A Head Injury Examined: Technology Makes Tracking Brain Trauma Possible

Head Injury

Recent years have brought a lot of attention to the sport of football because of the risk of concussions, severe traumatic brain injuries, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE and other serious problems.  By now, most of us understand that playing football can and many times does inflict long-term damage on the brain.  There is a big difference, however, between general knowledge and the specific harm that a football player endures during and after a collision or set of collisions.  The public knows more about this now in part because of a telling if somewhat chilling report the New York Times published recently.  The traumatic brain injury lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys will continue to bring as much awareness to the problem of concussions and head trauma as possible.  Below is a breakdown of the information that report provided.

About the Head Injury Article

The article analyzes what researchers learned after a college football player agreed to wear a special mouth guard inside his helmet.  Researchers at Stanford University designed it.  The mouth guard was equipped with motion sensors that tracked the movement of the player’s skull immediately after he suffered a blow to the head.  During the game, the player was on the receiving end of a violent hit to his head, and the mouthpiece recorded what turned out to be valuable data as a result.

Based on the recorded data, researchers were able to simulate the movement of the brain in response to the collision.  They found the following:

  • The brain’s tissue spread and shook in a wave-like fashion.
  • This stretching continued even in the moments after the initial impact.
  • The membrane between the two brain lobes, the falx cerebri, affected the stretching of the brain tissue.
  • The falx is attached to the top edge of the skull.  It seemed to concentrate the stretching deep inside the brain.
  • The greatest amount of stretching occurred in the tissue below the falx.

The researchers found that the greatest amount of stretching occurred near what is known as the corpus callosum.  The corpus callosum is in essence the ‘wiring’ that connects the two sides of the brain.  The fact that this was the area that endured the most intense stretching because of the blow to the head that was recorded is consistent with the brain damage found in people who have suffered severe blows to the head.

Jell-O vs. the Egg

For several years, brain researchers have believed that the brain basically moves around inside the skull like the yolk of an egg when it endures a traumatic impact.  Thanks to this mouthpiece and the resulting data, these researchers and others are realizing that instead of an egg yolk, the brain moves more like a bowl of Jell-O when it is shaken.  It is almost like the ripples that appear on a calm pond after you thrown a stone into the middle of it.  The difference, of course, is that all of this stretching and wriggling can and often does inflict serious damage on the brain tissue deep inside the brain.  This damage to what is known as the ‘white matter’ in the brain is often what is tied to long-term brain damage caused by a head injury or repeated blows to the head.

Extreme G-Force

The article goes on to detail the amount of force an offensive lineman in a college football game endures on his brain.  In the game that was studied, the offensive lineman subject endured dozens blows to the head.  These were not blows that were severe enough to cause a concussion, but blows that would be considered more ‘minor’ in nature.  However, the data revealed that the average G-force for these 62 head impacts was 25.8.  A G-force of 25.8 is roughly equivalent to a person crashing a car into a wall at 30 miles per hour.  Instead of that happening just once, though, it happened 62 times over the course of a few hours.  Those interested in reading this article in its entirety can find it here.

Causes of Concussions and Other Types of Head Injury

We have covered the problem regarding concussions in sports more than once recently, particularly football.  The bottom line is that no one knows exactly how many head injuries actually occur during a sporting event.  This is because so many blows to the head do not rise to the level of a concussion and therefore are not necessarily part of any data set.  What we do know is that if people are taking blows to the head hundreds or thousands of times, their risk of long-term problems rises exponentially over time.  This is particularly so if that person continues to engage in an activity that involves repeated head trauma.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, the following are among the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries in the United States:

  • Falls
  • Struck by/against an object
  • Traffic accidents
  • Assaults
  • Other/unknown

It seems clear that when a person suffers a blow to the head, whether it happens in a football game, a fall or in a car accident, that person’s brain is going to stretch and twist much like what the researchers mentioned above discovered.  What we do not yet know is how many of these blows an average person can take and what problems a person may or may not encounter in the future as a result of damage inflicted on the brain tissue.

How Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyers Can Help

What we do know now is that there really is no longer such a thing as a ‘minor’ head injury.  Every blow to the head can lead to difficult if not dire consequences later in life.  That’s why people who negligently or recklessly inflict this type of damage on someone else need to be held accountable for the harm that both was and that will be caused.  If this has happened to you or to someone you love, contact the traumatic brain injury lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation.

 

Posted in: Traumatic Brain Injuries
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