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Important Facts about Strokes and Increased Danger for Women

Most of us know how dangerous strokes are. While strokes can and often are lethal, they also can cause varying degrees of brain damage, paralysis, and severe cognitive deficits. Often the amount of time that elapses between the stroke and treatment determines the patient’s recovery or permanent damage.

Stroke is currently the fourth leading cause of death in the United States today, and surprisingly affects approximately 55,000 more women than men each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because women are at greater risk for strokes than men, it is crucial that women are able to recognize stroke symptoms and know that rapid medical response is essential. It’s also important for anyone with stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, high cholesterol and being overweight to make sure their spouse or families are also aware what to do in an emergency or if they suspect stroke.

According to the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, women should be aware of medications or medical conditions that may affect their stroke risk. First, women who are considering using birth control pills should get screened for high blood pressure, because oral contraceptives can increase the risk of blood clots and stroke. Pregnant women who have a history of high blood pressure should ask their doctor about their risk, as there may be increased risk of developing preeclampsia or stroke during pregnancy or post-partum. There are simple treatments that may reduce risk such as taking low-dose aspirin or calcium supplements while pregnant. Women over 75 should be screened for atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm. Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke and can be treated with medication or surgery. Finally, as with most health problems, quitting smoking, regular exercise and healthful eating are the best ways to reduce risk overall, for women and men.

While prevention and reducing risk factors for stroke is important, sometimes strokes are inevitable. A recent study found that 1 in 5 women can’t identify a single warning sign of stroke. The classic symptoms of a stroke are a drooping face, speech difficulty, or weakness or numbness in one of the arms. But, lesser-known and more ambiguous symptoms can include a sudden onset of dizziness, severe headache or vision loss. New guidelines suggest using the mnemonic FAST to remember the symptoms: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech trouble, and Time to call 911 immediately. According to Dr. Larry Goldstein, a neurologist and the director of the Duke Comprehensive Stroke Center, the most important thing to remember and watch for is “an abrupt change neurologically – any abrupt change. That could be a stroke and that needs to be taken seriously.”

So, if someone is exhibiting stroke symptoms, what should be done? You should call 9-1-1 immediately. Also try and pinpoint the time that symptoms began and relay this critical information to medical professionals. Any details you can give are invaluable in the immediate treatment of a stroke.

Improving the “Standard” Way of Thinking

The number of cars on the road has increased by leaps and bounds since the invention of roads. The highway engineers now focus on creating wider, faster roads to allow for the increased traffic. However, many engineers have lost sight of what is most important: Safety. As described by engineer Charles Marohn, ”First comes speed; then traffic volume, then safety; then cost.” See http://www.theatlanticcities.com/neighborhoods/2013/08/what-happens-when-town-puts-people-cars/6600/ for the full story.

Following these guidelines, engineers have begun creating “highways” through the middle of towns.  People living in these towns criticized the loss of vegetation, space, and safety as cars sped by their homes. Marohn’s response to these complaints is simple:  ”these standards have been shown to work across the world”. Realizing the emptiness of this response, Marohn evaluated the human consequences of this type of thinking. As he wrote in his blog, “Taking highway standards and applying them to urban and suburban streets, and even county roads, costs us thousands of lives every year”. Thankfully, Marohn decided to act on this epiphany and now goes across America explaining that things can be done differently –  ”that America’s towns and cities can build streets that are safe and operate at a human scale, the old-fashioned way, and that they can save money and bolster their economies in the process.”

Marohn’s epiphany is a great reminder that just because doing something “according to standards” is satisfactory, we should always look to improve those standards even if it means rethinking an established mentality.  Our standards for safety on the road should constantly evolve and improve with time.

How Pediatric Corporate Dentistry May Affect Your Child

One of the most celebrated provisions of the Affordable Care Act has been mandated coverage for pediatric dental benefits. With the expansion of Medicaid, there has also been a sizable population of newly insured children as well. Unfortunately not all dental providers will accept Medicaid and parents may have few options when choosing a pediatric dentist that accepts Medicaid benefits.  Many of the dental clinics that accept Medicaid are corporately owned, rather than privately owned. But just because the child is on Medicaid and the parents may not be able to afford to choose another provider, doesn’t mean that these children deserve sub-par care.

In the December 2013 issue of American Association for Justice’s Trial magazine, an article titled “The Evils of Corporate Dentistry”, brought to light many unfortunate circumstances, including children who were restrained while being treated at a corporate dental chain office.  These offices were found to be performing unnecessary and unsafe procedures on the children as well. According to an article from PBS’s website, another corporate dental group was investigated by Medicaid, who found “crowns that didn’t fit, decay left untreated under a crown and nerves left exposed”.  See the article here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/health-science-technology/dollars-and-dentists/complaints-about-kids-care-follow-kool-smiles/ 

Not only were the procedures unnecessary and unsafe, there were an exorbitant number of them being performed, all to increase the clinics’ revenue. Often times the dental groups offered bonuses to the dentists who billed above a certain amount. Some would even fire dentists who weren’t meeting the “production standards.”

So how can parents protect their child? First, they should know that no matter what the dental staff says, the parents are allowed to be with their child through every procedure. They have every right to be near their child in the treatment room, and there are no health guidelines that state otherwise. See http://www.aapd.org/media/Policies_Guidelines/G_Protective.pdf

Second, if they see or feel that a treatment is not in the best interest of their child, they should speak up. Both articles cited examples where parents said they trusted the dentists and the corporate dental chain to care for their children. But if a parent feels something isn’t right, they have the right to stop treatment and seek a second opinion.

Doing some research on the dentist or dental chain doesn’t hurt either. With so much information on the internet these days, it’s worth the extra investigation for the parent to have peace of mind when choosing a pediatric dentist.

Safe Pedestrian Practices

At one time or another, we’ve all been pedestrians – whether jogging down a busy street or walking through a parking lot or our neighborhood. Unfortunately, we hear about a pedestrian being hit by a vehicle on a regular basis. And it begs the question, how many of these accidents could have been avoided?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that in 2011 there were 69,000 pedestrians injured and 4,432 killed in traffic crashes. And that’s just here in the United States! Sadly, 2011 saw a 3% increase of deaths from the year before.

So what can be done to help decrease this number? Here are just a few safety tips from the NHTSA to keep in mind when walking:

• Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
• Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
• If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic.
• Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach you to make sure you are seen.
• Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective material at night – or use a flashlight or blinking head lamp.

There are many resources offered by the NHTSA and other organizations that help raise awareness to children, adults and seniors. Educate yourself and your loved ones to be a safe, smart pedestrian!

Progress in Treatment of Brain Injuries

Brain injuries can happen in many different circumstances. Concussions in sports are obviously a big problem that has become more prevalent in the media recently, but most people don’t realize how easy it is to suffer a brain injury from a car accident as well.

There may be hope for someone who has suffered from a traumatic brain injury, however.

Dr. James Lechleiter has found a class of compounds that helps protect neurons in the brain following a brain injury. The compounds trigger the cells in the brain that help take care of other cells, thus protecting the brain from further injury and preventing long-term damage.

The compounds can’t do anything for the cells that have already been damaged from the injury, but if they can help stop the continuation of damage directly after the injury occurred, it could potentially make a huge difference in the person’s recovery. According to the article, the testing is being done so that the compound is given within 30 minutes of the injury.

Sustaining a traumatic brain injury can cause short and long-term effects. To make matters worse, when someone has one concussion, they are that much more susceptible to it happening again.

Even though the discovery of this compound seems to be in the beginning stages, it is encouraging to know that there is promising research for treating brain injuries.

Oregon assisted living part of national investigation into corporate nursing care

One small senior care facility in McMinnville, Oregon has been the scene of repeated sexual abuse and assault, theft,  violence among residents, and severe patient neglect – all in the last five years.

The Oregon facility, now known as Emeritus Osprey, has had three separate corporate owners in the last three years. It is currently owned by one of the country’s largest assisted living companies: Emeritus.

Emeritus – and this McMinnville senior home –  are part of an ongoing ProPublica investigation into the corporations taking over elder care.

Corporate chains have taken over a big part of the assisted living business in the U.S.

It’s an alarming trend: these are private companies that have to generate revenue. They are under pressure to produce returns for investors, are already in debt from buying the facilities, and as a result, they cut corners in nursing staff training, maintenance, and other basics.

The McMinnville facility is an example of what can go wrong when big corporations have no real stake in the health and safety of assisted living residents.

This is particularly concerning in Oregon, which does not have a great record of prosecuting or even monitoring reports of sex abuse in nursing homes – see Oregon’s safety net for vulnerable elderly in long-term care riddled with holes.

So far, the investigation of Emeritus uncovered disturbing company policies that resulted in the neglect and even the death of elderly residents.

We will learn more about the failed corporate policies and government oversight as injury attorneys representing neglected nursing home residents go to trial against corporate nursing home chains.

 

Should teens be allowed to skip the driving test?

A new law in Oregon lets teenagers who have passed a driving class obtain a license through their driving instructor, instead of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Teenagers don’t need the DMV drive test?  

A decade ago, Oregon introduced a Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program.

Teen drivers must attend a state-certified driving school, pass a written test, and certify 100 hours of practice driving to receive a provisional license.

As a result, our teens are better drivers, and our roads and highways are safer for everyone. And because of the strict requirements, Oregon’s driver education programs are among the best and most comprehensive in the country.

Teens can only be exempt from the DMV driver skills test after meeting all of the GDL requirements, and completing the drive test in a vehicle with their driving instructor. We have seen how the program has reduced teen motor vehicle fatalities - our state-certified program instructors certainly seem qualified to administer the provisional license for teen drivers.

See Medford, Oregon’s KOBI 5 story on the new law.

 

 

The winner is …

Thank you to everyone who participated in D’Amore Law Group’s Holiday Toy Drive!

Teams collected hundreds of toys and gifts

Littler Mendelson‘s Portland office brought in the most toys, although the Davis Law Offices put up a good fight for a close second place.

 

Oregon Law Firm Toy Drive Collection 1024x768 The winner is ...

A big thank-you to Gresham Injury Law Center, Parks Law Offices, and Kehoe Law LLC, who all collected toys and donations for the Sleep Train’s annual Secret Santa Toy Drive for Foster Kids.

Finally, thank you to donors Target-Specialty of Portland, Jerry Lawson of Delta Counsel, and Sonya Fischer.

“That (is) an incredible amount of donations … Thank you again for yours and everyone’s efforts to support the Sleep Country Foster Kids Program.”

- Jarrett Tomalin, Sleep Country USA, Community Relations Coordinator

For more information, contact D’Amore Law Group.

Prevent Childhood Injury

Harmony Miller, MPH

Each year, an estimated 8.7 million children are treated in emergency rooms for unintentional injuries. 225,000 of them are hospitalized. About 2 dozen children die from their injuries.

That is 9,000 preventable child deaths, every year.

Unintentional injuries include those caused by suffocation, drowning, falls, motor vehicle collisions, and concussion or traumatic brain injury, as opposed to intentional injuries from child abuse or violence.

Accidents happen, but too many children are hurt in “accidents” that are preventable.

Preventing injury for America’s children is everyone’s responsibility. 

Unfortunately, many unintentional injuries result from intentional disregard for safe practices or prevention measures.

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, caregiver, teacher, or person without children, you can impact children’s safety. There are many things that we can do individually or together to help reduce childhood injury.

What you can do:

Practice safety in everything you do! Children look to adults for cues on acceptable behavior, and will mimic your safe behavior.

Drive carefully. Obey school bus stop signs, do not speed, and pay attention to pedestrians and crosswalks. Pledge to stop driving distracted or using your phone behind the wheel - behavior that results in more and more car accidents and injuries.

Spread the message!  If you hear about a safety hazard, tell others about it. Social media is a great tool for sharing safety information. Detergent pods are a good example of a new product that posed a serious risk to young children: many parents learned about it through Facebook or Twitter.

What your family can do:

Store poisonous substances where children cannot access them, even if you don’t often have kids at your home. Many pills and cleaning products look like candy or toys to small children.

Attend a free child safety seat check. Safety professionals will make sure the seat is correctly installed in your vehicle, and that you have the right seat size. In Oregon, children under 56 inches are required to be in a booster seat.

Keep your home’s windows closed, locked, and secured. Children can fall out of an opening as narrow as 4 inches wide, so keep your window locks and stops on.

Learn walking and bike riding safety. Teach children not to dart into the street, to use crosswalks and look both ways, and not to stand or play behind vehicles. Your child needs to wear a bike helmet every single time they ride their bike: a traumatic head injury can result from a simple fall in your driveway.

Support your local safety organizations. In Oregon, Safe Kids Oregon and the 8 coalitions statewide focus on reducing unintentional injury for children ages 0-19. It is easy to volunteer – go to Safekids.org/get-involved.

Trouble in Toyland: the 2013 report

Every day, about 500 children are treated in emergency rooms for toy-related injuries, anything from choking on a balloon or swallowing magnets to a scooter accident.

The annual report on dangerous toys, Trouble in Toyland 2013, identifies choking hazards, toxic chemicals, and excessively loud toys as the main causes of toy-related child injury.

KATU Consumer Report

There is no completely comprehensive list of potentially dangerous toys; but the Consumer Product Safety Commission tracks recalls and provides product safety guides at www.cpsc.gov/recalls.

While you’re out shopping this holiday season, please consider picking up a toy for a deserving foster child: Toy Drive for Foster Kids at D’Amore Law Group.