Concussions are a form of brain injury that can occur when an individual’s brain collides with his or her skull following an external blow to the head. This form of brain injury is not novel. It is only recently, however, that a large segment of the public has come to appreciate its seriousness. In North America, as star athletes, like Sidney Crosby and Justin Morneau, have struggled to recover from their battles with concussions, it has become clear that this type of injury is a critical health issue worthy of public attention.
The rise in public awareness regarding the dangers of concussions has spurred an increase in concussion research. One of the findings of this new wave of studies relates to the events that can cause a concussion. While it was previously believed that small blows to the head were inconsequential to an individual’s brain health, new research has demonstrated that these impacts can result in long-term brain damage. On a further note, researchers have developed new examination methods to diagnosis concussions. These new techniques include the use of advanced brain imaging, blood and spinal fluid tests, and genetic markers.
Although our understanding of concussions continues to evolve and many of these new testing methods remain experimental, together they represent bright spots for concussion victims and the lawyers that represent them. An increased appreciation for the events and symptoms associated with concussions enables family, healthcare personnel and lawyers to spot any red flags exhibited by a client and ensure that he or she receives appropriate medical attention. Moreover, with these improved diagnostic techniques, lawyers representing concussion victims will have the empirical evidence they require in the litigation process to secure full and fair compensation for their injured clients.
All in all, while concussions will remain a contentious area of litigation, research trends suggest that, as the literature on concussions grows, lawyers representing concussion victims will have tools to increase their ability to pursue their clients’ claims along with their healthcare professional’s ability to protect their clients’ long-term health.