By the year 2030 twenty-percent of the population will be 65 years of age or older. Individuals 85 years and older represent the fastest growing segment of the United States population. As a result, litigators must pay attention to this growing segment of client. There are special concerns and unique medical considerations present in litigating a TBI in the elderly that are not present themselves in other cases. Some of those considerations are outlined below.
DTI (Diffusion Tensor Imaging) is an imaging method that grew out of and is part of MRI. The procedure was invented approximately 20 years ago, and many areas of the country are just beginning to see DTI available in their area. DTI uses MRI technology to analyze the movement of water molecules in the white matter of the brain. Traditional MRI is relatively insensitive to injury in the white matter of the brain. DTI software tracks the degree to which water molecules are moving with random brownian motion. A completely unrestrained molecule moves in a sphere shape.
Brain research in the last forty-years has culminated in earth shaking changes as to how we understand and describe the brain and brain injury. The old paradigm: you are born with x number of brain cells and as you age you lose them. The new paradigm: the brain is constantly shifting both its structure and efficiency based upon environmental factors that go on during our lives resulting in the fact that “you make your own brain.” Three important concepts are central to these momentous changes in how we understand the brain and are of particular relevance to brain injury litigators.
Any brain function can be disrupted by brain trauma: excessive sleepiness, inattention, difficulty concentrating, impaired memory, faulty judgment, depression, irritability, emotional outbursts, disturbed sleep, diminished libido, difficulty switching between two tasks, and slowed thinking. Sorting out bonafide brain damage from the effects of migraine headaches, pain elsewhere in the body, medications, depression, preoccupation with financial loss, job status, loss of status in the community, loss of status in the family, and any ongoing litigation can be a formidable task.