Archive for August, 2014

West Palm Beach Brain Injuries & High Risk of Dementia

The lasting health effects of brain injury have become clear to researchers and medical professionals. A recent study published on Health Day confirms that there is likely a link between traumatic brain injury and dementia. The study was “able to point to an association,” although it could not conclusively prove cause-and-effect. 

Because of the seriousness of brain injuries, it is important for victims to understand their legal rights. Top causes of brain injuries include motor vehicle collisions, sports accidents, slip and falls and violence. A personal injury lawyer may be able to help brain injury victims pursue a claim for compensation to provide for lasting care and rehabilitative needs.

Brain injury and dementia risks

The new study involved an evaluation of 190,000 veterans who were 68-years-old on average. The veterans were free of dementia. A total of 1,229 of the veterans had been diagnosed with a brain injury.

Researchers followed these veterans over a period of nine years. Among the veterans who had been diagnosed with a brain injury, 16 percent developed dementia. Among the veterans who had not been diagnosed with a brain injury, only 10 percent developed dementia.

The vets who had a brain injury generally developed dementia at an average age of 78.5 years. Among those who did not have a brain injury and who developed dementia, the problem did not set in until an average age of 81.

Researchers said: “Our results suggest that [brain injury] may increase the risk of developing dementia in older veterans, with an age of onset about two years earlier.”

Other risk factors including high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and alcohol abuse, were taken into consideration when the study was performed. Even accounting for these variables, it seems clear that the brain injury played a role both in increasing the risk and in reducing the age at which dementia sets in.

Research also showed that the risk of dementia was higher in veterans who had both a brain injury and another health condition such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or cerebrovascular disease.

The study did not delve into the specific mechanisms that may have caused the increased risk of dementia. However, one potential theory is that each of the hits that the brain sustains reduces the brain’s ability to recover from the damage.

Another possible explanation for a link between a brain injury and dementia is that injury in the brain can cause a build-up of amyloid or tau. Both of these proteins are implicated in dementia and in Alzheimer’s disease.

This study is not the first to suggest that there is a potentially increased risk of dementia for people who sustain head trauma. The Alzheimer’s Association also warns that the effects of a traumatic brain injury can be lasting and permanent and may, among other things, make a person more susceptible to dementia as he ages.

Preventing head injuries is a top priority because of the lingering and indirect health consequences. Unfortunately, if an injury has occurred, victims have no option but to try to recover and ensure they have received full an fair compensation for the damage sustained.

Accident lawyers in West Palm Beach can help injury victims. Call Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. today at 800-608-2965 to schedule a free consultation. 

Archive for August, 2014

School Bus Safety Tips to Prevent West Palm Beach Accidents

With children heading back to school, many kids will be commuting via school bus. However, the Bradenton Herald reports that a recent school bus accident in Florida has raised concerns over child safety. 

The reality is that approximately one percent of children killed in transportation accidents when going to school lose their lives in collisions involving school buses, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Unfortunately, the NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts also reveal that there were 1,222 fatal school-transportation related accidents in the last decade. Between 2003 and 2012, the fatal accidents resulted in 174 kids losing their lives while commuting to school.

Of the kids who were killed, 55 were riding on school buses at the time of the incident and another 119 were killed as a result of pedestrian collisions involving a school transportation vehicle. A personal injury lawyer should represent families when a child is  injured or killed while in the care of a school district.

Avoiding school transportation accidents

Accidents involving transportation to and from school can be avoided if kids, drivers and parents follow best safety practices. The NHTSA has published a guide called Kids, the School Bus & You, which is targeted towards protecting the 23 million students nationwide who commute to school via bus.

Drivers must do their part to keep these kids safe. The NHTSA recommends:

  • Drivers lookout for kids who may be walking or bicycling by before they pull out of driveways or parking spots, especially as the school year starts and more kids are on the roads during high traffic times.
  • Drivers must pay attention to school zone areas and must be watchful of kids who are walking to school within these zones.
  • Drivers should slow down in areas where there are no sidewalks and should be watchful of kids who may be walking or biking to school or who may be waiting near bus stops.
  • Drivers need to follow the rules when it comes to stopping for school buses. Yellow flashing lights are an indicator to other motorists that the bus is preparing to stop in order to load or unload children. A stop arm and red flashing lights indicate that the bus has stopped and that kids are in the process of getting onto or off of the bus. Motorists are required to slow and prepare to stop at yellow flashing lights and must stop for red flashing lights.

Children should:

  • Arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the time the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • Stand at least six feet (three giant steps) away from the curb and line up to board the bus away from the street.
  • Wait until the bus has come to a complete stop and until the driver says that it is OK before trying to climb aboard the bus.
  • Use the handrails to avoid falling down both when getting on and getting off of the bus.
  • Ensure that you are at least 10 feet ahead of the bus before crossing the road and make sure that the bus driver can see you before crossing.
  • Avoid walking behind the bus at any time.
  • Walk at least three giant steps away from the side of a bus.
  • Never try to pick up items that you have dropped near the bus until you have alerted the driver you plan to do so, as the driver may not see you if you are bent over.

Parents should make sure that kids know these best practices for school bus safety in order to reduce the risk that an accident will occur.

Accident lawyers in West Palm Beach can help injury victims. Call Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. today at 800-608-2965 to schedule a free consultation.