Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) are common injuries we come across in the personal injury cases we handle. We often see TBIs suffered in motor vehicle accidents and work related accidents. There have been comprehensive and thorough medical studies on the effects, both short term and long term, of traumatic brain injuries. Likewise, the effects of head and brain injuries are being taken seriously from a legal standpoint. This legal focus has resulted in new methods of detection and extent of brain injuries. The new detection method is a valuable tool for accident victims and their attorneys in personal injury claims or lawsuits. Let’s take a closer look at the new diagnostic test for brain injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Brain injuries are often classified as mild or severe. A mild brain injury is one in which loss of consciousness with associated confusion and disorientation is shorter than 30 minutes. A severe brain injury is commonly diagnosed when the victim suffers loss of consciousness for more than 30 minutes with associated memory loss.
Far too often mild and in some cases severe brain injuries are overlooked by medical professionals. This is common in emergency rooms, especially ones in major cities, such as Boston or Worcester. This is because those emergency rooms are very busy. Doctors use MRIs and CAT scans to look for evidence of a traumatic brain injury. The problem is they often come back normal even when the individual exhibits common symptoms of a brain injury, such as a headache, difficulty thinking and memory problems. With those diagnostic tests failing to detect brain injuries or the degree of the injury, the true effect and possible long term effect is unknown or hard to prove. This can be very challenging for a plaintiff in a personal injury case when they are seeking compensation for the injury they suffered.
The New Diagnostic Tool For Brain Injuries
Today a new diagnostic tool is presenting itself in determining the extent of a brain injury. This new tool is known as Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI). DTI is a form of MRI technology that analyzes changes in the white matter of the brain. DTI is an MRI based neuroimaging technique which makes it possible to estimate the location, orientation and extent of the brains white matter tracts.
Though new, it is being touted as a breakthrough in diagnostics in that it can detect abnormalities in the brain that don’t manifest themselves in a standard MRI. DTI analyzes the movement of water molecules that accumulate in a particular area of an injured brain. CAT scans and MRI’s traditionally look at the larger picture of the brain, such as shifting of the brain or hemorrhaging. DTI, however, examines microscopic damage to the brain. DTI can show injury to the white matter of the brain which is not able to be seen on MRI, CAT Scan, PET Scan or SPECT. DTI can be very useful in cases of high velocity impact, where initial CT and MRI are normal. If the client or patient continues to have cognitive difficulties and cognitive difficulties are assessed on neuropsychological testing, then DTI can be used to show objective evidence of the continued cognitive decline.
The Legal Issues Presented With DTI
Given the novelty of the testing technique, the question is whether or not the results are admissible in court. Massachusetts courts look at whether the community of scientists involved generally accepts the theory or process being introduced. The court will look to whether the test has a practical usefulness, if there is general acceptance of the test in the relevant scientific community and is it reliable. With this type of medical and scientific evidence, the judge being the gatekeeper of what evidence is admissible or not, will make the ultimate determination of whether to admit DTI into evidence at trial for a jury to consider.
There are currently hundreds of peer reviewed studies on TBI using DTI. Because of the studies and being scientifically recognized as accurate and objective in identifying microscopic damage to the brain, DTI is predominantly admissible into evidence in a personal injury trial.
Therefore, if you have been in an accident, suffered a head injury and are experiencing symptoms of a brain injury, you may want to discuss DTI with your doctor. This new technique may be able to help establish the severity of your injury and assist in getting you the financial compensation you deserve for your injury.
If You Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in an Accident Speak With An Experienced Attorney
If you, or someone you know, suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident, you should seek the advice of an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney. Mahaney & Pappas, LLP has decades of experience handling injury claims from car accidents, truck accidents and motorcycle accidents and work related accidents.
Feel free to contact us with any questions or to find out what your legal rights are or to schedule a complimentary case evaluation. You may call us at (508) 879-3500 or contact us online. We are happy to help and answer your questions.