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Information about Personal Injury in Washington State

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Yearly Archives: 2013

Sports Safety Clinic for Presents, Athletes, Coaches & Community Parented by SafeKids Eastside

Categories: Brain Injury

By PI-Advisor. Posted on .

Richard H. Adler is an invited speakers at the Safe Kids Eastside Sports Safety Clinic for Parents, Athletes, Coaches & Community for Parents & Athletes on Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at Woodniville High School.  The clinic is sponsored by Evergreen Health and the Brain Injury Association of Washington and presented by Safe Kids Eastside.  Safe Kids is a worldwide non-profit dedicated to preventing injuries in children from motor vehicle collision, falls, sports, burns, drownings and more.  Safe Kids Sports Safety Clinic for ParentsAmall

Mr. Adler will present on the Zackery Lystedt Law, the nation’s first return-to-play law, which requires medical clearance of youth athletes suspected of sustaining a concussion before sending them back in the game, practice or training (2009).  Additional presenters include, The Lystedt Family (Brain Injury Awareness, Prevention & Safety Advocates; Zack is the inspiration and namesake for the ground-breaking health and safety legislation known as the “Lystedt Law,” that was signed by Governor Gregoire in May 2009); Stanley A. Herring, MD (Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation specialist; Co-Medical Director of the Seattle Sports Concussion Program; Clinical Professor University of Washington and a team physician for the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners; Member of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee; “Lystedt Law” contributor and advocate); Darin Harris (Former UW Husky Football player who suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury his senior Current Board Member – Brain Injury Association of Washington); and Anthony Green (Director, Public Policy for Safe Kids Worldwide; worked in senior roles in the Congress, at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, as a “founding father” of the National Constitution Center and an award-winning reporter for Philadelphia magazine).

This event is open to the public but space is limited.  Pre-registration is not required but is appreciated.  To registration send an email to SafeKidsEastside@evergreenhealth.com.

Department of Health raises ceiling on copy fees for patient records

Categories: Personal Injury Resources

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

Medical recordUnder the Uniform Health Care Information Act (HCIA), health care providers are allowed to charge certain fees to produce copies of a patient’s medical records.  The Act states copy charges may be adjusted every 2 years for inflation based on the consumer price index.  Recently, the Washington State Secretary of Health updated the maximum charges providers are permitted to charge for records copies.

Effective July 1, 2013, reasonable fees for duplicating health care records are as follows:

  • A maximum $24.00 flat fee for clerical searching and handling, up from $23.00 over the last two years;
  • A maximum $1.09 per page for the first 30 pages of records, up from $1.04; and
  • A maximum .82¢ per page after the 30th page, up from $.79.

Rates are based on the Seattle-Tacoma consumer price index and are reviewed every two years. These rates will remain in effect until July 2015.

Mobile Hand-Held Devices Can Increase Musculoskeletal Symptoms

Categories: Personal Injury Resources, Practical Tips You Can Use, Spine Injury

By Steven J. Angles. Posted on .

Did you know that the average human head weighs 10 pounds in a “neutral position” – where the ears are aligned over the shoulders?  Did you know that for every inch you tilt your head forward, the pressure on your spine doubles? In other words, if you are reading this blog with your head leaning down, or slouched over in a chair, you are asking your neck to support 20-30 pounds of weight.[1]   Now ask yourself – how many hours per day do you spend hunched over your smart phone, tablet, or some sort of mobile electronic device?  Your musculoskeletal system, particularly your neck and arms, may be paying the price for the convenience of having instant and portable access to all that information.

Mobile DeviceIn 2011, Canadian researchers Berolo, Wells and Amick conducted the first epidemiological study to investigate the frequency of upper body musculoskeletal pain of in mobile device users. [2] This was the first study of this fast-growing health concern to provide empirical evidence of relationships between mobile device use and symptoms of the upper extremity and neck. Participants in the study reported their daily use of mobile devices and self-reported pain symptoms through an internet based questionnaire. 104 students and 32 staff or faculty members participated in the study (80 females, 60 males). 94% were right hand dominant, and 26% use both thumbs to type (vs. one thumb typing)).  The study revealed:

  • 98% of the study participants used a hand-held mobile device for emailing, scheduling, browsing the internet, making phone calls, watching videos, taking pictures, or gaming.
  • Participants used such devices for a mean time of 4.65 hrs/day
  • 84% reported at least some pain in at least one body part
  • Pain of any severity was reported as follows:
    • 68% in the neck
    • 62% in the upper back
    • 32% in the right elbow and lower arm
    • 52% in the right shoulder
    • 46% in the left shoulder
    • 27% in the left elbow and lower arm
  • Statistically significant associations were observed between total time spent using a mobile device and pain in the left shoulder, the right shoulder, and the neck

The study also indicated that musculoskeletal symptoms can also develop in the extremities with activities such as typing, as pain in the hands was a common complaint, particularly at the base of the thumbs.[3]  This would be consistent with case reports suggesting a link between device use and both tenosynovitis and osteoarthritis [4] at the base of the thumb (carpometacarpal joint), as well laboratory studies showing that smaller keyboards (as compared to desktop or laptop computers) may increase “static strain” on the hand and arm muscles.

While mobile electronic devices have become an indispensable part of life for many people, the Berolo Study underscores the importance of taking simple steps to limit the amount of time we place our bodies in an abnormal position that can increase stress on the muscles, cause fatigue, muscle spasms and even stress headaches.  These include improving posture, raising electronic devices towards the head (not vice-versa), taking breaks to break up static body positions, and using speech-to-text functions rather than typing.

Individuals already suffering from musculoskeletal injury due to trauma may be at a higher risk for complications arising from the over-use of personal electronics.  Postural strain, overuse, or prolonged immobilization in these patients can result in additional changes in posture or body mechanics that may bring about spinal alignment problems and muscle shortening.  As such, patients recovering from traumatic injury to neck, back, arms, or hands should be particularly aware of their habits while texting or surfing the web on their electronic tablets to prevent additional injury or a prolonged recovery.

 

 



[1] http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/20/health/mobile-society-neck-pain

[2] http://www.ergoweb.com/news/detail.cfm?id=2722

[3] http://www.ergoweb.com/news/detail.cfm?id=2722 Id.

[4] http://www.jaoa.org/content/110/5/294.full

Pedestrians at Higher Risk During Left Turns

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Steven J. Angles. Posted on .

A 2013 study released by Oregon State University reveals that about 4 – 9% of the time, drivers making a “permitted” left turn do not look to see whether there are any pedestrians in their path of travel. [1] (A “permitted” left turn is defined as one in which a left turn is allowed by a circular green light, a flashing circular yellow light, a flashing circular red light, or a flashing yellow arrow, as opposed to a “protected” left turn in which in which a solid green arrow gives a driver the complete right of way in a left-turn lane).

ped crossingThis estimate is much higher than previously thought.  The engineers conducting the research found that approximately one time in 10 or 20, a driver attempting a left turn did not even look to see whether there was a pedestrian ahead before initiating the turn.  As part of the study, the researchers used a full-scale driving simulator that monitored eye movements. The heavier the traffic, the less attention research subjects paid to the possible presence of pedestrians.  In essence, the study found that many drivers were simply faced with too many distractions while attempting a left turn on a traffic signal other than a basic left green turn arrow. These distractions ranged from focusing on narrow windows in which to complete a turn relative to oncoming traffic, to focusing on the traffic signal rather than the intended path of the vehicle.

Interestingly, the researchers concluded that permitted left turns are now sufficiently dangerous to pedestrians that states should consider prohibiting them. In fact, in Washington County, Oregon, traffic managers recently implemented this step after a high numbers of pedestrian-vehicle collisions.

Also of interest is the preliminary evidence to suggest that the currently-mandated type of signal in many states, which uses four heads instead of three, can still be sufficiently dangerous as to cause an immediate hazard to pedestrians in a crosswalk. However, the cost to implement a four-head signal is about $800 more than retrofitting the three-head version, which is widely used around the nation, prompting the question of whether many millions of dollars might be saved nationally by using the simpler signal.

As the amount of foot traffic increases in cities around Washington State, it is crucial for both drivers and pedestrians to take the utmost care in these situations to avoid the potential for serious personal injuries.



[1] Oregon State University (2013, April 2). Pedestrians at serious risk when drivers are ‘permitted’ to turn left. ScienceDaily. Retrieved

CURVEBALLS AND KIDS: How Can Parents Protect Their Young Pitching Athletes From Serious Arm Injuries?

Categories: Other Physical Injuries

By Melissa D. Carter. Posted on .

With the first day of summer on our heels, most little league championships have concluded and young baseball players are done for the season.  Unless you, like I, have a TOK (totally obsessed kid) that plays post little league pitcherseason Allstars, followed by summer ball league, sprinkled with summer baseball parties and topped with pitching sessions with dad in the yard.  We are All-Baseball, All-The-Time.

At one particular little league championship this spring, an 11-year old pitching dynamite on the mound was destroying our team.  He was throwing curve ball after curve ball, striking out one batter after the next.  He was fierce.  He was feared.  The championship was on the line, and he was a Hero.  That is, until his 11-year old arm gave out on him and he collapsed on the mound, grabbing his ravaged elbow, screaming in pain.

According to the Division of Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston, the “Little League elbow” is on the up-tick, and they are seeing 12-14 year olds in droves with injuries caused by throwing curve balls.

Sports medicine physicians seem to agree that pitchers under the age of 13 are simply not physically capable of absorbing the torque and strain on the elbow caused by throwing a curveball.  The ulnar collateral ligaments that connect the lower and upper part of the arm are too underdeveloped to survive the strain.   The American Sports Medicine Institute says, “don’t throw curve balls until you can shave.”[1] ASMI Executive Director Lanier Johnson added, “The kid who throws all those curve balls in the Little League World Series is a hero. But does he ever get a change to earn a college scholarship or sign a major league contract? Do you want to take a chance on your son or daughter to get a college scholarship? Do you want to be a hero at 13 or 14 but never much else after that?”[2]

Dr. Lyle Micheli, director of the Division of Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston, believes the curveball is best not thrown until a pitcher is at least 14. He also said kids shouldn’t attempt to throw a slider, a pitch that puts even more stress on the elbow, until 16.[3]

Little League International and Little League Baseballs have tried to minimize the risk to young pitchers by mandating a pitching count limit and innings’ pitched limit per game.  They have not, to date, mandated an age requirement or restriction on curve balls.  “It doesn’t mean we’re advocating throwing breaking balls,’’ Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive of Little League International.  “We don’t promote it. We just think it’s very difficult to regulate it out of the game, and there is no data to show that throwing breaking balls is at the root of arm injuries.’’[4]

Timothy Kremchek, an Ohio orthopedic surgeon and the Cincinnati Reds team physician, disagrees.  “They have an obligation to protect these 12-year-old kids and instead, they’re saying, ‘There’s no scientific evidence curveballs cause damage, so go ahead, kids, just keep throwing them.’’’[5]

While there is no Little League rule banning the destructive pitch, parents should remain vigilant to protect their children from serious injury, and heed the warnings by the medical profession concerning this growing trend among young pitchers.  Without Little League oversight, parental knowledge is instrumental in protecting young athletes. These injuries are totally preventable, and awareness is key.

Dr. Kremcheck offered the following tips to parents and their eager, baseball loving children, on appropriate measures to minimize serious injury to pitchers:

  1. No curveballs until aged 14-16;
  2. No more than 300 pitches per week, be it games or practices; and
  3. Good coaching: ensure your child has a knowledgeable, experienced pitching coach teaching proper techniques.

If you are someone you know has suffered a traumatic, preventable, injury while participating in a sporting event, we have trained, knowledgeable and experienced attorneys in the area of sports injury law that are able to consult with you.

 



[1] http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3505347

[2] http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/25/health/little-league-curveballs

[3]http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/minors/articles/2012/04/01/curveballs_in_little_league_not_a_good_idea/

[4]http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/minors/articles/2012/04/01/curveballs_in_little_league_not_a_good_idea/

[5] Id.

 

Lights, Camera, Action – Use of Dash Cameras On the Rise

Categories: Auto Accidents, Practical Tips You Can Use

By Steven J. Angles. Posted on .

Did you happen to see footage of the meteorite that entered Earth’s atmosphere several months ago? Did you ever wonder why most of the video footage of the event originated from ordinary citizens in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk? The answer has to do with one of the most important after-market components that Russian motorists add to their vehicles before they ever consider radar detectors or satellite radios – dashboard cameras. Unfortunately, drivers in Russia have a significant likelihood of being involved in a severe collision. In fact, in a 2007 study, Russian motorists averaged 25.2 traffic fatalities per 100,000 people. By comparison, motorists in the United States had 13.9 road deaths per 100,000 people in the same year, despite having six times more cars.[1]  Many Russian drivers opt to purchase cameras for their vehicles in order to maintain their rights and memorialize the facts.[2] The same principle applies in the U.S.

Most people involved in a motor vehicle collision quickly realize that a picture can truly be worth a thousand words. If that is the case, what is the value of a motion picture? The answer, often times, is priceless.  Regardless of whether the questions are coming from an insurance company, another driver, law enforcement, or an attorney, there is simply no substitute for being able to show first-hand what happened during a car crash.  This is largely why the idea of having a video camera mounted on the dashboard of a vehicle, or on top of the helmet of a motorcycle rider, is becoming increasingly common.  Video footage is the eyewitness whose memory does not decay with time, and whose bias or credibility cannot be questioned.

Personal injury attorneys can hire a number of experts to recreate what happened during a collision using calculations of time, speed, and distance. However, most of these experts would still agree that having first hand video footage of the event would be a tremendous advantage in reaching their conclusions.dash cam

While this technology became available to consumers about 10 years ago, there has been a spike in the number of cameras sold to motorists in recent years. The reason? Price. These days, it is easy to obtain a dash mounted video camera for your car for under $100. For an additional $100 you can obtain upgraded models that can record high definition video in total darkness, record what is happening behind and inside of a vehicle, pinpoint location by GPS, and can save recorded information automatically in the event of a collision.

These cameras can also help keep loved ones safe when they are borrowing your vehicle.  Are you worried about the driving habits of your teenager? Do you want to know whether your teen is texting while driving? Dash cam footage provides irrefutable answers and can help keep your children driving safely.

Ultimately, a video camera can help an injured motorist explain what happened before, during, and after a crash despite the toll that a physical or psychological trauma can have on that person’s recollection.



[2] http://www.rferl.org/content/dash-cams-russia-fighting-corruption-and-scams-car-crashes/24780355.html

Bicycle helmet laws linked to fewer child deaths

Categories: Bicycle Injury, Brain Injury

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

HelmetAccording to a new study, state laws requiring children and teenagers to wear helmets are effective in reducing the number of deaths related to incidents involving bicycles and cars, according to a new study.   Researchers analyzing the number of bicycle deaths between 1999 and 2010 found that states with bicycle helmet laws reported about 20 percent fewer bike-related fatalities involving riders under 16 years old.

Approximately 900 people die as a result of bicycle-related crashes every year in the United States.   Three quarters of these fatalities are caused by head injuries.  Previous research found that wearing a helmet reduces a person’s risk of a head or brain injury by up to 88 percent.

Researchers analyzing data tracking the number of traffic-related deaths nationwide compared the number of children and teenagers killed while riding bicycles in the 16 states with helmet laws enacted in 1999 with states without such laws.

In 1999, only 16 states had helmet laws in place.  The overall rate of bicycle-related child deaths in the U.S. was 4 per million.  Between January 1999 and December 2010, there were 1,612 bicycle-related deaths among children younger than 16 years old.  During that time, states with helmet laws reported 2 bicycle-related deaths per 1 million children under age 16 years old, compared to 2.5 deaths per 1 million children in states without helmet laws.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children wear a helmet approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission every time they ride a bicycle.

Motorcycle Deaths on the Rise

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

According to a recent report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), an estimated 5,000 motorcyclists lost their lives on U.S. roads in 2012.  This figure is near an all—time high and represents a 9 percent increase from 2011.  Motorcyclists are one of the few roadway user groups where no progress has been seen over the past decade, the GHSA report noted.Motorcycle

The projected number of motorcyclist deaths for 2012 is based on state-by-state data for the first nine months of the year. Similar projections in previous years mirrored the final numbers.

Data comparison for the first nine months of 2011 and 2012 revealed the number of motorcyclist deaths increased in 34 states last year, decreased in 16 states, and stayed the same in the District of Columbia. Increases were noted in every region of the country and were quite high in many states. For example, motorcyclist deaths rose 32 percent in Oregon and 29 percent in Indiana.

The report also found that the number of states with compulsory helmet laws had dropped from 26 in 1997 to just 19 states in 2012.

The report outlined a number of ways to reduce motorcyclist deaths. These include: increasing helmet use; reducing speeding and impaired riding; providing rider training to all who need or want it; ensuring proper licensing of riders; and encouraging all drivers to share the road with motorcyclists.

 

SOURCE: Governors Highway Safety Association, news release, April 24, 2013

Recent Survey Results on Distracted Driving

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Melissa D. Carter. Posted on .

The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released survey results on April 5, 2013 showing that Americans continue to use electronic devices while driving, despite laws and evidence that such distractions cause lack of focus while driving and can lead to collisions, injuries and even death.

The survey revealed that, at any given daylight moment, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones, or some form of electronic devices, while driving.  This number of users has held steady since 2010, despite awareness and anti-texting while driving laws.  The NHTSA also found that more than 3,300 people were killed in 2011, and 387,000 were injured in collisions involving a distracted driver.[1]

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood states, “There is no way to text and drive safely.  Powering down your cell phone when you’re behind the wheel can save lives – maybe even your own.”

Click here to view a short documentary created by EndDD concerning teen distracted driving:

To prevent distracted driving, the Department of Transportation recommends drivers:

  • Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive;
  • Be a good role model for young drivers and set a good example;
  • Talk with your teens about responsible driving;
  • Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving;
  • Always wear your seat belt; the best defense against other unsafe drivers.

 


[1] http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/NHTSA+Survey+Finds+660,000+Drivers+Using+Cell+Phones+or+Manipulating+Electronic+Devices+While+Driving+At+Any+Given+Daylight+Moment

 

Does An Upright MRI Make Sense For You?

Categories: Spine Injury

By Steven J. Angles. Posted on .

If you suffer an injury, your treating doctors may refer you for an MRI (“Magnetic Resonance Imaging”) to see whether there is any damage to your organs, spinal discs, or soft tissues that may not be visible on X-ray films.  So what can you expect? Before the scan can begin, you will be asked to remove all metal, jewelry, watches, hair clips, or similar items prior to the scan. Your technician will ask about any prior surgeries or metal implants you have had undergone previously.  When the testing begins, you will be asked to lay flat on a patient table which will slide some or all of your body into the tube-like cylinder of the MRI scanner.  Once the scan begins, super cooled electric coils will generate a powerful magnetic field which, combined with radio waves, will show the location and appearance of your soft tissue and fluids.

For its many benefits, having an MRI scan can be uncomfortable to one degree or another.  You might feel claustrophobia while lying inside the machine.  Your body type may not allow you to lie comfortably and still inside the scanner for the duration of the scan.  You might find the knocking sound inside the scanner tube unpleasant (even if you have headphones with music playing).  More importantly, in the case of spinal injuries, the “traditional” MRI may not accurately show imaging in the position in which you actually feel pain.   For these reasons, you may benefit from an open upright MRI. Upright MRI

First developed in 1996[1], the open upright MRI (a.k.a. “Stand-Up” MRI) can effectively solve many of the concerns that patients experience in these procedures.  In an open upright MRI, a patient walks between two large magnetic imaging devices and either stands, or they can sit in a chair that raises or lowers their body into the proper position.  The front and top of the machine are open.   The scan typically takes less time than a traditional MRI, and patients might even be able to watch T.V. during the procedure.   In many instances, the scans are less expensive than traditional MRIs.   But the greatest benefit it offers is the opportunity to recreate the body positions that patients might feel pain, revealing causes of injury that might be undetected on recumbent MRI scanners.   For example, if you typically experience neck or back pain while sitting or standing, your scan will take place while your spine has the same weight and gravity it would normally have when you most feel your symptoms.  As a result, the scans may show where your spinal discs are compressed or injured in a way that a horizontal MRI might not show as well.

Of course, you will need to consult with your medical provider before deciding on an upright MRI, as there can be drawbacks specific to your situation.  Typically, traditional recumbent MRIs have a higher “field strength” or power to their magnets, resulting in clearer MRI results that show greater detail.  You definitely want your doctor to have the best quality scans possible in order to provide the best evidence of your injuries.  Some insurance plans do not cover upright MRIs.  Upright MRI machines are not yet as common as traditional scanners, so it may harder for you to locate one that fits your needs.   Lastly, your particular symptoms might be best represented while lying down for a scan, particularly if your pain is greatest in that position (i.e. while sleeping).



[1] http://www.fonar.com/history.htm