Human beings have an innate tendency to believe in what we can see. “Seeing is believing, ” is not just a phrase for many people, including jurors. In personal injury trials, lawyers try to feed this tendency through the use of photos, diagrams, re-creations, and videos.
When it comes to injuries, this is especially true. Showing gruesome photos, detailed X-rays, and other visible evidence of injury can be very persuasive to jurors.
Unfortunately, the opposite can be true, as well. Victims whose accidents involve injuries to the brain are often the most seriously injured, yet there is often a lack of visuals to show a jury, and an injured party may even have trouble convincing his own family or loved ones of the severity of injuries to the brain.
What is TBI?
Traumatic Brain Injury (or TBI), is a broad phrase which covers all different kinds of brain injury, of varying severity. The symptoms can vary from patient to patient, as can recovery. Some may recover very quickly. Some may not realize recovery until years after an accident. Still some may never recover completely to their pre-accident mental status.
Luckily, science is starting to catch up, creating new and innovative ways to help TBI victims recover.
New Treatments Show Promise
A revolutionary Australian study is now finding that playing video games actually may help victims recover. The study found that victims who played first person shooter games, experienced higher levels of concentration and did better on performance of tasks than those who did not engage in the study.
The researchers believe that action-based video games can help with decision making and problem solving. The theory is that by strategizing, the brain is improving on its own connections. Although any type of action game is thought to have the same effect, some believe that the more realistic the game, the better. The immersion of a first-person shooter-type game creates a lifelike condition, just as virtual reality would, which is also being used to treat brain injury.
Treatments based in pharmaceuticals are also emerging. One study has found that both TBI and Alzheimer’s are caused by so-called “folding proteins,” that is, normal protein inside cells which have gone awry. The study found that the brains of those who had sustained TBI had higher levels of the protein in their brain cells. Worse, as time went on, researchers found that the protein tended to spread, killing neutrons, further impairing cognitive function.
Researchers are now developing an antibody to combat these proteins. The antibody appears to have improved brain function in injured mice. Abnormal risk taking is a symptom of TBI. Mice given the protein demonstrated appropriate risk-aversion behavior, as opposed to the mice which were not.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, where patients breathe 100% oxygen in a closed chamber, is also showing promise. A group receiving the treatment showed much improved brain function through memory restoration and concentration, as opposed to a control group. The improvements were monitored and documented through brain imaging technology.
Rehabilitation is Key
In the end, it may just be good old fashioned rehabilitation that has the most benefit. Studies have shown a direct correlation between the intensity of rehabilitation, and the amount and extent of recovery. The anatomy of the brain is actually quite elastic, with a surprising ability to heal itself. This makes TBI very amenable to rehabilitation. Rats given more rehabilitation demonstrated increased networks of brain connections, which directly impact brain functionality.
While this may seem like the easiest route to recovery, unfortunately, it is often the one least likely to be received by the patient.
One problem is that insurance may not allow a patient to get the treatment needed. Restrictions on the number of doctor visits or the type and frequency of rehabilitation, can prevent a TBI victim from getting the treatment needed.
Another problem is either denial or lack of recognition. It may take time before a victim or his family even notices changes. Changes that are noticed are often mistaken as depression after the accident, or a mental side effect of other physical injuries. Because of the stigma that our country has when it comes to mental illness or injury, a victim who may be readily willing to admit he’s suffered a back injury or a leg injury, may be very unwilling to concede to a brain injury, thus delaying treatment.
Rehabilitation resources for brain injuries may also be less accessible for some victims than physical therapy. Whereas most regions have multiple facilities where muscles can be rehabilitated, cognitive rehabilitation can take not just physical equipment and trainers, but qualified, licensed treaters, who may be in limited supply in some areas of the country.
Benefits at Trial
For those injured in an accident, rehabilitation also has the added benefit of documenting your treatment, problems and progress. Although TBI can’t be “seen” by a jury, detailed medical records surely can. A long history of doctors’ notes, which may include a victim’s retelling of his problems and even his family’s relaying of the victim’s problems to the doctor, can be invaluable medical evidence of injury.
With today’s technology, doctors do have diagnostic tests and scans which can also provide visible evidence of brain injury for a jury to see. This kind of evidence can be invaluable, and give powerful corroboration to the victim’s family’s testimony of the victim’s injuries.
TBI victims should realize that they have suffered an injury every bit as severe and perhaps even more severe as a physical injury. They should also realize that if they are proactive, and seek out treatment, they often can see real improvement in brain function, with the emergency of knowledge and technologies in the treatment of these kinds of injuries.
Make sure your attorneys understand your injuries and how to convey their severity to a jury if your injury case goes to trial. Contact the personal injury attorneys of Brill & Rinaldi today for a free consultation about your case.