Personal Injury Updates

Information about Personal Injury in Washington State

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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Fuel Economy No Longer Means Safety Compromise

Categories: Uncategorized

By PI-Advisor. Posted on .

For decades, automakers improved vehicle fuel economy by reducing vehicle weight.   Since smaller generally meant reduced crash worthiness, one of the drawbacks of choosing fuel economy was increased risk of injury in a crash.  With the recent rise of hybrids, however, this is no longer an automatic tradeoff.

The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, has found that passengers in hybrids actually fare better than passengers in the same gas-only models.[1]  In fact, 27 percent fewer injuries were reported in hybrids than the same nonhybrid vehicle.  This held true for fatalities as well, with 25 percent fewer fatalities in hybrids.

The difference in injury odds is attributed in large part to the greater weight of hybrid models.  Hybrids are, on average, 10 percent heavier than their standard counterparts due to the weight of battery and other equipment required in the hybrid.  Weight and mass have long been known to be major factors in injury risk and this seems to hold true where all other factors are the same.

The HLDI compared the number of medical claims filed in collisions in 25 different cars where both standard and hybrid models were available.  For example, injury claim statistics for the Honda Civic standard were compared to injury claims filed for occupants of Honda Civic Hybrids.  (Toyota Prius and Honda Insight were not tested since neither has a conventional counterpart.)  All hybrids performed better than their standard counterparts regardless of model.

“Going green” on the road may no longer mean trading economy for safety.  While smaller cars, even hybrids, will never survive crashes as well as large cars, hybrid consumers can consider safety issues with new positive data.

[1]Status Report, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Vol. 46., No. 10, Nov. 17, 2011

Omega-3s: Potential Benefits for Treatment of Pain

Categories: Practical Tips You Can Use

By PI-Advisor. Posted on .

The benefits of omega-3s seem to be in the news everyday.  This fatty acid, often referred to as fish oil, has been widely studied in recent years and results suggest that it effective for the prevention and treatment of a wide variety of health conditions, including:

•    Better brain function
•    Reduced depression
•    Improvement of ADD/ADHD symptoms in children
•    Improved cardiovascular health and protection from heart disease

Many of these benefits have been widely publicized.  But there are also numerous studies which suggest omega-3s are effective for the treatment of pain.

Patients with chronic pain that is not resolved by treatment of the underlying cause are often faced with the prospect of long-term use of prescription medication as the only option for reducing pain and increasing daily function.  Prescription medication, such as narcotic pain killers, often have unpleasant side effects and are potentially addictive.  The choice to live with pain or bear the risks associated with the use of prescription pain killers often feels like a no-win situation for people with chronic pain.

Omega-3s have been shown to be a potentially effective third option.  Several studies have found patients reporting reduced pain after taking omega-3 supplements for several weeks.  These studies have focused on several different types of pain. One study, for example, found that patients with “neuropathic” pain, responded well.  Neuropathic pain is pain that is caused by damage to the nervous system, including nerve endings.  It is commonly experienced as electrical sensation, burning or “pins and needles” sensation.

Though there were only five patients studied, all had long-term neuropathic pain which interfered with each patient’s ability to perform activities.  After several months of taking 2400 to 7200 mg of omega-3, all 5 patients reported a significant decrease in pain and improved ability to function on a daily basis.  These result show promise for chronic pain patients faced with the unenviable choice between living with pain or relying on prescription medication.

No adverse effects were noted by any of the patients studied.  However, before taking high doses of any supplement, patients should consult their medical providers. Some supplements may interact negatively with other medications or supplements.  Omega-3s, for example, tend to thin the blood and can affect blood coagulation and may increase caloric intake, important for patients with conditions such as diabetes.

Viscosupplementation and Post-traumatic Osteoarthritis

Categories: Other Physical Injuries

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

One of the first steps in the treatment of any traumatic injury is pain management.  A relatively effective approach to the treatment osteoarthritis following joint injuries, especially knee joints, is viscosupplementation.  Pain relievers, like ibuprofen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are normally used along with physical therapy, topical analgesics, or even corticosteroid injections in such cases. Unfortunately, some patients react adversely to NSAIDs and these agents typically provide only temporary relief.

The procedure involves injecting a solution of hyaluronic acid into the joint where it acts as a lubricant to allow bones to move smoothly over each other and as a shock absorber for joint loads.

Immediate Effects:

Hyaluronic acid does not have an immediate pain-relieving effect.  Patients may notice a local reaction, such as pain, warmth, or mild swelling immediately following the injection. These symptoms generally do not last long and icing usually reduces them.  Patients should avoid
jogging, heavy lifting, excessive weightbearing or standing for long periods for the first 48 hours following the injection.

Longer Term Effects:

Over the course of the injections, patients notice decreased pain as hyaluronic acid seems to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. The injections may also stimulate the body to produce more of its own hyaluronic acid.  These effects may last several months.


Any swelling due to excess fluid (effusion) in the knee will be removed (aspirated) prior to injection of the hyaluronic acid. This is usually done at the same time, with only one needle injected into the joint, although some doctors may prefer to use two separate syringes. Depending on the product used, 3 to 5 injections will be administered over several weeks.

Viscosupplementation may be helpful for people who do not respond to basic treatments. It is most effective if the arthritis is in its early stages (mild to moderate). Some patients may feel pain at the injection site, and occasionally the injections result in increased swelling. The long term effects of viscosupplementation is not yet known, and research is in this area is ongoing.