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Brain Injury Lawyer Urges Parents to Put Helmets on Children

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   May 30, 2011 10:07

Brain injury attorney Jason Byrd wants to let parents know that they have a responsibility to make sure their children are wearing helmets when operating ATVs. With ATVs causing a majority of child brain injury cases, it just makes sense for parents to demand that their children wear helmets.

“The brain oversees and controls the entire process of living, thinking and experiencing ,” Jason Byrd explains. “Unfortunately, many brain injuries are permanent in nature, and too much damage to the brain can often lead to either a vegetative state or death.” That said, once a child experiences head trauma, they may lose their ability to lead a normal life.

Jason Byrd is releasing this statement partly in response to a recent article on entitled “Adult-Sized ATVs Are Not Safe for Kids, Startling Statistics Show.” The article explains that ATV related injuries are on the rise and that the severity is increasing dramatically.

Byrd agrees wholeheartedly with the renowned Dr. Sawyer’s quote in the article where he states that “parents should use the same guidelines they would when allowing their children to drive cars,” meaning parents should set the rules for their children and force them to abide by them for the sake of their own safety.





The Power of Physical Therapy

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   May 30, 2011 10:04

GRAND RAPIDS -- DJ Little dreams of being a paleontologist or an archaeologist someday.

But first, he has set his sights on a goal close at hand: walking across the stage at his eighth-grade graduation ceremony.

When he does, each step will be a triumph, brought about by the love and dedication of his parents, therapists, teachers and, most of all, DJ’s strong will.

DJ, a 15-year-old Alger Middle School student, was hit by a car five and a half years ago. He suffered a broken left femur, a severe neck injury, internal bruising and a traumatic brain injury.

Since the accident, he has had to relearn everything: how to sit up, swallow food, feed himself, talk and, now, how to walk.

”Somebody was a little bit more stubborn than what the doctors thought,” said his mom, Lisa Shockey. She recalled how medical staff first predicted DJ would not survive more than 24 hours and, if he did, he would be “a vegetable.”

DJ, asked how he has managed to come so far, had a ready response.

”I never give up,” he said, his words coming slow but sure. “I didn’t give up on life.”
DJ will be one of nine eighth-graders from Alger’s POHI program -- for physically and otherwise health-impaired students -- taking part in the end-of-school ceremony Thursday (June 2) with the 150 general education students. The crossing-over ceremony marks their transition to Ottawa Hills High School.

”I’m so excited for him,” said Liesha Crawford. who has taught DJ for four years. “He really, really, really has learned more than we ever thought he would.”

D.J. Little suffered brain injury in 2005 when he was hit by a car and now is re-learning to do everything. Little has been practicing with a walker and with a cane, and plans to walk in his "crossing over ceremony," when he graduates from eighth grade at Alger Middle School on June 2. Watch video

The accident that changed DJ’s life happened on Dec. 3, 2005, when the family lived on Brooks Street in Muskegon Township. Ten-year-old DJ (David James)was a fourth-grader, a bright, inquisitive kid with an outgoing personality. He was so analytical that his father, Darren Shockey, said he talked to DJ as an adult.

DJ was crossing the street in front of his home when he was hit by a car. He spent the next month in a coma and a total of 10 months in hospitals and rehab centers before coming home.

His dad switched jobs, and his family moved to a one-story home in Kentwood to be closer to the medical care at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. DJ has undergone 17 operations -- repairing his elbow, leg and neck, getting a skin graft and other procedures -- and has his 18th planned for this summer.

His parents were told DJ probably would get as far as he could in his first year post-accident, but he has far exceeded that prediction.

When Sarah Willson, a physical therapist with Harbor Rehabilitation, met DJ four years ago, he was unable to roll over in bed without help. On a recent afternoon, she helped him stand up and grasp a cane, then coached him as he picked up his feet one at a time and moved forward, one slow step after another.

”Last week was the first time DJ made a full lap around the house,” Willson said, as they walked past the kitchen island. “Which just goes to show you, even four years after a brain injury, you can keep improving and progressing.”

Lisa Shockey credits the therapy DJ has received. He has physical and occupational therapy twice a week and speech therapy once a week at home. He also has therapy sessions at school, along with his academic subjects.

DJ’s hand shook on the cane at times, and his face was a study of concentration. But when someone praised his progress, he grinned.

Although his parents were cautioned his personality might change with the brain injury, they still see the same curious mind -- and especially his sense of humor. He still loves dinosaurs and country music. Thanks to his grandmother, he has a collection of signed photographs of country music stars.

”He has a wonderful sense of humor,” Crawford said. “I don’t think he’d be as far as he is if he didn’t.”

Because DJ has little short-term memory, making progress takes lots of effort and repetition.

”Getting anything into his long-term memory is unbelievably hard,” Crawford said.
She kept DJ for a second year of eighth grade because he made such progress last year. He went from not knowing that he had a binder to remembering to bring it to class and go through it to see what work needs to be done. He is working on multiplication facts. And he uses a color-coded system to distinguish nouns and verbs.

”He can verbalize his answers,” Crawford said. “He has great conversations. He’s very opinionated and he’s not afraid to tell you his opinion.”

DJ will continue in the POHI program at Ottawa -- and he looks forward to seeing his friends who have already moved onto high school.

This summer, his goal is to walk around the block. And he can’t wait ride the bike he ordered through Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.

What lies ahead in the long-term is anyone’s guess, his mother said.

”We just take it one day at a time,” she said. “And thank God for all the little miracles.”

”And the big one,” DJ reminded her with a smile. “Me.”




Brain injuries need care sooner

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   May 25, 2011 08:38

Trauma patients with major brain injuries are not getting to specialized neurosurgeons fast enough.

A study of transportation times for traumatic brain injury patients in Nova Scotia, published in this month’s edition of the Journal of Trauma, states that those patients should and could be in the care of Halifax-based neurosurgeons within three hours but that the current average transportation time is five hours.

"When you get beyond three to four hours, your likelihood of dying from a brain injury begins to increase significantly," said Dr. David Clarke, director of the neurotrauma program at the Capital district health authority.

"We need to look at ways to streamline transportation of brain-injured patients directly to Halifax so that they receive the best neurosurgical care sooner."

Clarke, who led the study along with Dr. John Tallon, said that between ambulances, a helicopter and a plane, Nova Scotia has the emergency transportation infrastructure to get patients to the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre within three hours.

The delay in getting patients with brain injuries to Halifax happens while they are being stabilized and assessed at the nearest hospital. He suggested that, on average, the delay for those patients is about 2½ hours.

"You may have a hemorrhage that may need to be taken out urgently, which could cause the patient to die," said Clarke.

"The only place you have that kind of specialized service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is in Halifax."

The study found that the majority of brain trauma patients fit within two groups — young men, often involved in motor vehicle accidents, and senior citizens who have suffered falls.

The next step, said Clarke, is to figure out the changes that need to be made to get those emergency patients to Halifax sooner.

"Making steps to ensure that the injured receive the necessary emergency care within the required amount of time can significantly improve health outcomes," Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald said in a news release.

"As part of our Better Care Sooner plan, we’re continuing to make emergency care more efficient . . . and this research gives us the opportunity to work closely with our health partners to improve trauma care for Nova Scotians and their families."




Acres Hockey School Focused on Concussion Prevention

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   May 25, 2011 08:32

PARKSVILLE, BC, May 24, 2011 /CNW/ - The game's best player hasn't played in months, another may have died months after an on-ice head injury. Concussions in hockey are serious business. Acres Hockey has joined forces with Brain Navigators to create the first concussion preventative hockey school in Canada. The Parksville, B.C. based hockey school's mission is to provide players with the Skills, Tools and Education for Prevention (S.T.E.P.) via the Bringing Smart Play to Hockey program.

"We have the ability and must do better as coaches" says Henry Acres-Program Director of Acres Hockey Training. "Basic skills training must take precedence over winning for our youth to continue to play hockey past the age of body-contact introduction. It's a fact the majority of Canadian kids are behind in skating, and puck handling compared to kids over there."

Acres would know having spent most of his 9-year pro career in Sweden and Finland. Colleen Butler, Founder of Brain Navigators knows the ugliness of living with brain trauma suffered in a car accident.  "2 weeks and you'll be fine." She was told by doctors. "Little did I know what was in store for me. Having survived this journey I vowed that my struggle should not be repeated by others. Education is vital to understanding that head injury recuperation time can be minimized with practical tools mentally and physically."

The core message of the hockey schools running July 18-20 and 24-28 for players 5-14 of age will be respect and education for brain injury prevention.





Rule, Policy Changes Needed to Stop Concussions: Expert

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   May 18, 2011 09:12

By: Kristen Odland, Calgary Herald

Calgary Herald - A researcher from the Boston University School of Medicine said radical change needs to happen in concussion prevention.

"We're not having very big conversations about (concussion prevention) and part of that needs to come from the top down in terms of rule changes, policy changes, training changes," said Chris Nowinski, a leading expert in concussions, who spoke Sunday to a gathering during the Head On Sport Head Injury Prevention Convention at the University of Calgary. "Luckily, we are having conversations with the bodies that are in charge of those things.

"It's education." Nowinski, a Harvard graduate and former WWE wrestler, has been educating the masses on concussion issues. He's the co-founder and president of the Sports Legacy Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to sports concussions, and the codirector of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University. Researchers there have set up a brain bank to investigate athletes for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease which causes cognitive decline, behavioural abnormalities including depression, and dementia.

The post-mortem analysis of brain tissue reveals concussions and nonconcussive blows could both be linked to the disease. About 400 athletes have agreed to donate their brains to the research facility when they die.

"It doesn't necessarily correlate to concussions right now, but that's because we haven't historically diagnosed them," Nowinski said. "It appears to be correlated to total brain trauma. We know that every hit to the head and every symptom counts."

On Sunday, the Sports Legacy Institute received word that the family of National Hockey League enforcer Derek Boogaard has donated his brain to the institution. Due to legal reasons, Nowinski couldn't speculate on Boogaard's situation.

Boogaard, who spent his first five seasons with the Minnesota Wild, was limited to 22 games last season with the New York Rangers due to a concussion and shoulder injury. He was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment Friday.

Concussion and spinal injury activist Kerry Goulet, who works alongside former NHLer Keith Primeau, told the audience Boogaard's family made the right decision in donating his brain to science.

"What a horrible, tragic incident that has happened," said Goulet, who suffered depression and the effects of concussions during a 16-year professional hockey career in Germany. "It brings back memories you just don't want to think about. It's a grieving time for the family; all of us a community of hockey and sports people are I'm sure sending out their regards for the family.

"And, hopefully, through his death and if it is in fact that it is something that has been dealt to him through concussion and possibly through the CTE situation, we learn from it."

Two cases of CTE in the NHL have been discovered.

Reggie Fleming died in 2009 at age 73 with dementia. Bob Probert, a 16-year veteran who died last summer after his heart gave out while he was fishing, suffered at least three concussions and struggled with substance abuse. He began to show signs of CTE in his 40s, such as memory loss and behavioural problems.

Both players were fighters.

The findings have fuelled the debate surrounding the need for rule changes in hockey, which largely came to the forefront when Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was sidelined with concussion symptoms this season.

"We knew it was real. I've been doing this for nine years and all of a sudden, now that Crosby's gone out of the game with a concussion, we take it really seriously," Goulet added. "People like Chris have been able to build an infrastructure for us to educate and hopefully make a difference in this thing."

Nowinski was speaking in Calgary along with Goulet, Calgary Stampeders medical services director Pat Clayton, Dr. Carolyn Emery, professor of pediatric rehabilitation at the University of Calgary, and Brady Greening, the director of health services and head athletic therapist at the Edge School.

All speakers alluded to the fact that children are much more susceptible to concussions. Nowinski said because their brains are developing, they are more sensitive to the excitotoxic shock of a concussion. Other factors are weak necks and torsos that can't distribute force of the body well, poor equipment, exposure to coaches of various levels of training, and have poor language skills to communicate concussion symptoms.

Helmets are one element in prevention, according to Nowinski, but rule and culture changes also need to be enforced.

"When we think about the problem with kids and playing contact sports," explained Nowinski. "We have to start thinking about the differences between adults and kids.

"If we're concerned about adults, we should be really, really, worried about kids."

Read more:



Fox Sports: Bradshaw shares battle with concussions

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   May 18, 2011 09:02

Well, fans, I’m going out and buying a ping pong table. The doctors say that will help improve my hand/eye coordination. It’s definitely not what it used to be. And I’m also doing some brain puzzle tests that I download off the Internet. Basically, I’m rehabbing my brain.


Today most athletes rehab after surgery from a knee or shoulder injury. Well, I’m learning how to prevent my brain from getting worse than it is after suffering a career worth of concussions playing football. When I played for the Steelers and I got my bell rung, I’d take smelling salts and go right back out there. All of us did that. We didn’t know any better. You don’t know how many times I was in the huddle, asking my teammates to help me call a play. After a few minutes, I’d be fine and I’d keep playing just like nothing had happened.

But lately I’ve really been struggling with my short-term memory. I was in Ruston, La., doing my annual fundraising golf tournament for my alma mater, Louisiana Tech, and I told a bunch of writers and TV folks back there what was going on with me. I was dead serious with them. It was definitely the first time I was back there that I didn’t crack a joke or smile. I think they knew I was serious because I was sweating so much, explaining what was going on with me.

Why did I go public? Well, I thought it would be good for a lot of players for this to get out, for me to tell my story because I was a quarterback. I know how much my late center Mike Webster suffered. I can only imagine what a lot of defensive players from my era are going through. I’ve talked with Howie Long about this. He understands what I’m going through. I just thought it would good for them to hear what I had to say. I also think other players should speak up and say what they’ve been experiencing. It’s good for the soul and your brain.


I spent a weekend at the Amen Clinic in Newport Beach, Calif., where I found out the cause of my short-term memory loss. I’ve had this horrible concentration problem for a while now — it took me 10 days to learn nine pages of a speech, something that would probably take you one or two days to learn. It’s obvious that my brain isn’t what it used to be. I’m taking memory power boost tablets to help me every day and doing the puzzles to help me stay focused.

Toward the end of last season on the FOX pregame show, maybe the last six weeks, I really started to forget things. That’s why I quit reciting statistics because I couldn’t remember them exactly and I stayed away from mentioning some players by name because I really wasn’t sure and I didn’t want to make a mistake. I’m on national TV in front of millions and I hate making mistakes. I told the people in Ruston that I suffered six concussions and numerous head injuries. I think that’s right, but I’m not really sure.

The memory loss made me jittery at times. It was driving me crazy that I couldn’t remember something that I studied the night before. All it did was trigger my anxiety and all of sudden everything would snowball on me. I know I have depression and it’s a horrible disease. This memory loss just made my depression worse.


By looking at the damage to my own brain, I can see now what I’m dealing with and what I have to do from making it worse. I definitely have issues, but I did pass most of the tests. I know what I have to do to maintain and do the FOX show and do my speeches without worrying all the time, making myself feel worse. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s something I have to stay on top of now.

I know the NFL has done a lot to help us and also to improve the conditions for today’s players in regards to helmets and head injuries. But it’s nowhere where it needs to be. Over 100 professional athletes have gone through the Amen Clinic. They are doing some amazing studies of the brain. But I really think it is important for players to talk about what they are going through after their playing days are over. The research, the talking is going to help someone else. I really believe that.

To see the video from the interview click on the link to this article below.



Bob Woodruff: Radio Interview about his Brain Injury

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   May 18, 2011 08:52

Bob Woodruff was 27 days into the job of a lifetime when he was nearly killed in Iraq. Now, instead of co-anchoring ABC's World News Tonight, he is working on his recovery ... avoiding war zones and advocating for soldiers with severe brain injuries.


Please check out the link below to listen to Bob's story from CBC Radio.



Connections: Spring 2011

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   May 17, 2011 14:51

Spring has Sprung with the newest edition of Connections. Check it out for information about the federal election, Brain Blitz, and Camp. Click on the Events tab for the registration form and program for Camp (June 3-5).

 spring2011sm.pdf (1.33 mb)



Connections: Winter 2011

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   March 31, 2011 16:57

Catch up on recent events with the latest edition fo our newsletter, and find out about what is coming up in 2011. Don't forget about our annual Hawaiian Odyssey fund raiser event - see inside our newsletter for more details. You can also read about the BIAC National Awards in this edition.


sbia-winter-2011.pdf (413.17 kb)



Connections: Fall 2010

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   March 31, 2011 16:46

We hope you enjoy our Fall Newsletter. Read about the Brain Injury Association of Canada National Conference in Regina - a resounding success! See pictures from our walkathon events in various cities around the province as well as our Volunteer Recognition Event. You can also find out about Lynda Monahan's New Book...


sbia-fall-2010.pdf (1.16 mb)