Antidepressants Linked to Higher Cognitive Function Post TBI

According to a story recently published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, a new study has shown that antidepressants, often prescribed to victims of traumatic brain injuries to cope with the emotional fallout of their trauma, also help to renew brain cells.

Traumatic Brain Injury Victims Getting More Out of Their Scripts

new jersey philadelphia traumatic brain injury attorneys antidepressant linked cognitive function TBIThe study gave imipramine, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, to injured lab mice. Researcher, Dr. Jason Huang, associate professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center and chief of neurosurgery at Highland Hospital in New York, found that the mice treated with imipramine showed 70% more brain cell growth than the mice that were not treated with the drug. In addition to cell growth, the treated mice also displayed, through behavioral testing, improved memory skills.

Huang commented on the results of the study:

“What we propose in this study is that if you give [the drugs] right after the injury, in addition to the other treatments the patient is getting, we think additionally it could improve their cognitive function.”

The cell growth takes place in the section of the brain called the hippocampus – the area that controls memory. This explains the memory improvements seen in the mice treated with imipramine. While the drug stimulated much cell growth and improved cognitive functioning, it did nothing in the way of mobility or motor functions. So at this point, it is clear that antidepressants may revive a brain injury victim’s wits, but not necessarily their previous physicality.

Traumatic Brain Injury Attorneys in New Jersey and Philadelphia

Victims of traumatic brain injuries face life long complications – from cognitive set backs to physical limitations. TBI can change lives; not only of it’s victims, but also that victim’s family and friends. To treat and care for someone dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury can be difficult and costly. Few people are prepared to make the financial and physical commitment to providing the kind of care that is necessary to sustain a good quality of life. And unfortunately, TBI is often brought about by the negligence of someone else.

If your loved one recently suffered a traumatic brain injury and you believe another party is responsible, you probably have a list of questions regarding your legal rights. Contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation, or call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.

What’s More frivolous; Medical Malpractice Claims or the Doctor’s Defenses?

Insurance industry lobbyist continue to pay millions of dollars to portray trial attorneys as evildoers who are directly responsible for high medical insurance rates and driving doctors out of business. Malpractice attorneys respond that they are protecting the rights of those who were wrongly injured and deserve compensation.

Both sides cite a study conducted of 1452 malpractice cases conducted by David M. Studdert, an attorney and health-policy researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, as evidence for their side.

The actual numbers are as follows:

  • 37 cases had no injury, 6 were compensated
  • 515 cases involved injuries but no medical errors, 145 were compensated
  • 889 cases involved injuries and errors, 236 were not compensated

Ideally, we’d want all 889 deserving cases compensated and the 552 undeserving cases thrown out. Clearly, there’s room for improvement. That said, here’s the media’s take on this.

The sympathetic view, argued in this ScienceNews.org article, reports that

The majority of payments from insurance companies went to people who had been harmed by medical errors, not to people with baseless claims, the data show. That suggests that “moves to combat frivolous litigation will have a limited effect on total costs,” the authors say.

The study also found that about 85% of cases were settled out of court and of those that did go to trial, about 80% lost.

That said, the researchers found that 97% of the patients did suffer some type of harm. In about one-third of the cases, the damages weren’t clearly attributable to medical negligence or misdiagnosis and in such cases, most were not compensated.

Among the plaintiffs who received compensation were 6 uninjured people and 145 injured individuals whose injuries had not been convincingly linked to medical error. On the other hand, 236 plaintiffs who did suffer an injury from medical error received no compensation.

“This research shows that the problem with medical-malpractice litigation is not that too many undeserving people get paid, but rather that not enough deserving people get paid,” says Tom Baker, an attorney at the University of Connecticut in Hartford.

Nevertheless, 73 percent of plaintiffs whose claims had merit received compensation, according to the study. That figure suggests that the fact-finding involved in litigation, although expensive and time-consuming, “does a pretty good job of sorting out valid from invalid claims,” says Neil Vidmar, a social psychologist at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

A much less sympathetic view,comes unsurprisingly, from the American Medical Association. This group cites the same study as proof that

a substantial number of meritless claims continue to slip through the cracks, “clogging the courts” and forcing doctors to waste time defending them

Still, like doctors, most trial lawyers don’t want to spend time and effort on groundless cases. Many work off a contingency fee and only get paid if the claim is compensated. They spend hours carefully screening cases and only take cases that have true merit and deserving victims. To them, it doesn’t make sense to bring a frivolous lawsuit that could take upwards of 6 years and thousands of dollars out of their own pocket and not be compensated for their efforts.

If you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of medical malpractice, you may have a claim for damages. For more information, please go to the New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorneys page.

John R. Mininno, Esq. is a New Jersey and Pennsylvania trial lawyer representing clients in medical malpractice, defective products and other serious injury claims. He also writes about issues concerning patient safety. His offices are in Collingswood, NJ and Philadelphia, PA.