Hammering Home the Seriousness of Concussions

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Posted on 10th March 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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It’s always good for the American public to be made aware of the dangers of brain injury, and that a concussion is not “just” a concussion.” And that’s the message that’s being taught this month, which has been designated Brain Injury Awareness Month. http://www.healthnewsdigest.com/news/Family_Health_210/It_s_Not_Just_a_Concussion_-_It_s_a_Brain_Injury_printer.shtml

It’s never a bad idea, and can’t be stressed too often, that concussions do constitute brain injury. One physician pointed out that of the 1.4 million traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in the United States each year, 75 percent are usually concussions.

Public information about the danger of head injury and concussions doesn’t have to be dry and dull. The Mission Children’s Hospital has put together a clever nine-minute video for kids about why they need to wear helmets to protect against head injury.


A demonstration of how a brain is bounced around in the skull when a head sustained a blow is done with jelly in glass bowl, and makes its point quite vividly.

Kind Words about http://tbilaw.com from New Zealand


Posted on 8th July 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Below is an email we received with respect to our websites and web advocacy.

Attorney Gordon Johnson
©Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr. 2008

To Gordon Johnson and team, I thank you so much for your site. My name is Wendy and I am a 44 year old woman from New Zealand. I am a victim of Multiple TBI’s. As a child I sustained many head injuries (alot was me being knocked out), and have recieved many since. Most of which I have been knocked out many times, some for long periods, but mainly having the back of my head hitting the ground before any other part of my body. The worst injury I sustained was in 2001 when I had a home invasion and was beaten by 2 people wearing work boots being knoked for 8 or 9 hours. That was the second time I had been knocked out for that long. Other instances were being unconcious for up to 2 hours.

I found your site very easy to understand and informative. All of the symptoms you described were me wrapped up into one big ball. A brain damaged mess with what as a future?!

I do wish so much that your firm was over here in New Zealand as I have had no help from our ‘system’ as one may put it.
Thanks so much for putting this information on the net. People need to understand more about becoming brain damaged and how it affects the victim and how it changes them. Its helped me with my youngest daughter (13), as she never really understood why Mum wasnt like she used to be. I really hope that someday in someway that there will be some miracle cure for thoses affected by TBI or Multiple TBI’s..

Kindest Regards, Wendy. :o)

Footnotes to the Nightmare of War Time Brain Injury


Posted on 8th June 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Editor’s Note: This week, I am engaged in an intense writing project on my other brain injury blog: http://tbilaw.blogspot.com on the Nightmare of Wartime Brain Injury. There are some footnotes and funnies that don’t really work as a direct part of that project, so I am posting them here. Later in the week, I will comment on Henry VIII’s brain injury here as it is quite pertinent to that topic as well. http://tbilaw.blogspot.com/2008/06/loss-of-smell-was-missed-sign-of-brain.html

UW Helicopter Crash Kills Three Near LaCrosse, Wisconsin


Posted on 12th May 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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When we first created https://waiting.com in 1997, we were working with a trauma nurse from Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in organizing and fact checking the page. At the time, I had asked her what the biggest break through which had occurred over the years in saving lives for severe brain injury. I had expected her to say the CT Scan which allows doctors to see the killer of increased intracranial pressure before it kills, or some other imaging or pressure related device. She surprised me with her answer: Flight for Life helicopters.

It was her belief that it was the Flight for Life Helicopters that rushed severely brain injured persons to the regional trauma center where she worked, that enabled all of the rest of modern medical science to intervene before death, or before more brain damage occurred. As being old enough to have watched every episode of MASH, it was easy for me to grasp the importance of what she was saying.

Ironically, I didn’t appreciate until I started doing death and brain injury cases from the aviation liability end, just how much those doctors and nurses who staffed those Flight for Life helicopters, risked their life to save the brain injured. Saturday night, three more died in this valiant cause in a helicopter crash near LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Dead are Dr. Darren Bean, nurse Mark Coyne, both of University of Wisconsin Hospitals and the helicopter pilot, Steve Lipperer. For more details, click here.

Today, all of those in the brain injury community should have a day of remembrance for the brave medical personnel and pilots who risk their life to save so many from death and further disability. Each time you see a Flight for Life, say a salute or a prayer for those who serve on board. Perhaps we can all plant a tree or a flower in honor.

Brain Injury Association Urges Support for Wounded Warriors Act


Posted on 8th May 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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From the Brain Injury Association of Wisconsin:

Dear Friends:

Take Action!
Urge Your Senator to Cosponsor The Caring for Wounded Warriors Act of 2008
BIAA (Brain Injury Association of America) has endorsed The Caring for Wounded Warriors Act of 2008 (S. 2921), legislation introduced on Monday, April 28 by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton which would increase support for family caregivers of servicemembers with TBI. Several recommendations made by BIAA during the legislative drafting process were incorporated into the bill.

BIAA encourages you to urge your Senator to sign on as a cosponsor of this important legislation.

The bill would require two pilot programs to be implemented through the Department of Veterans Affairs, improving the resources available to those caring for returning service members with TBI.

The first pilot program, which would provide for training, certification, and compensation for family caregiver personal attendants for veterans and members of the Armed Forces with TBI, is very similar to a provision in last year’s Heroes At Home Act of 2007, which BIAA also strongly endorsed.

The second pilot program would leverage existing partnerships between Veterans Affairs facilities and the nation’s premier universities, training graduate students to provide respite care for families caring for wounded warriors suffering from TBI.
To urge your Senator to become a cosponsor of S. 2921, click on the ‘Take Action’ link in the upper right corner of this email.

The Brain Injury Association of Wisconsin and the Brain Injury Association of America support this legislation.

If you have trouble with the “Take Action” button at the top, please let BIAW know. To “Take Action” visit www.biausa.org. Click on Policy & Legislation, then Legislative Action Center, and then Take Action.

Sincerely yours,

Pat David
Brain Injury Association of WI
For those not in Wisconsin, your Senators and Congressmen can be found at http://www.senate.gov/ and http://www.house.gov/

Brain Injury Association to Hold Caregivers’ Conference


Posted on 7th May 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Caregivers’ Conference

The National Brain Injury Caregivers’ conference will be held in Dallas, TX on June 6-8, 2008 at the Westin Dallas Fort Worth Airport Hotel. The conference provides, caregivers of a person with a brain injury, support and guidance.

The conference will feature numerous medical professionals, over 25 experts and Lee Woodruff, special guest and best selling author. Lee Woodruff is the wife of Bob Woodruff, who suffered a brain injury in the Iraq War. His story is well chronicled, see for example: http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Story?id=2904214

The conference is presented by The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA). BIAA was founded in 1980, as an organization that supports individuals that are affected or individuals that have someone close that has been affected by a traumatic brain injury, by providing information and education.

Other speakers:
Joseph C. Richert
Chair, Brain Injury Association of America
President & CEO, Special Tree Rehabilitation System

Gregory J. O’Shanick, MD
President/Medical Director, Center for Neurorehabilitation and
National Medical Director, Brain Injury Association of America

Thomas Kay, PhD
Director Neuropsychology, Carmel and Associatates

Sarah Wade
Spouse of Injured Veteran

John Corrigan, PhD
Director, Ohio Valley Center for Brain Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation

Michael Howard, PhD
Clinical and Rehabilitation Psychologist, Lecturer
Biomed General Corporation

Janet Tyler, PhD
Director, Kansas TBI Project

Julie Peterson-Shea
Parent of child with brain injury

Lisa Silver
Transition Assistance Advisor, West Virginia National Guard

Peggy Keener
Parent of Person with Brain Injury

Faye Eichholzer
Spouse of Person with Brain Injury

Cheryl Amoruso
Sibling of Person with Brain Injury

Richard P. Bonfiglio, MD
Medical Director, HealthSouth Harmarville

Mike Davis, CBIS-CE
Neurological Case Management Associates

James Mikula, PhD
Neuropsychologist, Private Practice

Carolyn Rocchio
Caregiver of Person with brain injury

Laura Schiebelhut
Director of Public Policy, Brain Injury Association of America

Tim Feeney PhD
Executive Director, School and Community Support Services

Planning for the Transition from School Services to Adulthood
Linda Wilkerson, MSEd
President, Minds Matter LLC

Janet Tyler, PhD
Director, Kansas TBI Project

Visual Changes after Brain Injury
William Padula, OD
Director, Padula Institute of Vision Rehabilitation

Vocational Options After Brain Injury
Brandy Reid
Team Leader/Vocational Evaluator, Pate Rehab Dallas, TX

Kellie Manderfeld
Clinical Manager, Pate Rehab Dallas TX

Bill Ditto
Director, New Jersey Division of Disability Services

Tina Trudel, PhD
President/COO, Lakeview Healthcare Systems, Inc.

Susan H. Connors
President & CEO, Brain Injury Association of America

For further information:

TBI Support Group – Mint Julip


Posted on 2nd May 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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From one of our favorite former clients:

I had a good time at our TBI support group meeting today. It was a small group with only about 6 of us. Drake has changed their rules and does not allow us to serve or bring refreshments. We are only allowed to have them if we order them from Drake directly, which our TBI group can’t do since it does not have any funds.

So, I told our local TBI contact person that I would like to share with the group, the therapeutic value of growing mint. I brought several plastic baggies with mint plants along with the directions on How to Grow Mint in a Container Garden. I also shared with them the therapeutic value of making something with the mint….like Non-Alcoholic Mint Juleps. Pulling out all of the necessary items and the directions, I asked the group to help me figure out what we needed to do.

We worked on a variety of skills at the beginning of our meeting. Cognitive skills like gathering together necessary materials, figuring out what materials we should distribute to everyone first, reading and following directions, sequencing. Physical skills and coordination involved in scooping ice out of a container with a ladle and placing it into a cup, using tongs to grab the mint sprigs and place in their cups. One member new to the group said the mint sprig should be placed in the top of the straw…so we had the added challenge of using very fine motor skills! Social skills like enjoying each other’s company, “clinking” our plastic cups together and sharing our hopes for this year. Another member came in late, so we re-tested our memory as we worked together to make a Mint Julep for her.

Today’s group was a rewarding experience for me. I was able to do a skill I used to do prior to my TBI on a smaller scale. It was fun and I felt great! And now I have to take a nap and recover.

And the recipe:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • _ cup (or more) fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • Crushed ice
  • Prepared lemonade
  • Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

To Make Mint Syrup:
  • 1. Combine water, sugar and chopped mint in a pan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar has dissolved.
  • 2. Turn off burner and set pan aside for about an hour to cool down.
  • 3. Strain out mint leaves by placing strainer over the container you are using for your mint syrup. (If the holes in your strainer are large enough to allow some of the leaves to go through, place a paper towel or coffee filter inside your strainer.)
  • 4. Refrigerate mint syrup.

To Make Drink:
  • 1. Fill cup with ice. (Crushed ice works best)
  • 2. Fill cup about _ full with prepared lemonade.
  • 3. Pour a small amount of the mint syrup into your cup of lemonade. Taste and adjust according to your preference, adding more lemonade or more mint syrup if desired.
  • 4. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a straw. Sip slowly and enjoy. (Especially good on a hot summer’s day.)
  • 5. Optional: Make some sun tea and use in place of lemonade.
–Cindy Schneider

Thanks Cindy.

Herschel Walker, Brain Damage and Football


Posted on 16th April 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Too many hits? It is an old sports term, used to describe the running back who suddenly went from a Hall of Fame credentials, to ordinary, to out of football. It seems like half of the greatest running backs of all time went thru it.

If you are old enough to remember Earl Campbell, you would argue that no modern running back could carry his helmet. Yet, he went from absolutely amazing to positively mediocre, almost overnight. In 1983, he gained 1301 yards. In 1984, he had only 468. Even playing for his beloved coach Bum Phillips in New Orleans in 1985, he could only muster 643 yards, and then he was gone. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.jsp?player_id=40

The younger readers may have only heard of Earl because of his relationship to the scandal of the way the NFL treats its veterans and their medical needs. http://www.cyclonefanatic.com/forum/pro-sports/18098-earl-campell-texas-legend.html

Others have their explanations for his disability. Mine: It all starts in the brain. We know that boxers ultimately become demented because of too many hits, but think of the force that a running back absorbs on nearly every carry. Is it a surprise that the cumulative impact of that force on the microscopic connective wires within the brain – the axons, ultimately effects thought, the nervous system and the way in which the brain and nervous system control the body?

There are three incomparable running backs in my adult years: Earl Campbell, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith. Payton is the exception, I have no head injury theories with respect to him. But I remember the Cowboy Emmitt Smith in a way that only a Packer fan can. He just found a way to beat you. Not the fastest, not the biggest, not perhaps even the most elusive. He just had a knack. Big difference between Emmitt and Earl was that while Emmitt could run over people, he preferred to make them miss. Earl just ran over you for the sport of it. Well, Emmitt didn’t have that sudden career collapse that Earl did. He played successfully his last years in the game although the Cowboys did give up on him.

In my theories, the big change in Emmitt wasn’t because of the cumulative total of a lot of hits. His change seemed to occur all at once. On a Monday night game, against the Bears, Emmitt jumped over a pile and landed straight on his head. The way I remember it, it was a touchdown. It was the neck injury that got everyone excited. But I don’t believe Emmitt ever had quite the same knack after that play. His Cowboys never knocked the Packers out of the Playoffs again.

Why is Subtle Brain Injury© so disabling to a running back? A Subtle Brain Injury first effects the processing speed potentials of the brain because it disrupts white matter, the axons. While men in general are not as white matter dependent as women (a topic for another blog) athletes, especially those who must have instantaneous responses, are.

Assume that a running back needs 2 billion axons (to pick an entirely artificial number) to be able to react quickly enough to all of the different stimuli, applied memory and decision making of carrying the football. This pre-injury capacity gives the great runner the ability to know to cut left instead of right, situationally depending on whether it is All Pro Jimmy Linebacker who is trying to crush him versus Johnny Lineman. For more on diffuse axonal injury, click here.

Well, let’s also assume that our hypothetical running back started his career with 2.5 billion axons, but every hit robs him of a few and all of the blindsided ones, millions. Well when suddenly his reserves drop below 2 billion, he can’t react quickly enough to avoid the All Pros, but can still make the average defensive player miss. But now when Mr. All Pro hits him hundreds of millions of axons are lost, and it only takes a few more games until he can’t avoid even Mr. Average anymore. His strength is the same, his speed is the same, but his instincts are gone. Pretty soon the speed will go too because of the cumulative total of all those hits on his muscles and joints.

Well, this week’s news has another story of a legendary running back who went from All World, to worst trade in history in a short span, Herschel Walker. Walker went from 1514 yards in 1988 to 915 yards in 1989. While there are those who will say that this had to do with the way in which he was used after he left the Cowboys for Minnesota, true football fans will know that he just never had the same special quality after leaving the Cowboys. Like Earl Campbell, Walker used his amazing strength and power to punish defenders.

Now, Herschel Walker is newsworthy because of mental illness. See http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/20080415_NFL___Herschel_Walker_talks_of_mental_illness.html OK, that is possibly the explanation, but I am not convinced. Too many hits equals too much brain damage, which adds up to potential for serious neurobehavioral disorders.

If you think I am seeing brain injury under every rock, perhaps I am. But would someone please explain to me why the Poster Child for brain injury in sport – Mike Tyson, was never disqualified from boxing because of brain injury? If his complete inability to not bite Evander Holyfield’s ears is not a symptom of brain injury, then the world is flat. (For someone who shares my belief about Mike Tyson and brain injury, click here.)

I am not an expert in football or boxing although my first career was as a sport writer. I am not a medical doctor, so technically I am not an expert in brain injury either. But I do know both sports and brain injury and I know enough to recognize the patterns that point to brain damage. Is there enough force, is there evidence of injury and is there a change in the person? Emmitt I am suspicious about, especially the short term effect of the season he landed on his head. Of Earl, Herschel and Mike Tyson, I have no doubt.

TBI Act Reauthorization


Posted on 15th April 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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From the Brain Injury Association of Wisconsin

  • TBI Act Reauthorization Update: Last week the US Congress passed legislation to reauthorize the Traumatic Brain Injury Act! The bill appears ready to be sent on to President Bush for his signature. In addition to authorizing ongoing CDC, NIH and HRSA TBI programs, the bill also authorizes a new study by the CDC and NIH in collaboration with the Dept. of Defense and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to identify the incidence of brain injury among our veterans, especially veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Again, THANK YOU to all who took time to share their opinions with Congress regarding this legislation during the past year.
It takes a war or two, and badly thought out wars, to get some attention to brain injury and brain injury research. Congratulations to those advocates who got this bill passed. Certainly, the TBI act is important and helping our veterans with brain injury is important, too.

But how come the tail of the brain injury animal, war injuries, gets all of the research and attention? There are a million Subtle Brain Injuries© a year in the U.S. and perhaps, a few thousand in Iraq. What about all the civilians who have brain injuries? Isn’t it time we did some major research on those most likely to be disabled by brain injuries, those over 40 – especially women over 40, those with prior head injuries and those with co-morbid issues such as other neurologic or emotional disorders?

A Subtle Brain Injury is a complicated synergistic maze. Limiting our research to young jocks and war casualties is not going to enlighten us as to why some people have apparent full recoveries and others never get better. It is not an accident that there is consistently 10-15% of those with concussions who wind up with persistant post concussion syndrome. Let us start screaming louder so that the real pathology in those cases is understood, and treated.

Another Brain Injury Goodbye


Posted on 10th April 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Yesterday I dedicated this blog to the death of a great pioneer in the field of brain injury, Bryan Jennett, M.D. of the GCS scale. Today, I would like to give best wishes to a former advocacy colleague of mine, Pat David, of the Brain Injury Association of Wisconsin. I joined this organization in 1994 and became a member of its board for several years thereafter. Pat was the rock of that organization since that time and today announced her retirement. It comes with some good news, the passing in the House of Representatives of the TBI Act.

Here is the BIAW’s press release relative to Pat:

Dear Members & Donors:

I wanted to inform you of my pending retirement from the Brain Injury Association in June of 2008. I am so grateful for the past fifteen years and the opportunity to serve individuals with brain injury and their families in Wisconsin. I want to thank you, our members and donors, because it is your support that is the foundation upon which this organization was built and will grow. It has been a true privilege for which I am grateful.

Our Board of Directors is currently in the process of screening applicants for the Executive Director position and establishing a process for interviewing. We are also receiving input from our collaborative partners from the Dept. of Health and Family Services and the WI Brain Injury Advisory Council. Our plan is to have an individual in place before my departure to facilitate a smooth transition. I will keep you informed as that process further evolves.

I also need to share some breaking news….Yesterday, the US House of Representatives passed legislation to reauthorize the TBI Act (S. 793), by a vote of 392-1. The bill authorizes programs over the period of FY 2009 through FY 2012. Thanks to all who made their opinions known by contacting their Representative! The bill will next go to the US Senate once again, where approval is expected. Pending passage in the Senate, it would then be sent on to the President for his signature.

Thank you and do not hesitate to contact us at admin@biaw.org or 1-800-882-9282 with questions.

Sincerely yours,
Pat David
Director of Operations

Pat, your absence will be felt and I trust that your successor will do his or her best to carry on your mission.