Youth Football and Concussion Risk

Football helmet

Controversy is swirling these days around whether kids under the age of 12 should play tackle football. The dangers from repeated blows to a still-developing brain appear to be significant, especially when you consider that a child’s brain experiences crucial developmental changes between the ages of 10 and 12. Add to that fact the study of brains from former NFL players, published in July, 2017, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study showed that 99 percent of the former players had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). You might recall that, two days after the study was released, John Urschel, an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, chose to retire at 26. Some, however, argue that the study of the brains of NFL players has little relationship to what might apply to young boys. Dr. Robert Stern, a professor at the Boston University School of Medicine in neurology, neurosurgery and anatomy, and neurobiology, has remarked that “results from a group of NFL players might not apply to boys who do not go on to play professional sports.” A local doctor and Hereford Recreation Council coach Dr. Rich George agrees with Dr. Stern. So, Who’s Right? Unfortunately, at this time[…..]

The Danger from America’s Favorite Sport

Football helmet

Football surpassed other sports as our favorite pastime a few years back; estimates vary as to the actual percentages of those who call it their preferred sport to watch. Many of us who agree don’t understand why everyone doesn’t like football—it’s an exciting and dramatic sport, but it also includes technical rules for those who enjoy a “thinking game” full of strategy. However, our love affair with football may be about to end. Since March, 2016, it’s been confirmed that concussions arising from playing football are a major cause of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), with the danger not limited to those who play professionally. What is CTE? A degenerative brain disease, CTE results from recurring blows to the head. Its symptoms include loss of memory, general confusion, mood disorders (especially depression), behavioral problems that often feature violence, and dementia. But symptoms may not appear for many years after the damaging blows have stopped. The diagnosis of CTE can be confirmed only by a posthumous examination of the brain. In a late July, 2017, report that appeared in The New York Times, a neuropathologist revealed her findings after studying the brains of 202 former football players. The Alarming Study Results Dr.[…..]

Alzheimer’s And Driving

Elderly Driver

Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 4 million Americans, including 70,000 Marylanders. It’s a progressive disease, one which in its early stages may not be evidenced in a decreased ability to safely navigate one’s own vehicle on the roads shared by others. Further complicating the picture is the typical pattern of “good days” and “bad days” for the person who has a dementia-related illness. But sooner or later (and that’s usually sooner for family members than for the patient), the impact of dementia on driving ability becomes apparent and a difficult decision must be faced. Alzheimer’s and other dementias can cause a number of problems for the driver, including: Memory loss An inability to perform tasks that once were routine Impaired judgment Disorientation related to time or place Impaired visual and spatial perception Slowed reaction time A shortened attention span Inability to recognize external cues such as stop signs, traffic lights, or the police. These characteristics may manifest in a driver’s getting lost while on the way to a familiar location; returning home later than expected; receiving citations for moving violations; having fender benders; or exhibiting road rage. For the families of individuals with dementia, confronting the disappointment and anger of[…..]

Amusement Park Accidents Aren’t Amusing

Roller Coaster

On Sunday, August 10, two dozen roller coaster fans got more than they bargained for at Six Flags America, 30 miles southwest of Baltimore. They had purchased tickets to ride the Joker’s Jinx, a roller coaster that propels riders from zero to 60 mph in a little more than three seconds. But a computerized system stopped the ride while some were almost at its highest point, nearly 80 feet in the air. The Prince George’s County Fire and EMS worked for four hours to rescue the riders, using a tower ladder and rescue bucket. Fortunately, no one was injured in this amusement park incident. Earlier this summer, on July 7, a tree branch fell on the tracks at Six Flags Magic Mountain north of Los Angeles, derailing the Ninja roller coaster, leaving it dangling and stranding occupants for hours. Four passengers were injured. Last summer, Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington shut down its Texas Giant roller coaster after a woman was thrown from her seat and plunged to her death. Do these incidents mean you’re taking an unreasonable risk if you take your family to an amusement park? No, but there is a risk. In 2012, 30,342 people visited[…..]

NCAA Brain Injury Settlement


Just a week before the first game of the 2013 NFL season, a settlement was announced in the classs-action lawsuit for thousands of former professional football players who have brain damage and dementia from concussions suffered on the field. Earlier this month, a federal judge in Philadelphia granted preliminary approval of that settlement. Now, just as the country gears up for a new season of college football, settlement has been announced in another brain-injury lawsuit, this one a class-action against the NCAA, seeking reforms in safety provisions for college athletes. On July 29, a federal judge in Illinois granted preliminary approval of the plan, which applies to all current and former college athletes, male and female, in all sports and in each division. These are some of the features of the proposed agreement: A $70 million medical monitoring fund will be paid for by the NCAA and its insurers. It will entitle all former college athletes to a neurological screening to examine brain functions and any signs of brain damage like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease. The NFL agreement covers treatment, but the NCAA fund covers only diagnostic expenses. The NCAA and its member schools will establish a[…..]

Airborne Thrills And Spills

Jetpack Water Safety

JetLev is one model of a relatively new type of recreational device, commonly known as a jet pack, that allows thrill-seekers to take flight. The jet packs, strapped over the shoulders and worn on the back, propel riders into the air with a stream of water. The equipment is tethered to a small, pilotless boat while the rider, using hand-held throttles, controls the speed of up to 25 miles per hour and height of up to 30 feet. Sound like fun? It could be. But, as the website for the JetLev Flyer warns, any activity involving speed, heights, water or power equipment is inherently risky. Some adventurers have gotten more “excitement” than they bargained for. In March, a flyer in Newport Beach, California, shot up and backward after accelerating too quickly, so an operator on the ground remotely cut the throttle, sending the man falling back toward the water. He hit the watercraft connected to the jet pack and required medical treatment. In 2012, a customer sustained a concussion after falling from the air during a jet pack ride; his lawsuit was settled for $100,000. Currently in Maryland, there are three businesses, all located in Ocean City, which offer jet[…..]

Move Over, Buster!

Cop car

Maryland lawmakers have expanded the scope of the state’s “move-over law” to include tow trucks. Effective October 1, 2014, motorists must move over when they see a tow truck stopped on the side of the road with its lights flashing. If that is not possible, due to traffic in the adjacent lane, the driver must slow to a “reasonable and prudent speed” to protect the tow truck operator and others on the side of the road from injury or death. Most states have move-over laws. Maryland’s was passed in 2010 but it was limited to the following categories and didn’t include tow trucks: Vehicles of federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies Vehicles of volunteer fire companies, rescue squads, fire departments, the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, and the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute State vehicles used in response to oil or hazardous materials spills State vehicles designated for emergency use by the Commissioner of Correction Ambulances Special vehicles funded or provided by federal, state, or local government and used for emergency or rescue purposes in Maryland. Moving over is not optional. Violating the law can cost you one point on your driver’s license and a $110.00 fine.[…..]

Brain Injury Awareness Month

Brain X-Ray

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, a period during which research and advocacy organizations reach out to educate families and communities about brain injuries and to empower those whose lives have been drastically changed by a traumatic brain injury (TBI). At the Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler, we know how traumatic a brain injury can be for both the injured person and for his or her family. In our work to help victims of TBI recover compensation from drunk drivers, careless nursing homes, and negligent employers, we’ve become aware of the complexity of issues surrounding brain injuries in Maryland. Here are a few things you need to know. According to the CDC, there are 5.3 million individuals in the U.S. who have a life-long disability as a result of a TBI. Each year, 2.4 million Americans sustain a brain injury, and 52,000 of them die. Every year, over 5,000 Marylanders experience a TBI that is serious enough to require hospitalization. There are more than 40,000 Maryland emergency room visits each year resulting from a TBI. The Maryland Brain Injury Advisory Board estimates that there are 8,830 veterans and/or service members in Maryland who are living with the effects of[…..]

Reducing Sports-Related Brain Injuries

You’ll recall that only a week before the first game of the NFL 2013 season, a class-action settlement was announced which proposed a payout of $765 million dollars in settlements and medical care for NFL players who suffered brain injuries during their football career. The proposed settlement was designed to last at least 65 years. But on January 14, 2014, a federal judge denied preliminary approval of the settlement because she suspected it would not be enough to cover 20,000 retired players. The plaintiffs in the class action include some 4,500 players who allege they developed dementia, depression or other concussion-related brain disorders from playing football and that the NFL concealed the knowledge it had about the long-term dangers of concussions and rushed them back into play too quickly. A number of players with Baltimore ties are among the litigants: former Ravens running backs Jamal Lewis and Bam Morris; defensive linemen Michael McCrary, Rob Burnett and Larry Webster; tight end Ben Coates; cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Gary Baxter; offensive linemen Wally Williams and Edwin Mulitalo; safety Will Demps; and outside linebacker Adalius Thomas; and former Colts safety Bruce Laird; defensive lineman Joe Ehrmann; quarterbacks Mike Pagel, Jack Trudeau and Mark[…..]

Adolescents and Young Adults are Most at Risk for Brain Injury

Mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI), known as concussions, have been linked to significant, long-term impairments. Anyone who has suffered head trauma will need immediate medical attention to determine the severity of the injuries and what types of treatment may be needed. If you have suffered a mild brain injury in a Baltimore car accident, it is important to understand that you may suffer long-term brain damage. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 75 percent of brain injury victims sustain MTBIs. Victims suffer symptoms including confusion, persistent headaches, fatigue, altered sleep patterns, issues with hearing or seeing, and mood changes. Recovery is possible especially if mild traumatic brain injuries are promptly diagnosed. Approximately 15 percent of patients, however, have persistent, long-term health problems. If you have sustained blunt-force trauma to the head, you may lose consciousness. While a loss of consciousness does not happen in all instances of MTBI, longer periods of unconsciousness is typically a sign of more severe trauma. It is common for MTBI victims, even those who retain consciousness, to have a dysfunction of memory around the time of the incident. Some victims suffer from seizures, lethargy, vomiting, or an[…..]