claiming that there was insufficient evidence that our client sustained the minimum injury necessary for an auto accident lawsuit.  But the insurance company also agreed to attempt settlement of the case through a mediator.  Our attorneys prepared a detailed summary for the mediator, demonstrating both the strength of our case as well as a the extent of the physical injuries.  After a lengthy mediation session, in which the injured client himself also participated, we eventually obtained a favorable settlement for our client.

The injury lawyers at Martin Colin, P.C., headquartered in White Plains, New York, handle accident claims, negligence and personal injury cases.  If you have been hurt in an accident due to the negligence of another person, our attorneys may be able to help.  Please call (914) 771 7711 or email using the ‘Contact Us’ form on this page.

Cash Settlement for Injured Driver in Rear-End Car Accident – April 2014

Martin Colin, P.C. announces a cash settlement for a driver injured in a car accident in the Village of Ossining, County of Westchester, New York.

2012_Woman_Sitting_Beside_Car_iStock_000020361024_ExtraSmallThe plaintiff, a resident of Ossining, in Westchester, New York, was the driver of her own vehicle traveling eastbound on Croton Avenue in Ossining, New York in 2013.  She had stopped at a red light when she was struck from the rear by the defendant’s vehicle. The plaintiff had her 9 year old daughter and 15 year old niece in the vehicle while the accident happened.  There was obvious physical damage to both vehicles visible to the naked eye.

Our client, the injured plaintiff, did not feel any immediate pain from it.  However pain in her back increased throughout the night due to this unfortunate incident.  Approximately 6 days after the accident, the plaintiff started physical therapy in Sleepy Hollow to treat her pain and the dysfunction of her thoracic and lumbar spine.  She described the pain as a burning sensation at a consistent level of 8 on a scale of 1 to 10.  As the physical therapy was not alleviating the pain, she began acupuncture.  The acupuncture treatment succeeded in reducing the pain but did not render the injured plaintiff pain-free. Despite all of the medical treatment, physical therapy and acupuncture sessions our client endured, she continued to feel pain in her back as a result of the car accident.

As soon as we were hired, we pressed our claim for money damages for our client to compensate her for her pain and suffering, which continues to the present day.  We successfully convinced the insurance company for the offending driver that in the past, jury verdicts for similar back injuries, corroborated by objective medical testing, often exceeding $100,000.  After conducting their own investigation, and reviewing our injured client’s medical treatment, we obtained a settlement for our client.  Not only was the client happy with the amount of the settlement, but she was relieved that we were able to settle the claim within a year of the car crash.

Six-Figure Settlement for Car Accident with Soft Tissue Injuries – Nov. 2013

Martin Colin P.C. announces the six-figure settlement of a Dutchess County car accident case pending in the federal court, i.e., the United States District Court in White Plains, New York.iStock_000001647108_ExtraSmall

The owner and operator of the other vehicle involved in this lawsuit were insured by Progressive Insurance. The favorable car accident settlement provides substantial compensation to the victim and his family, and brings the lawsuit to an end without having to proceed to trial.

The plaintiff, a resident of Wingdale, in Dutchess County, New York, was the driver of his own vehicle traveling to work on Route 22 near River Road in the Town of Pawling, New York. The defendants were the owner and the operator of a vehicle traveling in the same direction. At a bend in the road, the defendant driver apparently dozed off, or was distracted, and did not notice that the plaintiff’s vehicle and the other vehicles in front of him had come to a complete stop as the lead vehicle was making a right turn.  As the defendant driver was not paying attention to the road in front of him, he continued to drive at a full speed and crashed with full force into the rear of plaintiff’s vehicle.  Defendant’s vehicle struck plaintiff’s vehicle with such force as to cause plaintiff’s vehicle to strike the car in front of it, spin around and come to rest facing in the opposite direction.

Our client was driven by ambulance from the car accident scene to the nearest hospital.  He complained of knee, back and shoulder pain continuously since the accident.  Conservative medical treatment, including physical therapy, has failed to eliminate the right knee pain.  Although he has had no surgeries, our client was unable to resume employment and forced into retirement. 2013 Happy Mother-Child

As soon as we were hired, we thoroughly evaluated our case, and hired an expert to calculate the amount of lost earnings that our client would not be receiving due to his forced early retirement as a result of this accident.  We then added the expert’s calculation of lost earnings to our own calculation of the value of our client’s non-economic loss to increase the value of this case. 

After several court appearances, our auto accident attorneys engaged in lengthy settlement negotiations, at times using a private mediator, and eventually obtained a six-figure settlement for our very satisfied client.