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Brain Injury - A Ticking Time Bomb

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   November 26, 2011 13:40

It was sad to read about the death of a fellow Zimbabwean, Mbongeni Ndlovu, 28, who died in Oldham, UK. He died from severe head injuries following an alleged assault.

He was taken by ambulance to the Royal Oldham Hospital but police say he refused to co-operate, with suggestions that he may have discharged himself.

The most important question from this tragic story is whether or not there were missed opportunities to save him? His death caused imponderable grief to his family and friends. It also touched the hearts of many people who did not know him before.

Head injury is a ticking time bomb. The main danger of a head injury is bleeding and brain swelling. The earlier the patient is treated, the better the prognosis. Therefore, it is important to recognise the sinister symptoms that could suggest a severe head injury which needs investigations such as head scanning (head CT scan). These include a period of loss of consciousness, drowsiness, worsening headaches, confusion, strange behaviour, speech problems, vomiting particularly in the morning, dizziness,  loss of balance, weakness of an arm or leg, blurring of vision, seeing double, blood oozing from the ear, clear fluid leaking from an ear or nose, deafness and breathing problems.

In view of the fact that the symptoms of a severe head injury may not develop straight away, the victim of a head injury should have someone with them for at least the first 48 hours after the event. Often, assault charges are changed to murder when the assault did not appear to have caused grievous harm at the time of report, then resulted in death from a head injury days to weeks later. Hospitals do not usually discharge someone without some advice and some patients are kept in hospital if there is no one at home to monitor them.

It is advisable not to take alcohol and drugs that cause drowsiness, for example sleeping tablets and strong pain killers. These could confuse the picture.

There are many cases where a victim had contact with either the police or hospital prior to succumbing to a head injury. This appears to be the case with Mbongeni Ndlovu.

In some cases, the sinister symptoms of a severe head injury may not be present at the time of contact, but the mode of injury should arouse suspicion. Lack of co-operation by a victim is frustrating to law enforcement officers, however this could be the only significant symptom suggestive of a severe head injury. When the victim has alcohol on board, their lack of co-operation, violence, confusion, unsteadiness and slurred speech may be attributed to alcohol, only for the victim to be found dead at home or in a prison cell.

In UK, there are reports of a small number of cases (6% of all the deaths in police custody) where the actions of the police were directly attributable to the detainee’s death. Unfortunately, the statistics for head injuries in police custody in Zimbabwe could not be obtained. This is a controversial subject and the police are often accused of brutality, impetuous behaviour, racism and cover-ups.

In some of the cases, the presence of either drugs or alcohol may have played a part by increasing the person’s readiness to resist arrest and reducing their susceptibility to pain. After the hullabaloo and trauma of an arrest, the police should have a duty of care to their detainee and refer him for an assessment by a doctor if a head injury is suspected.

A knock on the head is common and usually there is nothing to worry about. The most common causes of severe head injuries are road traffic accidents, falls and assault. Although head injuries are common, death from head injury is low. Very few patients with head injuries (1-2%) require admission to hospital. Only a minority of patients, about 0.2% of all patients attending accident and emergency departments, with a head injury will die as a result.

The majority of all people who sustain a head injury are male and assaults account for a significant number of those who sustain a head injury (30-50%) and alcohol is involved in a significant number of cases.

If you sustain a head injury and you develop some of the symptoms I have described above, you need to be seen by a doctor urgently.  Your health is your priority, so take care of yourself.

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Study Suggests, Pine Tree Extract Helpful in Treating Brain Injury Survivors

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   November 22, 2011 15:26

A new study has suggested that using pine tree extract can help facilitate healing in traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients.
Researchers at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) are examining the use of supplements developed from New Zealand pine tree bark. The belief is this extract can possibly aid in improving the cognitive difficulties that often emerge after an individual sustains a TBI.Professor Valery Feigin, Director of AUT’s National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neuroscience, is leading the team of researchers looking at the effects of Enzogenol, which is a Pinus Radiata bark extract, on a group of individuals who sustained a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Enzogenol is the brand name given to the supplements.According to a press release issued today, Fagin said,
“Every day, 90 New Zealanders sustain a brain injury, ranging from mild to severe. Acquired brain injury - including stroke and traumatic brain injury - is the leading cause of disability and death in this country costing our health system an estimated $100 million per year.“Many supplements claim health benefits, however this research is one of very few evidence-based treatments. Until now, there has been a lack of effective medication for mild TBI. Other than brain exercises, there are limited treatments available to improve damage as a result of TBI.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cognitive issues can emerge in the form of concentration problems, attention difficulties, memory problems and/or orientation problems.Cognitive difficulties are not uncommon after suffering a TBI, whether it be a mild, moderate or severe injury. TBI patients often go through cognitive therapy, sometimes for years, after sustaining a brain injury.For the pilot study, researchers tracked 60 individuals who were experiencing cognitive difficulties, for either a six or 12 week period of time. The goal was to investigate the effectiveness of Enzogenol to see if it made any difference in cognitive deficiencies three to 12 months post-injury.Preliminary results suggest an improvement in daily cognitive functioning.Senior Research Fellow Dr Alice Theadom said in the press release,
“The pilot trial has revealed some promising findings for use of the Enzogenol supplement to improve everyday cognitive failures. We’ll now be looking at conducting a full scale clinical trial to determine the effectiveness.”
In New Zealand "brain injuries caused by stroke, motor vehicle crashes, sports injuries, assaults and falls are the leading cause of disability and death." Brain injuries costs about $NZ100 million ($76.07 million) a year, according to the Herald Sun. In the U.S. an estimated 1.7 million people sustain a TBI annually, of which 52,000 die, 275,000 are hospitalized and 80 percent are treated and released from hospital emergency rooms. These figures do not include those who have not sought treatment, or are unaware they have suffered a TBI, as is often the case with concussions and mild head injuries.The results of this pilot study were given at New Zealand's first national conference on stroke and applied neuroscience. The primary researchers hope to conduct a full scale study to determine the effectiveness of using pine tree bark in connection with TBI treatments.


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Understanding Brain Injury in Soldiers

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   November 20, 2011 16:17

When the dust settled, two soldiers were strewn along the Kandahar City street, a diplomat was dead and Pte. William Salikin was trapped inside what remained of the crumpled military jeep.

It was 1:25 p.m. on Jan. 15, 2006. The driver of a bomb-laden Toyota van that zipped out from a tangle of taxis took the life of diplomat Glynn Berry, the legs of Master Cpl. Paul Franklin and left Cpl. Jeffrey Bailey face down in a sewage ditch. His severe head injuries would leave him in a medically induced coma for two months.

Salikin, who was 22, had several broken bones, burns and spinal cord injuries. But it was the damage from having his head thrown against the rear window of the Mercedes G-Wagon that heralded his entry into the ranks of those injured soldiers who have most confounded the Canadian Forces, those with mild traumatic brain injury.

Invisible to the human eye, it is hauntingly real to those who have been targeted by improvised explosive devices, pounded by rocket-propelled grenades and shunted violently around the Afghan battlefield.

The rise of the roadside bomb as the signature weapon of the decade-long war, coupled with the advances in protective equipment, means more soldiers have survived the staggering blasts.

Their brains are another story. They’ve suffered indignities that doctors are only beginning to understand.

This much is known: mild traumatic brain injury, or concussions, can steal sleep, memory, physical abilities and the moods of the fighting fit. Its symptoms are frighteningly similar to post-traumatic stress disorder and doctors fret about whether one causes the other.

Salikin’s head injury wiped his memory of the blast, slurred his speech and left him with anger issues that have taken him almost six years to recover from.

“That blast is simultaneously the scariest thing that’s happened to somebody, and at the same time it’s a physical insult, like a baseball bat hitting you hard,” said Rakesh Jetly, the Canadian Forces’ chief psychiatrist.

It’s also stealing the careers of hundreds of those who signed up to serve their country.

In stark contrast to the United States military, the Canadian Forces has never said how many of its soldiers have been diagnosed with brain injuries.

Whether it doesn’t know or simply refuses to make the figures public is unclear.

The military’s line is that concussions affect 6.4 per cent of soldiers who’ve been to Afghanistan. It’s much lower than the 12 to 20 per cent of American soldiers estimated to have suffered brain injuries and — whether higher or lower — it’s likely inaccurate.

That’s because the figure originates with a survey of 1,817 soldiers from 2009, just 4.7 per cent of all Canadians who have fought in the country since 2001.

That study attributed the lower statistics to the Canadian military’s shorter, six-month rotations overseas, though more recent studies have suggested a free-for-all public health-care system like Canada and the United Kingdom may provide less incentive to seek immediate care, compared to America’s more onerous private system.

In short, according to the theory, U.S. military personnel know they have a limited-time offer for state-of-the art care paid for by their government.

There are only 278 Canadian soldiers since May 2004 who have ended up on the disability payroll at Veterans Affairs Canada, according to statistics provided to the Star.

But brain injury experts say the problem is likely under-reported, even in cases where soldiers have suffered multiple concussions — a likely scenario for the more than 10,000 front-line personnel who have served two or more tours in Afghanistan.

Based on the volume of cases that Dr. Shawn Mitchell sees in the clinics he runs at the Ottawa Rehabilitation Centre — the closest such facility to CFB Petawawa — he thinks soldiers may try to overcome or live with their symptoms rather than seek help.

“First of all, there’s a culture of denying it, just like in sport, because they want to go back,” he said.

That could spawn a serious public-health problem among veterans.

“If it’s not being picked up, these people deteriorate. They get worse. The other problem is that if it gets missed and gets labelled, they’ll become disabled.”

That hits a sensitive spot with the military. Officials started screening for concussions in 2009, capturing only those cases that emerged in the last two years of the war.

 

Since then, the Americans have dubbed traumatic brain injury the signature wound of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, they’ve set up specialized brain injury recovery clinics at Kandahar and on other bases overseas, and the NATO allies have launched an intensive three-year study into the problem that will wrap up in 2013. It’s being led by Dr. Bryan Garber, a Canadian.

“That’s huge, the level of respect that Canada has within NATO on these issues,” Jetly said.

Despite the activity, little is known about the causes, symptoms and treatments for traumatic brain injury.

“I think we’ve added structure to something that was maybe not as structured,” said Lt.-Col. Markus Bessemann, the military’s head of rehabilitation medicine. “I don’t know that there have been any major breakthroughs either in diagnoses or treatment.”

For now, the military is trying to treat the symptoms it sees in the hopes the science will catch up.

Sleep,says Jetly, is the “cardinal problem” for soldiers who have post-traumatic stress disorder and for depressed personnel, as well as those with mild traumatic brain injury. But medical researchers haven’t come up with the “magic bullet” telling doctors how to identify which symptoms go with which ailment.

“We can chase forever trying to find out why, or we can work on it,” Jetly says. “The key ends up being that when you look at these people who make these sacrifices for their country, the ethical thing for us to do is to look at them very carefully afterward and, if things have changed for the worse, aggressively look at them and do what you can to help.”

In the case of Salikin, now a corporal, that help has taken six years to return him to where he was on the morning of Jan. 15, 2006. After being threatened with a medical discharge from the military, he was last year awarded the Sacrifice Medal, an honour reserved for soldiers wounded in battle.

The agonizing hours of physiotherapy and frustration are almost behind him, just like the Canadian combat mission in which he was injured. Now he is moving back to CFB Edmonton and preparing to rejoin his fellow soldiers with the Third Batallion of the Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry.

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An Injured Alcoholic Brain

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   November 20, 2011 16:02

Alcoholic brains work harder to accomplish even simple tasks as compared to their sober counterparts, a new study has found.

Chronic drinking is associated with abnormalities in the structure, metabolism and function of the brain, and one of the consequences of these deficits is impairment of motor functioning.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during a finger-tapping exercise, found that the frontal lobe and cerebellum activities were less integrated in alcoholic individuals.

“The relationship was weaker in alcoholic people, even a week after they had stopped drinking,” Baxter Rogers, the lead author said.

Rogers and his colleagues used fMRI to examine 10 uncomplicated chronic alcoholic patients after five to seven days of abstinence and once signs of withdrawal were no longer present, as well as 10 matched healthy controls.

Finger tapping recruits portions of both the cerebellum and frontal cortex, Rogers said, and previous research strongly suggested that both are affected in alcoholism, especially the cerebellum.

“We used fMRI because it measures the function of the entire brain painlessly and non-invasively.

“And it can identify specific brain regions that are involved in tasks, and that are affected in disease,” he said.

The researchers found that alcoholic patients could produce the same number of finger taps per minute as did the normal controls, but employed different parts of the brain to do it.

“This suggests that alcoholics needed to compensate for their brain injury.

“They may need to expend more effort, or at least a different brain response, to produce a normal outcome on simple tasks because they are unable to utilize the brain regions needed in an integrated fashion,” he added.

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100 Former NFL Players Contribute to Neurology Study

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   November 19, 2011 12:07

It is widely known that football players suffer a range of injuries on the field. Recently, brain damage has become the highlighted injury because it builds up over time and its effects are commonly observed years after retirement from the game.

Now, researchers are working with former NFL players, studying their brains to develop methods for better diagnosis of brain function and damage. Currently, the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is working with more than 70 donated brains from athletes who have died, and they hope to enroll living retired players to learn more about the development of later in life conditions. 

For their study, researchers are interested in NFL players who have played on the field and in position with significant contact, indicating higher potential for repeated brain trauma. In general, long football careers ensure an extensive history of injury to the head. However, recorded multiple concussions are not a requirement for the study because in some situations, players do not know when they had a concussion, and brain damage can occur from repeated blows to the head. The brain function and structure of former NFL players are being compared with non-contact sport athletes, such as retired swimmers and tennis players.
 
This brain research is not only helping former player receive treatment, but the results from the study will have major effects on future players. With a documented link between brain damage and the sport, more safeguards and regulations may be put in place to protect the players and reduce injury.In addition, the researchers are interested in learning about the genetics behind Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy(CTE). It is still unknown why some athletes who receive repeated head blows develop CTE, while others do not develop this condition.
  
The funding grant is also supported by the National Institute of Neurologic Diseases and Stroke, the National Institute on Aging, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. This team of researchers spans over 20 co-investigators, including researchers at Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.
  
 

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Studies Show a Higher Risk of Brain Injury in Preemies

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   November 19, 2011 12:02

Scientists say they are beginning to understand why brain injuries are so common in very premature infants — and they are coming up with strategies to prevent or repair these injuries.

The advances could eventually help reduce the number of premature babies who develop cerebral palsy, epilepsy or behavioral disorders such as ADHD, researchers told the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington, D.C., this week.

Each year more than 60,000 babies are born weighing less than 3.3 pounds. And because of advances in neonatal medicine over the past several decades, most of those babies will survive. But researchers have had less success finding ways to prevent brain damage in these infants.

"That means that overall rates of cerebral palsy and other neurodevelopmental disabilities are on the rise," says David Rowitch, chief of neonatology at the University of California, San Francisco.

The most common cause of brain injury in premature infants is a lack of oxygen in the days and weeks after birth, Rowitch says. The lack of oxygen damages white matter, which provides the "communication highways" that carry messages around the brain and to distant parts of the body, he says.

 

And the babies at greatest risk of this sort of brain damage are those born after as little as six months of gestation, Rowitch says.

"Such a baby would weigh about a pound and would fit into the palm of your hand," he says. "As you can imagine, they're very fragile and vulnerable to stresses."

Those stresses often include periods when an infant's immature lungs are not delivering enough oxygen to the brain, even with help from a mechanical breathing device.

This lack of oxygen appears to damage the most common type of white matter, myelin, which acts like an insulator around the nerve fibers that carry messages in the brain and nervous system. Without enough myelin, short circuits can prevent these messages from getting through, Rowitch says.

He initially found evidence of white matter damage by studying brains from premature infants who died. But since then, he's been able to assess premature infants using a special incubator designed to fit in an MRI scanner.

"We've been able to now take over 250 babies who are very preterm to the MRI scanner safely to show that this is a feasible way to detect white matter injury early on," he says.

Now the question is how to prevent or repair that sort of injury.

Some studies show that it's important to act right away, says Vittorio Gallo from Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

"There is a very critical developmental time window right after birth," Gallo says. "If development is disturbed during this critical time window then the brain doesn't catch up."

Gallo is part of a team of scientists who have shown that it is possible to intervene — at least in mice. One approach involves giving the mice a drug that speeds up production of myelin, he says.

"We do this intervention right after the injury," he says. "And we found that by targeting specific targets we can recover and regenerate at least part of these cells right after the injury, during that critical developmental time window."

Any drug for people is still years off, Gallo says

But other scientists at the meeting say there are promising treatments available now. These include everything from the magnetic stimulation of certain areas of the brain to temporarily lowering the body temperature of premature infants to protect brain tissue.

And if any of the approaches work, the benefits are likely to extend far beyond infants, says Mark Goldberg of UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

"This white matter injury happens in perinatal brain injury. It happens in multiple sclerosis. It happens in traumatic brain and spinal cord injury. It happens in stroke," Goldberg says. "So we hope very much that the kind of therapeutic directions that work in one system can be applied directly to another system, another disease."

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Rates of Head Injury in Children is Dropping, Death rates Stay the Same

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   November 7, 2011 11:28

The number of children hospitalized for head injuries has decreased in recent years, a new study finds.

However, the rate of death from such injuries has remained about the same, even though doctors are using aggressive treatments to try to save these kids, the study found.

Newborns and African American children were at particularly high risk of dying after a head injury, the researchers said. To prevent such injuries, future research should try to determine why this is, and whether other groups are also at increased risk.

"The more we expose these high risk groups, the more we expose the vulnerable age groups and race disparities," the better able we are to tackle and prevent these injuries, said study researcher Dr. Justin Lee, a surgical resident at Baystate Children's Hospital in Springfield, Mass.

The study was presented Oct. 17 at the American Academy of Pediatrics meeting in Boston.

Head injuries in kids

Lee and colleagues used a database to identify cases of U.S. children who were hospitalized for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) between 2005 and 2008.

Examples of injuries included severe concussions, and injuries that cause bleeding inside the brain, Lee said.

The researchers found 175,261 pediatric traumatic brain injuries. Over the study period, the number of yearly injuries decreased from 50,088 to 36,884. This decrease is likely due to increased awareness about head injuries, and the use of helmets while bicycling, Lee said.

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However, the mortality rate remained at 3.5 percent for all three years.

The four main causes of injury were being hit by a car, being in a car that was in an accident, falling and biking accidents.

Some patients required aggressive operations, including removing part of their skull (a craniotomy), or placing a hollow bolt in their brain to monitor pressure in the skull, Lee said.

Newborns were 2.8 times more likely, and African American children were 1.4 times more likely, to die of their brain injury than other children.

It's possible lower access to health care may explain the increased risk of mortality in African American children, Lee said.

Prevention

By the time children require aggressive treatments for head injuries, they are already at a high risk of dying, Lee said.

"It's not that the procedures weren’t good enough to rescue them," Lee said. "It’s the mere fact that they even required those procedures, put them at a high risk of death," he said.

The findings suggest the key to reducing deaths from head injuries may lie not in better treatments, but in preventing these injuries in kids who are likely to suffer from them.

"It's not necessarily what we do inside the hospital," Lee said. "It's what happens pre-hospital. That is what's really going to determine the morality."

The new study has not yet been published in a scientific journal.

Pass it on: The number of head injuries in children is decreasing, but the rate of deaths from these injuries has not changed.

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Behind Sidney Crosby's Comeback

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   November 4, 2011 10:42

 

Ted Carrick is listening to Sidney Crosby’s heart. The NHL superstar is strapped into a computerized rotating chair that has just spun him like a merry-go-round.

It is, as Carrick likes to tell people who visit his lab at Life University near Atlanta, one of only three “whole-body gyroscopes” in the world, and it’s integral to his work as the founding father of “chiropractic neurology.” He uses it to stimulate certain injured and diseased brains.

Crosby, who plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins and has been famously sidelined with a concussion since January, is Carrick’s newest patient, and this day in August is the first time they’ve met. Carrick leans in close, his balding, tanned head looming inches from Crosby’s face, and rests the stethoscope on his chest. “Let’s make sure you’re not dead.”

Carrick then signals to restart the gyroscope—with one difference. This time Crosby will be turned upside-down while he is also spun around. He hasn’t experienced this dual action yet. The door clangs shut. Above it, a stack of red, yellow and green lights shines while 10 high-pitched beeps signal the gyroscope is about to start. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!

A low hum floods the room as the gyroscope begins its 20-second “montage” of rotations. With each flip, Crosby grips the black handles flanking his thighs, his face reddens and his jaw clenches. Before long, the gyroscope, called GyroStim, winds down. “Perfect,” Carrick concludes.
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Since January, when the hockey world was dealt a blow unlike any other it had ever experienced, fans have made Google searches of “Crosby” and “concussion” move in tandem as they try to make sense of what has happened to their favourite player. The best player since Wayne Gretzky was suddenly knocked out of the game indefinitely because of an invisible injury: no blood on the ice, no cracks on any X-rays and no way to know how bad was the damage done.

Scientists, doctors and equipment makers have used Crosby as a talking point to raise awareness and as a case study in the complexity of concussion. The NHL is embroiled in a polarizing debate over fighting in hockey—how to keep it in, but make it safe? And nervous hockey parents everywhere are reconsidering whether their children should keep playing. How Crosby recovers will help them decide.

Maclean’s obtained exclusive access to the lab where Crosby saw Carrick, and learned about his unique methods of treating brain injuries. While the details of Crosby’s personal health data remain private, over the course of two days, the magazine was granted access to a range of information about the treatments used on patients, including him. During that time in late September and early October, anastonishing assortment of patients came through the clinic. A wealthy businessman and his son. A prominent NFL player. An aging biology teacher who’d had a stroke. A boy with brain damage sustained after a van ran him over. A middle-aged physician who’d lost his ability to talk or walk after a tick bite. In every case, Carrick ran through a version of the same evaluation, exercises and equipment he used on Crosby. “We saw something like nine MDs, neurologists, cardiologists,” says one patient’s relative. “I’ve seen nothing that compares to this.”

The wait list to see Carrick can be as long as three years, though in some cases, such as with Crosby, patients can be expedited. By the time they met in Georgia, the reality of what Crosby could lose if he didn’t get better soon was abundantly and uncomfortably clear: his career, his endorsements, the adoration of an entire nation.

However strange that first day of treatment in the gyroscope was for Crosby, it proved encouraging enough that he continued seeingCarrick for the whole next week. They’d meet as early as seven in the morning, and they’d go as late as six at night, says Carrick, running through a circuit of high-tech equipment and low-tech exercises in the lab and at the local hockey rink. By the time Crosby travelled back to Pittsburgh, Carrick says, “he was better than, you know, super-normal.” The Penguins’ medical team, who have been overseeing Crosby’s recovery, also saw an improvement: they ran computerized tests called IMPACT to compare his current neurocognitive abilities with what they were before the concussion. The results: not quite “super-normal,” but “the best we’ve seen” since Crosby got hurt, as MichaelCollins, a neuropsychologist who has been treating him for months said at the Sept. 7 press conference to update Crosby’s health.

“Carrick had a very prominent role in Sidney’s current recovery status,” Brisson, Crosby’s agent, told Maclean’s. “He progressed extremely well under Carrick.” Just 10 days after the press conference, Crosby joined his teammates on the ice for the first day of training camp. Three-and-a-half weeks after that, Crosby was cleared for contact—the final step before returning to play. Now, after nearly a year of nagging symptoms that have included fogginess, light-headedness and nausea so paralyzing Crosby couldn’t drive or watch TV, and after a slew of setbacks each time he pushed too hard while exercising or skating, the greatest hockey player of this generation is verging on a comeback—perhaps because of a relatively unknown therapy he received at a relatively unknown university from a relatively unknown man who isn’t even a medical doctor.

Come what may, Carrick has set out to do what no amount of time or rest or other expert has managed to accomplish so far: rebuild Sid’s brain.

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The Truth Behind Brain Injury

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   November 2, 2011 09:55

Brain injuries happen for many reason and affect everyone who has suffered one in different ways.

For Golden residents Garrett Appleton and Jennifer Maddock, injuries to their brains came at different points in their lives and have led to different challenges.

Appleton  is now a 23-year-old who works at Sobeys. When he was only four months old a type of bacterial meningitis changed what the idea of normal would be.

“When I grew up I felt (the way I was) was normal. What ‘normal people’ say is supposed to be normal, is not what normal is to me,” Appleton said.

One of the biggest issues for Appleton growing up was suffering very serious seizures.

“The difference for me was dropping down and having a seizure. That is the big difference. I do not have many seizures but when I do they are big,” Appleton said.

Maddock suffered her injury in a different way. She worked  at CIBC and is now on disability due to the effects of the meningitis which doctors have told her was a one in a million chance of contracting.

“To look at me I look fine. I look normal, but it is not the outside that is the problem. It is my brain which is different now,” Maddock said.

She developed a viral meningitis which caused encephalitis. This in turn caused her to have seizures. She explained that she has had some problems with her memory and that explaining things to people can cause her issues.

They both deal with questions in their everyday life because people do not completely understand the severity of the injury. The fact their injuries are hidden in their brains and they function fairly well in society causes some confusion for people who think they look fine on the outside.

“We are normal people but my brain does not work like it used to,” Maddock said.

Both Maddock and Appleton are members of the East Kootenay Brain Injury Association.

“For me it has been a place to go to help me. There are people out there in similar situations. They have been awesome in helping me with things such as paper work and things I would normally be able to do on my own. It frustrates me that I can’t anymore, but they help me deal with that. It is nice to know you have that support in your community and there are people who can share their situations,” Maddock said.

The East Kootenay Brain Injury Association is working hard to increase community education and awareness of Acquired Brain Injury(ABI). Throughout the year at various venues:  schools, service clubs, faith organizations, trade fairs, community organizations, public meetings, they speak and have displays.  They have been working with different groups in the region to provide programs that are effective in educating and making people aware of ABI.

The group promotes the use of helmets in sports all year long, not just summer.  Whether it be on a bicycle or a snow sport, the helmet is effective in the prevention of brain injury.

On the group’s website it states “It is important to recognize that brain injury also occurs through non-traumatic causes such as:  stroke, anoxia, substance abuse and heart attacks.  The effects are equally devastating for the individual and families.  If  you  have acquired a brain injury from a sporting activity, fall or any other cause,  know there is help and you do not have to do this alone.”

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Former Soccer Player, Taylor Twellman Retires due to Concussions

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   November 1, 2011 11:43

Taylor Twellman spoke at a conference focusing on brain trauma and concussions on Oct. 28. The former New England Revolution forward retired from MLS in 2010 because of concussions. At the conference, Twellman pointed out that education about this injury was still lacking and needed to improve. Although he left the impression that the Revolution ignored his problem, he explained this further on his official Twitter account.

Soccer
morguefile/karpati

Concussion Problems

Taylor Twellman suffered from multiple concussions during his MLS career. At the press conference for his retirement in 2010, he stated, "I hate the fact that my career has ended on a brain injury." However, he added that he viewed this as an opportunity to educate others about concussions and raise awareness.

Twellman's retirement has not stopped his complete participation in the sport. He is involved with a player program with youth camps, prep camps and recruiting programs. He has also created THINK TAYLOR to help athletes with brain injuries.

Response on Twitter

Twellman's comments at the Oct. 28 conference have drawn a strong response. He has been accused by fans of blaming the New England Revolution for ignoring his injury. Taylor Twellman has responded on his official Twitter account by stating that the team did not ignore his concussion. He also pointed out, "I am not in the business of finger pointing and never will be regarding my #concussion." He emphasized that the point of the Oct. 28 conference was education, and this was his only goal.

Concussions in the MLS

Players continue to struggle with concussions in the MLS. Jimmy Conrad was forced to retire from Chivas USA in 2011 because of a concussion. The Sounders FC goalie Terry Boss was put on the injury list as "disabled" in Oct. 2011 because of a large number of concussions. Chicago Fire captain Logan Pause suffered from a concussion in June 2011 and missed several games. Former Chicago Fire forward Calen Carr suffered from concussions for a long period of time with the team.

I think education about brain injuries is a necessity for both athletes and trainers. Unfortunately, symptoms are sometimes ignored, and athletes continue competing with the injuries. Taylor Twellman has decided to be an advocate for MLS players who suffer from brain trauma.

 

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