Friday, July 17, 2009
Linking the Evidence of Traumatic Brain Injury
Brain injuries are one of the most common topics involved in personal injury litigation. Motor vehicle collisions, falls, sports injuries and many other circumstances with associated impacts frequently damage the brain, the most important and vulnerable organ in the body. The severity of these injuries can range from mild to severe. Cases may or may not involve surgery or other medical interventions. But in almost all brain injury cases, there exist similar challenges for selecting or crafting demonstrative evidence.
In traumatic brain injury cases, you will most likely have significant radiological evidence. Hematomas, contusions, and areas of infarction, etc. typically show up nicely on CT or MRI studies. You may choose to simply utilize these radiological studies as your demonstrative evidence. While this is certainly the most affordable option, you should consider having a skilled medical illustrator either highlight these films, coloring the pertinent regions, or have the illustrator create full color illustrations interpreting the films in greater detail. These are generally some of the most affordable custom exhibits you could purchase, but they certainly make a big difference in clarifying the injuries for the layperson.
Your next most valuable bit of evidence may be the neurological evaluation. This report will detail the neurological deficits or behavioral changes experienced by the patient following the injury. This report in itself is a valuable tool, but it can be even more effective if you can create a direct link between the radiological evidence and the neurological evaluation. For example, if your neurological evaluation discusses significant changes in the patient's short-term memory and balance and we can clearly see a physical injury on the radiological studies that affects the temporal lobe, then we have an opportunity for the foundation of a great argument linking these factors. Since the temporal lobe is damaged and the temporal lobe is responsible for the symptoms experienced by the patient we must create a visual link for the jury so that there is no doubt that the two reports are related. It doesn't matter if you employ a simple chart mapping brain functions or a complex presentation concentrating on your specific area of interest. The goal is to establish a foundation of knowledge in the viewer so that the links between cause and effect can be appreciated.
For any neurological evaluation, you should take the extra time to inquire from the neurologist, not only what deficits can be seen, but also what regions of the brain influence the pertinent brain functions. After the region of functional deficit is determined, you can go back to the original diagnostic radiological studies to see if the visible injury is in the same region. The brain is complex, so you may not always have a direct match, but in those cases where the two reports coincide, you would be well served to take the time to educate your audience on the functional regions of the brain. This way a direct link can be drawn between the injury and the subsequent neurological symptoms.
Of course, there are many other types of demonstrative evidence that can be useful in these traumatic brain cases including dramatic illustrations of brain surgery or mechanism of injury animations. Perhaps that will be a topic for another day.