Tag: injury”

26 Jan

The Concussion Discussion: Taking the Longer View

Hull & Hull LLP Capacity, Estate & Trust, General Interest, Health / Medical, In the News Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

Worse than watching Sidney Crosby’s head hit  on New Year’s Day, was watching Crosby’s attempt to right himself after the blow and skate off the ice. Dr. Wennberg, a University of Toronto concussion expert and NHLPA consultant, summed it thusly: “To see it was painfully obvious. The telling sign was when he tried to get up. Mr. Crosby’s right foot slipped behind him as he got back on his feet, and his mouth guard slipped out of his mouth – subtle signs that that the hit from Washington Capitals winger David Steckel jarred Mr. Crosby’s brain.” Diagnosis: Concussion.

The word concussion is derived from the latin concutere (“to shake violently”). By definition, a concussion is a traumatic closed-head brain injury caused by a blow to the head and resulting in a temporary loss of normal brain function. The old school of thought was that concussions were considered ‘minor head injuries’ because the effects were seemingly temporary, and indeed, most individuals who suffer from a mild concussion will have no long-term effects. There is increasing evidence, however, that some people who sustain a concussion, and an even larger proportion of those who sustain multiple concussions, will endure long-term consequences. In 2009, the NFL finally conceded that “It’s quite obvious from the medical research that’s been done that concussions can lead to long-term problems.” In fact, a study commissioned by the NFL found that former NFL players were being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease at a rate 19 times greater than the background rate for their non-NFL peers (see last year’s blog by Rick Bickhram on dementia and the NFL).   Long-term neurological effects, which can be permanent, may include memory loss, poor concentration, impaired reasoning, seizures, and depression.  Still not convinced?  The February 2011 issue of National Geographic  includes a graphic photograph of brain deterioration due to repeated hits to the head.

For additional information on concussions, and to access resources on concussion prevention, please visit www.thinkfirst.ca , a national injury prevention charity founded by brain surgeon Dr. Charles H. Tator.

Jennifer Hartman, guest blogger


13 Jan


Hull & Hull LLP Estate & Trust, Health / Medical, In the News Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

Within hours of the unconscionable shooting of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the discussion turned to Giffords’ prognosis. The phrase ‘cautiously optimistic’ smattered the evening newscasts. In Giffords’ favour is a wealth of research indicating that undamaged areas of the brain can compensate for damage to brain areas that control language, movement, and even memory and attention.

The brain’s plasticity, also known as ‘neuroplasticity’, refers to the brain’s malleability, or ability to adapt in response to new experiences. The concept of neuroplasticity is relatively new; just a few decades ago, scientists believed that the brain was hardwired, and thus ‘fixed’. The times they are a-changing, and indeed, on February 26, 2010, ‘plasticity’ was knighted Word of The Day by the New York Times.

Neuroplasticity has applications in a number of facets of neurological inquiry.  For example, plasticity is relevant to stroke recovery and rehabilitation. Plasticity is also the cornerstone of studies that suggest that healthy aging (stimulating social interactions, regular exercise, and a healthy diet) can one day defend against Alzheimer’s Disease. The success of a cochlear implant is dependent on some degree of neural plasticity. When a child suffering from intractable seizures undergoes a hemispherectomy to remove half or a portion of half of the damaged side of their brain that is contributing to the seizure activity, plasticity allows the remaining brain to take over some of the functions of the lost hemisphere.

If your interest is piqued, here are some on-point links:

•  January 3, 2011 Newsweek article: Can You Build a Better Brain?
•  Oliver Sacks’ latest book: The Mind’s Eye (released October 26, 2010)
•  September 30, 2010 episode of CBC’s The Current: an interview with neuroplasticity pioneer Norman Doidge, M.D.
•  November 28, 2008 episode of CBC’s The Nature of Things: The Brain That Changes Itself
•  January 19, 2007 issue of TIME magazine: How the Brain Rewires Itself

Jennifer Hartman, guest blogger

25 Oct

Hypoxic-Anoxic Brain Injury

Hull & Hull LLP Estate & Trust, General Interest, Health / Medical Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

The brain requires a constant flow of oxygen to function normally. In fact, the brain consumes about a fifth of the body’s total oxygen supply. When this flow is disrupted, brain cells begin to die, and one of two conditions results: i) hypoxic brain injury (due to a partial lack of oxygen supply to the brain); or ii) anoxic brain injury (due to a complete lack of oxygen supply to the brain). The two conditions are sufficiently related that the medical community uses the acronym HAI, which stands for hypoxic-anoxic brain injury.

Causes of HAI

The disease processes and injuries that can cause HAI vary widely, and include:
• stroke
• cardiac arrhythmia
• cardiac arrest
• suicide attempt
• near-drowning
• near-suffocation
• electrocution
• severe bronchial asthma attack
• carbon monoxide poisoning; and
• barbiturate poisoning.

Symptoms of HAI

Assuming one recovers from the initial loss of consciousness or coma, he or she may exhibit any of a number of symptoms. These cognitive symptoms may include:
• short-term memory loss
• a decline in executive functions (judgement, reasoning, information synthesis, attention, concentration)
• confusion
• depression
• hallucinations
• delusions
• personality changes; and
• language difficulties.


Chances for recovery from HAI are dependent upon length of unconsciousness, extent and location of brain damage, age of the victim, and initial recovery in the first month post-injury.

Jennifer Hartman, guest blogger


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