Lawyer Monthly - April 2022

Providing Compassionate Service for Brain Injury Clients APR 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM What everyday difficulties do victims of concussions or other mild brain injuries often encounter? This question would need a weekend seminar to offer a full response. It is a fog of symptoms that often slowly descends on those who have sustained injuries to their brains. It can be a fine mist of only a few symptoms that creeps into almost every aspect of their lives: mild headaches, mild nausea and vomiting, and maybe some dizziness. Or occasionally it can be so thick with symptoms that the strongest lighthouse cannot help a person find safe harbour. In addition to headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness, all of which can be relatively short-lived in mild concussions, individuals can also experience many more serious and sinister problems, ranging from memory impairments to damage to the pituitary gland. Those who have encountered a thicker fog of symptoms can expect to experience additional difficulties with short or long-term memory issues. The effects of this form of impairment cannot be overstated. Many clients are forced to resort to unimaginable reliance on their cell phones or postit notes just to be able to get through an average day without missing their appointments, to pay their bills, or to meet their loved ones. An inability to concentrate or focus is also often found in the haze. This can occur during everyday conversations, when that next word in an already formed sentence is just occasionally lost. Or it can be so severe that conversation is almost avoided entirely. blow or jolt to your head or body, which is exceptionally common during a motor vehicle collision. All anyone needs to do is watch any slow-motion video of a lowspeed collision to witness how we all tragically become bobbleheads. How can a brain injury go unnoticed in an initial diagnosis of a sufferer’s medical condition? In my experience, several common myths continue to persist, even among some primary medical care providers. First, it is not true that you must lose consciousness to sustain a concussion. Concussions are associated with and because of altered consciousness. The second pernicious myth that seems to cause a lack of proper diagnosis is being asked “Did you strike your head?” This question is asked often, presumably because the questioner believes striking your head is a necessary condition to suffer a concussion. Again, the literature is clear: you do not have to strike your head to sustain a concussion. The forces behind whiplash (very aptly named) are easily sufficient to produce concussions, and all too often do. Can you tell us a little about the proportion of your clients who have suffered mild or severe brain injuries? Over the course of my 23-year career, the vast majority (at least 70%) of our clients who have been in a motor vehicle collision sustained some degree of a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), commonly known as a concussion. Tragically, many of these people are unaware of that potentially life-long problem until we first sit down with them to learn of the constellation of symptoms they have experienced since the collision. Why is it that brain injuries are so prevalent among those who have suffered collisions? Motor vehicle collisions are the second leading cause of brain injuries, behind falls. This is not surprising considering the number of people driving and how easily collisions produce pernicious injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, brain injuries are typically caused by a violent MY LEGAL LIFE - STEVEN FLORENDINE Concussions are a common result of accidents involving injury to the head, yet are frequently misunderstood and even trivialised. Even an apparently mild concussion can have life-altering consequences. Davidson & Williams partner Steven Florendine tells us more about the subject, and about the importance of building trust and compassion with injured clients and their loved ones. 17

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