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What is a Spinal Cord Injury?

A spinal cord injury is any damage to the spinal column or nerves, resulting in permanent changes in strength, sensation, and other body functions below the injury site. Spinal cord injuries are classified into one of two categories: complete or incomplete.

A complete spinal cord injury causes all feeling and ability to control movement below the injury site to be lost. In an incomplete spinal cord injury, some motor and sensory function remains below the injury site. The ‘completeness’ of a spine injury depends on how severely the spinal cord is damaged.

Spinal cord injuries can occur at any level in the spine, and the severity and level of paralysis varies depending on the location of the injury site. In general, the higher up the spinal column the injury occurs, the more paralysis will be present.

Damage to the cervical nerves (C1 – C8) can cause quadriplegia, or tetraplegia, which is the loss of function in both arms and both legs. Spinal cord injuries to the thoracic nerves (T1 – T12) can result in paraplegia, or loss of function from the middle of the chest or below the waist, including the legs. When the lumbar nerves (L1 – L5) are damaged, paraplegia may occur as well.

Although spinal cord injuries can occur without causing paralysis, symptoms can have a devastating impact on a person’s quality of life. Beyond paralysis, spinal cord injuries are associated with other serious health complications, including:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Bladder control
  • Blood circulation issues
  • Persistent pain
  • Depression

In some cases, spinal cord injuries can even result in death. Damage to the high cervical nerves (C1 – C4) result in ventilation dependency or coma and are usually fatal.

Spinal Cord Injury Causes

According to Mayo Clinic, the most common causes of spinal cord injuries include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falls
  • Violence
  • Sports and recreational activities
  • Alcohol is a factor in approximately 25% of all spinal cord injuries
  • Disease (cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis)

In the United States, there are approximately 282,000 people living with a spinal cord injury, with 17,000 new spinal cord injury cases occurring each year.

Handling Spinal Cord Injury Cases with Care

Cases involving spinal cord injuries can be complex, and each patient’s injury is different. Our firm works with a host of spinal injury experts to determine the severity of the injury and what sort of surgeries, treatments, and rehabilitation will be required for the rest of the client’s life. We want to ensure that our clients receive the proper treatment respective to their level of injury and see the specialists that they need. In addition, we are dedicated to achieving the compensation they need to cover all past and future medical costs related to the spinal cord injury.

People who suffer spinal cord injuries oftentimes cannot return to work following their accident. Only one third of people return to work following a spine injury. Financial hardships are further exacerbated when a person cannot continue to earn a living. In a spinal cord injury case, in addition to medical costs, pain and suffering, and mental anguish, we seek to recover lost wages and future earning capacity.

Record of Success Representing Clients with Spinal Injuries

Our firm has the legal and financial resources that are necessary to pursue the compensation you deserve and protect your rights as a victim of a serious injury.

In 2014, Thomas J. Henry represented a one-year-old boy who suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury in a motor vehicle accident caused by a defective ignition switch in his great-grandmother’s vehicle. The accident claimed the lives of his great-grandmother, his 13-year-old aunt, and the driver of the other vehicle. The boy survived the crash but was left permanently paralyzed from the waist down, requiring intubation and a feeding tube to keep him alive.

Thomas J. Henry resolved the case and secured a result in the amount of $30.2 million for the child ($20,121,960.57 net to client). The one-year-old boy now has the necessary means to cover the future treatments, surgeries, and rehabilitation that he needs.

Advocating for Spinal Cord Injury Sufferers

If you or a loved one have suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury due to the negligence of an individual or business, you may be entitled to compensation. Spinal cord injuries can steal a person’s quality of life, cause lasting physical pain and mental anguish, and leave them with mounds of medical costs for surgeries and rehabilitation. Thomas J. Henry has experience representing clients with severe spinal cord and back injuries and a proven record of achieving the compensation they deserve.

Call our law offices and speak with a spinal cord injury attorney today for a free case review. We are dedicated to fighting for the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries.

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the brain is damaged by an external force, such as a blow to the head. The term traumatic brain injury is usually categorized into three categories: severe, moderate and mild. Traumatic brain injuries generally result in a loss of consciousness and an impairment of cognitive and physical abilities as well as behavioral functioning. Approximately 5.3 million people are living with TBI-related disabilities in the United States.

Traumatic Brain Injury Levels of Severity

The severity of a traumatic brain injury is oftentimes based on the length of time a person had a loss of consciousness, the Glasgow Coma Scale, duration of post-traumatic amnesia, or the results of brain imaging.

Mild TBI is characterized by a brief loss of consciousness, typically ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes. Post-traumatic amnesia for people suffering from a mild TBI lasts less than an hour following the injury, and brain imaging results come back normal. A mild TBI does not mean that the injury should be taken lightly and certainly does not indicate that the consequences and results of the injury are minor. Concussions are an example of a mild traumatic brain injury that can have lasting effects on a person.

Moderate TBI is characterized by a loss of consciousness or post-traumatic amnesia ranging from one hour to a whole day. Abnormal brain imaging is expected in a person suffering from a moderate TBI.

Severe TBI is characterized by a loss of consciousness that lasts for more than 24 hours or results in coma. Post-traumatic amnesia for people suffering from a severe TBI lasts more than 24 hours after the injury occurred. Brain imaging results will show abnormalities.

In addition, severe TBIs may result in a coma or vegetative state.

The Glasgow Coma Scale is another system used to determine the level of consciousness in a person who suffered a TBI and the severity of the injury. According to the Brain Injury Alliance of Utah, The system measures three different functions: eye opening, verbal response, and motor response. All three functions are given a score — smaller numbers correlate with a more severe injury and a worse prognosis — and added together. If the final score falls between 3 and 8, the person is said to be in a coma. Patients who score between an 8 and 15 are believed to have a good chance of recovery, but may require some rehabilitation.

Common Results from a Traumatic Brain Injury

People suffering from a mild TBI can experience:

  • Decreased attention and concentration
  • Memory problems
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Balance problems
  • Dizziness
  • Visual disturbance

People suffering from a moderate or severe TBI may experience:

  • Memory problems
  • Decreased interaction skills and executive function abilities
  • Decreased motivation
  • Chronic pain
  • Sleep disorders
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Blurred vision
  • Reduced sense of smell, taste, touch, and hearing

Unfortunately, in some cases, traumatic brain injuries can result in death. Traumatic brain injuries contributed to more than 50,000 deaths in the United States in 2010.

After a Traumatic Brain Injury

The road to recovery after suffering a TBI can be lengthy, difficult, and taxing — physically and financially. Oftentimes those suffering from a traumatic brain injury, especially a moderate or severe TBI, will require years of care and rehabilitation to improve cognitive and motor functions, their quality of life, and help return them to performing daily activities.

Following a TBI, the first line of care that a person sees will likely be in an intensive care unit. Severe TBIs may leave a person unable to breathe and eat on their own, which will require the use of a ventilator and feeding tube. When a person is intubated, they will likely require extensive speech and swallowing therapy in the future with the help of a speech/language pathologist.

People who sustain a severe traumatic brain injury will be put through rehabilitation in a variety of settings, from acute care, post-acute care, outpatient, or home-health services. A host of healthcare professionals will be required to recover from such a serious injury. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, physiatrists, and neuropsychologists provide the treatment and care that is necessary to help those suffering from TBI.

Have You Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury?

If you or a loved one sustained a traumatic brain injury, contact Thomas J. Henry. Our injury attorneys have experience handling cases involving clients with severe, moderate, and mild TBIs. We understand that TBIs can cause financial hardships in addition to the physical, mental, and emotional pain associated with the injury. In addition to the medical costs of treating TBIs, these injuries can prevent you from returning to work. You deserve to be compensated for your medical bills, future and past lost wages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish that you have been put through.

Call our experienced injury attorneys today for a free legal consultation. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve.

Who Can be Sued in a Burn Case in Texas?

Thousands of people suffer burn injuries every year in the United States. Beyond the physical and psychological pain, burn victims are oftentimes met with financial burdens caused by massive medical bills and the inability to return to work.

Burns can be caused by toxic chemicals, electrical shock, explosions, fire, hot surfaces and liquid, or radiation. When your burn is caused by negligence on the part of an individual, business, or corporation, who can be held accountable for your injuries?

Who is Liable for Your Burns?

When you suffer a burn injury, who you can sue depends upon the mechanism that caused the burn. The causes of burns are numerous — here are a few examples:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Defective products, including household items, vehicles, and industrial equipment
  • Dangerous premises with faulty electrical wiring or scalding water from water heaters
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals
  • Workplace accidents, including oil refinery explosions, oilfield incidents, and construction-related accidents

The at-fault driver in a car crash that led to your burn injury could be held responsible. The manufacturer of a defective machine or tool could be liable for your burn injuries. A property owner could be held liable if the premises they own or oversee are not reasonably safe. Your employer or a third-party on a work site could be responsible for a severe burn injury that occurred on the job if proper safety procedures were ignored.

An experienced injury attorney will investigate your accident, determine who is at fault and responsible for your burns, and help you recover damages such as past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

Burn Injury Levels of Severity

Burns are classified into three levels of severity:

  • First-degree — These burns affect the outer layer of the skin and generally heal within a week. Symptoms include minor pain and swelling and are typically treated with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, aloe vera, and antibiotic ointment. Sunburn is an example of a first-degree burn.
  • Second-degree — These burns cause damage beyond the top layer of the skin and may take several weeks to heal. Symptoms include extreme redness, pain, and fluid-filled blisters. In severe cases, skin grafting may be required over the area of the burn. Scars may also develop in these cases.
  • Third-degree — These burns penetrate every layer of skin and into the underlying tissue. Third-degree burns can be extremely painful or may cause little pain due to extensive nerve damage. Symptoms include black or white color, leathery texture, blistering, and scarring. Treatment from a medical professional is required in order for the burn to heal and prevent complications, such as infections, tetanus, hypothermia, and in severe cases death. People with third-degree burns oftentimes require several surgeries, years of therapy and rehabilitation, and psychological and mental care due to disfigurement and scarring.

“Burn victims are some of the most catastrophically injured people and deserve to be compensated.”

Thomas J. Henry handles burn cases because it is important that victims of these devastating injuries are rightfully compensated for their pain, disfigurement, and years of future surgeries and rehabilitation. For burn injury cases, we employ experts that can properly describe to a jury the kind of extensive care that will be required over a burn victim’s lifetime.

Contact an Experienced Burn Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one suffered a burn injury at work, in an automobile accident, due to a defective product, or in any other fashion, contact Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys immediately. When a severe injury such as a burn is caused by an individual or company’s negligence, you deserve to be compensated. Our burn lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends to evaluate your claim and provide you with a free case review.

Study: 99% of NFL Players’ Brains Examined Show Signs of CTE

A recent study has shown that of the brains that were donated by NFL players, ninety-nine percent of them have shown the diagnostic signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disorder.

Details on the NFL Brain Study

According to Science Magazine, a study of 202 brains that were donated to science by former NFL players showed that ninety-nine percent of them displayed symptoms of CTE. This disorder is associated with repetitive head trauma, which is extremely common in the sport of football.

All of the brains that were donated to the study were from players that had shown symptoms of neurological issues during their lives.

The researchers included data from former college and professional players that were not in the NFL. They found CTE in the brains of 48 out of 53 former college football players, and they found that eighty-six percent of former professional players displayed symptoms.

The study also revealed that all of the football players affected by CTE showed behavioral and cognitive symptoms associated with the disease, such as mood swings, depression, and problems with higher-order thinking.

What This Means For The Sport of Football

The results of this study left some scientists skeptical of the interpretation of the results, as they thought that the study didn’t represent a wide enough range of players. For example, it didn’t include football players that never showed any symptoms of brain disorders during their lives, but may have had multiple concussions during their careers.

The NFL funded part of this study, and the league stated that studies involving brains of former players are “important to further advancing the science and progress related to head trauma”.

Study: “Heading” a Soccer Ball Can Lead to Concussion Symptoms

Reuters reports on a recent study published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Neurology. It examined health problems that can arise in soccer players who utilize the technique of “heading.”

Details on the Study on “Heading” in Soccer

The study was led by Dr. Michael Lipton, a neuroscientist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The study found that soccer players had an increased risk of concussion-like symptoms if they used their head to hit the ball, a technique known as “heading.”

Researchers surveyed adult amateur soccer players around New York City. The survey participants were between the ages of 18 and 55 and 80% were men.

They asked the survey participants questions about how often they played soccer, how often they use their head to hit the ball, and if they took any unintentional hits to the head.

The survey also asked them if they had experienced any negative symptoms like pain, dizziness, and unconsciousness.

About 20% of participants reported moderate to severe concussion-like symptoms.

Compared to those reporting the least amount of accidental hits to the head, the participants who reported the most were six times more likely to experience negative symptoms.

Players who headed the ball frequently were more than three times as likely to experience symptoms compared to those who reported doing it infrequently.

Findings of this study contradict previous research suggesting concussion-like symptoms were caused by accidental collisions and not heading.

Reasons to Conduct Further Research on Heading Soccer Balls and Concussions

  • The participants were only surveyed for short-term symptoms. The study does not address potential long-term consequences.
  • Even though soccer is the most popular sport in the world, concussions in soccer are understudied compared to football.
  • Technological advances like helmet sensors will continue to make research easier.

Students Almost Die After Being Given Dangerous Amounts of Caffeine by University

Two Northumbria University students who volunteered in the study analyzing the effects of caffeine almost died after they were given the equivalent of 300 cups of coffee.

Details on the Caffeine Overdose Incident

BBC News reports that Northumbria University in England sport students Alex Rossetta and Luke Parkin were given the dangerous amount of caffeine. Rossetta and Parkin were supposed to be given 0.3g of caffeine, but they were given 30g of coffee due to a mistake on a mobile phone calculator.

According to Sunderland Echo, the students consumed the caffeine in the form of a solution with water and orange juice. The intake resulted in dizziness, blurred vision, shaking, and rapid heartbeat.

The students were admitted to intensive care where they were put on dialysis and lost a tremendous amount of weight.

Rossetta stated that there was some short term memory loss, but luckily both men have recovered.

Legal Repercussions Faced by University

Prosecutor Adam Farrer expressed to the court that deaths were reported after 18g of the stimulant was consumed, which is less than what the students consumed.

Farrer also expressed to the court that “If they had not been admitted to intensive care immediately for treatment they could have died from caffeine overdose.”

On behalf of Northumbria University the institution states “All those involved are deeply sorry and genuinely sorry for the breach in this case.”

According to SFGate, the institution was fined $505,400.

A factor that contributed to the overconsumption was the switch from caffeine tablets to powder.

According to the Huffington Post, the Food and Drug Administration has previously reported issues from powdered caffeine, with a teaspoon being equal to about 28 cups of coffee.

Three People Die from Foodborne Illness Following Thanksgiving Dinner Event

doctor and nurse at hospital discussing charts

According to multiple media outlets, three people died and five others sickened following a church-organized Thanksgiving dinner in Antioch, California.

Cause of Illness Unclear

The Sutter Delta Medical Center says eight patients were admitted with foodborne illness symptoms on Friday and Saturday. Three of the patients died, and one remains hospitalized, reports media sources.

All eight of the patients live in the same assisted living community and took part in a Thanksgiving dinner organized by Golden Hills Community Church. According to media sources, the event serves seniors, homeless populations, and others who would be alone on Thanksgiving.

The dinner consisted of Thanksgiving staples, including mashed potatoes, green beans, and stuffing, which were all prepared on site in a commercial-grade facility. However, the turkey, bread products, and pies were donated by other food facilities.

Media outlets report that other residents and staff members took part in the dinner and did not get ill. Officials are investigating whether additional people were sickened following the dinner but did not seek medical treatment.

The cause of the illness is unclear, but local health officers say the incident does not put the general public at risk.

Foodborne Illness Statistics

The following information is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • An estimated one in six Americans – or 48 million people – get sick from foodborne diseases each year.
  • 128,000 people require hospitalization annually due to foodborne illnesses.
  • An estimated 3,000 people die each year from foodborne diseases.
  • Salmonella causes the highest number of deaths annually of all domestically acquired foodborne illnesses – an estimated 378 fatalities each year.

Texas Football Player Suffers Brain Injury in Post-Game Accident

According to USA Today, a junior football player, Jonathan Lopez, from Burleson High School, in Texas, is recovering from an injury he incurred after a game Friday night.

Details Of The Head Injury

The injury that Lopez is recovering from is a serious head injury that caused him to experience fractures on his skull, and bleeding and swelling of the brain. Lopez has been released from the hospital, but his recovery is only beginning.

The traumatic brain injury occurred after his team scored a 45-3 victory. Lopez himself performed well during the game as his first two tackles of the football season were recorded.

After the game, Lopez accompanied some teammates to eat at a local Buffalo Wild Wings. As Lopez and his teammates were leaving the restaurant, he fell off of the tailgate of the pick-up truck, which is where he incurred the serious head injury.

To help Lopez’s family with their medical expenses, a GoFundMe page has been set up.

Potential Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury

According to Mayo Clinic, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can result in a number of serious complications:

  • Altered consciousness (i.e. coma, minimally conscious state)
  • Seizures
  • Infections
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Nerve Damage
  • Loss of vision
  • Memory loss
  • Reasoning and judgment problems
  • Hampered executive functions such as problem solving and organization
  • Social problems
  • Behavioral changes
  • Degenerative brain diseases (i.e. Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease)

Pennsylvania Firefighter Dies in Balcony Fall

balcony fall attorney

According to NBC Philadelphia, Eric Feltyberger, 43, a volunteer firefighter for the Pioneer Fire Co. in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, died Wednesday evening after falling from a third-floor balcony at a friend’s apartment.

Feltyberger Remembered as “One-of-a-Kind Guy”

Feltyberger, who became a volunteer firefighter at the age of 14, was preparing dinner at a friend’s apartment when he went outside to smoke and sat on a railing. He then lost his balance and fell, says Jenkintown police Chief Albert DeValentino.

According to Fire Chief Mike Brogan, Feltyberger didn’t volunteer for recognition, he did it because it needed to be done. “That’s the type of guy he was. Always giving, giving, giving,” says Brogan.

Causes of Catastrophic Injuries

While traffic accidents are the most common cause of catastrophic injuries, such injuries are also frequently associated with workplace accidents, falls, medical errors, and even sporting accidents. Other common causes include fires, explosions, and the use of defective products.

Trauma Injuries Increase During the Summer

The three-month term that follows spring is commonly referred as “Trauma Season.” This is most seen in the North of the country, where winter is rough, so children and adults are forced to hibernate for a while. Consequently, in the summer they enjoy the hot weather by doing outdoor activities.

Increase in Trauma Related Injuries During the Summer:

Beginning in April, bicycle-related injuries begin to increase. By mid-spring, where months begin to get hotter, swimming-related injuries start to rise. Additionally, each summer there are an increased number of lawn mower injuries.

According to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “among children, traumatic injuries can double during summer months,” In winter, every month roughly 100 children visit Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC due to traumatic injuries. In summer, this number doubles per month.

Adult traumas also rise by 25 to 30 percent in the summer, said the medical director of trauma at UPMC Presbyterian.

Adult injuries are different because they tend to be more grown-up harms. Bad sunburns, burns from gas grills, joint injuries from individuals who aren’t in top physical shape, but play some sport during the weekend, and finally, falls are common as well.

Top Trauma Injuries

  1. Bicycling-related injuries: Bicycles are one of the most dangerous toys for kids. These kinds of injuries are due to high-speed driving and negligence.
  2. Lawn mower accidents: These are less common for children, however, when they occur both for adults and children, the injuries are pretty severe. In 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recorded more than 83,000 instances of people were treated in U.S. ERs for lawn mower injuries.
  3. Swimming injuries: Drownings are more common in the summer time. Children are more likely to drown in swimming pools, whereas adults suffer from down injuries in natural bodies of water.
  4. ATV, dirt bike and motorcycle injuries: ATV injuries are often caused by rollovers, while with dirt bike injuries, high speeds and jumps are often the culprit, suggested Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
  5. Trampoline trauma: Concussions, sprains and occasional broken bones are the product of injuries caused by trampolines.
  6. Burns: Both adults and children suffer from these injuries. Campfire, outdoor grills, fireworks and sunburns, all cause hospitalization.
  7. Joint injuries: joint injuries among weekend warriors who aren’t in top physical shape are most common. These are mostly due to the increase of practicing sports like basketball and golf.
  8. Bites: It is more commonly to be bitten by a dog. “While adults are more likely to be bitten on arms or legs, children are more likely than adults to be bitten on the head, neck and face,” according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  9. Amusement rides: More than 4,000 injuries from amusement park rides occur per year. The majority are minor injuries like bruises or whiplash. Nonetheless, between two to three times per week, children are hospitalized due to these kinds of injuries.
  10. Gunshot wounds: 10% of all the trauma-related injuries are caused by shootings and stabbings. During the summer, unfortunately, these kinds of injuries increase, specifically among boys. Further, gunshot wounds are not limited to handguns and rifles – this also includes bb gun, airsoft gun, and paint ball gun injuries.
  11. Foot injuries: These are caused because both children and adults tend to be more barefoot and expose more skin during the summer months.
  12. Falls: Due to the increase of physical activity during the summer, these injuries increase. Over the last five years, falls have been the most common traumatic injury which end up hospitalized, for both adults and children.