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Pittsburgh Personal Injury Law Blog

Study finds traumatic brain injuries increase risk of dementia

Traumatic brain injury patients in Pennsylvania and around the world may have an increased risk of developing dementia, according to a new study. The study was conducted by researchers from Umeå University in Sweden.

Researchers identified 3 million Swedish patients who received a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury or dementia between the years of 1964 and 2012. They then compared the medical records of TBI patients with people who had never suffered a TBI. They found that over time TBI patients were 25 percent more likely to suffer from dementia. The risk of a patient developing dementia was strongest in the first year after a TBI, but the disorder struck some people more than 30 years after their injury. Severe or multiple TBIs also increased a patient's risk of developing dementia.

Is stress from work compensable through workers' compensation?

Are you stressed at work? If you said yes, you're not alone. According to a 2017 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), 61 percent of Americans say work causes a majority of their stress.

From a need to work long hours to a constant pressure from management to perform better and better, it's no wonder so many workers are stressed out.

New blood test to detect brain injuries FDA approved

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are becoming more common as diagnosis and treatment methods improve. This injury is caused by a bump or a blow to the head that disrupts normal brain function, but not all bumps to the head cause TBI.

Cases range from mild to severe and can result in death. In the most severe cases, TBI can cause permanent disability or loss of mental functions and memories. In more mild cases, the effects subside after a few days. Concussions, for example, are a mild form of TBI.

Marijuana holiday may account for increase in car crash deaths

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that an annual marijuana holiday on April 20 may be behind a yearly increase in car crash deaths. Though Pennsylvania has not legalized recreational marijuana use, drivers should know that the self-proclaimed holiday is celebrated across the nation and fatal car crash rates tend to increase around 4/20 in most, though not all, states.

The study analyzed fatal car crash data between the years 1992, when the 4/20 holiday began to be widely accepted, and 2016. Researchers compared fatality rates on 4/20 to the rate in the weeks before and after the study period, finding an overall 12 percent increase in fatalities during the holiday. This figure accounted for an additional 142 driver deaths. Though researchers could not directly link any of the accidents to marijuana use, they suspect some of the crashes were marijuana-related.

Automated technologies are already reducing car crashes

Many people in Pennsylvania have heard a great deal about the potential of automated driving technology on the horizon. Media articles often feature reports about what a future of driverless vehicles could look like. While the vision of a fully autonomous, electric vehicle may still be some way in the future, there are already a number of driving technologies that are helping to improve safety on the road today.

Preparing the framework for fully autonomous vehicles will still require a great deal of work as legal, insurance and other systems adapt to the concept. However, assisted driving technologies are available today and have the potential to make great strides forward in roadway safety. Front collision avoidance technology, for example, can cause a car to brake automatically if the vehicle's sensors detect objects that could lead to a crash. This technology is now standard on an increasing number of vehicles.

Collision avoidance systems can increase road safety

Collision avoidance technologies may be helping Pennsylvania drivers and others across the country to avoid accidents and injuries on the road, according to research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. These technologies, including lane departure warning systems and blind spot alerts, can help to cut down significantly on the number of car accidents, especially ones that cause injuries.

In the study, researchers examined more than 5,000 auto accidents throughout 2015 of the type that these technologies aimed to prevent. It also looked at what happened inside vehicles in the same period that were equipped with the anti-collision technologies. The IIHS found that the targeted crash types, including single-vehicle, head-on and sideswipe crashes, were down by 11 percent in vehicles that had the warning systems. More importantly, injury crashes were down by 21 percent in those same automobiles. The researchers said that their estimates showed that if all cars in 2015 had been equipped with safety systems, more than 55,000 roadway injuries could have been prevented.

Falls a major cause of construction worker deaths

Construction workers in Pennsylvania may want to know about a new searchable database called the Construction FACE (Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation) Database. It aggregates all 768 FACE reports made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health since 1982.

Researchers from the Center for Construction Research and Training used the database to determine the most common cause of construction worker deaths between 1982 and 2015. It concluded that 42 percent were caused by falls. This percentage accounted for 325 workers. Out of the workers who were killed, 54 percent of them didn't have access to a personal fall arrest system, and 23 percent did but neglected to use it. Furthermore, those workers who did not have a PFAS were largely working for building, siding, roofing and sheet metal contractors.

Guidelines aim to prevent fatigue among EMS workers

Researchers from Pennsylvania and a nonprofit advocacy group have issued a set of guidelines designed to help administrators of emergency medical services organizations combat fatigue in the workplace. The research team from the National Association of State EMS Officials and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center scrutinized more than 38,000 documents before issuing the guidelines, and some of the information they uncovered suggests that the problem of fatigue among EMS workers is both widespread and serious.

The documents show that most EMS workers suffer from severe physical and mental fatigue while on the job and that half sleep for less than six hours each night. Poor sleep quality and an inability to recover sufficiently between shifts was also widely reported. The research team presented their findings to a panel of experts before producing their guidelines, which were published on Jan. 11 by the medical journal Prehospital Emergency Care.

FMCSA study to learn more about trucker commutes

Truckers in Pennsylvania may get an opportunity to be a part of a new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration survey. The agency is going to ask 500 drivers for information about their driving habits, including commute lengths. One of the priorities of the FMCSA is to find out if drivers are commuting more than 2.5 hours to their jobs.

It will also seek to learn more about the demographics of bus and truck drivers as well as how many miles they drive each year. Furthermore, the survey could shed some light on driver schedules and when they typically decide to take breaks or stop to eat. Finally, it will seek to learn more about driver work histories. In 2015, the FAST Act asked the FMCSA to carry out such research. The survey will need to be approved by the White House's Office of Management and Budget.

Parking lots can pose a danger of workplace injuries

Workers in Pennsylvania may have significant concerns when it comes to their safety in the workplace; in fact, one of the most common sites of danger on the job can be the parking lot or garage. These areas have some attributes that can make them a frequent location of on-the-job injuries, such as the presence of speeding or careless drivers, pedestrians walking irregularly, blind spots due to parked cars, numerous turns and delivery trucks and other large, frequently stopped vehicles.

Distracted driving, including the use of cell phones and other devices, is known to be a menace on the roadways. A 2016 survey conducted by the National Safety Council highlighted that 67 percent of drivers felt at risk due to others' technological distractions, while 25 percent implicated their own distracted behavior. However, parking lots are a much more common site of distracted driving, including phone calls, texts and even makeup application.