The Long Road Back, Episode II

A young man we first profiled earlier this summer continues to make slow but steady progress as he recovers from a serious brain injury.

Doctors did not expect Luke Burnham to recover after a car hit him and threw him thirty feet in the air. Mr. Burnham arrived minimally conscious at a Houston hospital with crushed bones and a serious brain injury. About a month later, specialists recall that he could finally move his left hand. A short time later, doctors put Mr. Burnham on a self-pedaling bike, and his recovery started to gain momentum. Doctors released him from the hospital so he could begin classes this fall for his senior year at St. Louis Catholic High School, where he is now an honor roll student. Mr. Burnham’s short-term goal is to be free of his wheelchair in time to walk across the stage this coming spring; after graduation, he wants to attend medical school and become a pediatrician. [Read more…]

Disaster Relief Effort Ends In Tragedy

A 72-year-old flood relief volunteer from Alabama suffered a fatal head injury after a fall at an area laundromat.

Bryant Edwards “Sonny” Ellis had just arrived in Denham Springs from Satsuma, Ala. to assist other relief volunteers who were already on-site. According to Satsuma First Baptist Church Pastor Roy Hill, Mr. Ellis slipped and fell in the parking lot of a Denham Springs coin-operated laundry facility. Friends remembered him as a selfless person who loved to give of himself. “Sonny always wanted to be involved in whatever was going on, and he loved to serve,” Rev. Hill remarked.

Mr. Hill is survived by his wife of fifty years Gloria Hill, daughters Kim Moore and Chris Parker, five granddaughters and a great-grandson. [Read more…]

The Long Road Back

Just over a year after a Lake Charles teenager sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car crash, he is leaving the hospital and going back to school for his senior year.

17-year-old Luke Burnham has been at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston ever since he was hit by a car while jogging. At first, doctors worried that the soccer player and cross-country runner would not survive the crash, and if he did, his brain injury would make him a vegetable. Initially, their fears seemed to be well-founded, because Mr. Burnham could only communicate by looking at “yes-no” cards and could not move, other than to straighten one index finger. But after aggressive treatment and therapy, he is ready to go back to school this fall. Although he is somewhat behind, Mr. Burnham took summer school classes, so he should be able to graduate with his peers.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all my friends again and all my teachers,” he remarked. [Read more…]

State Senator Faces Multiple Assault Charges

Orleans Criminal District Court Judge Camille Buras refused to raise the bail of a state senator who may be suffering from the lingering effects of a brain injury.

Prosecutors wanted to increase 44-year-old Troy Brown’s bail from $5,000 to $25,000 as he awaits trial on charges stemming from a November fight with a woman characterized as Senator Brown’s “side friend.” Eight months later, authorities arrested Senator Brown again, this time after he allegedly bit his wife’s forearm during an argument. He says he is “not able to recall” the details of either incident, because of memory loss issues that began when he sustained a head injury in 1991.

Louisiana Senate President John Alario (R-Westwego) said that the chamber would remove Senator Brown (D-Ascension) from all his current committee assignments; Senator Alario also suggested that Senator Brown consider resigning.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Even though over 1.7 million Americans sustain a TBI every year, these injures are frequently misdiagnosed, and as a result, often not properly treated. Many TBIs occur in motor vehicle crashes, and the disorientation and nausea/vomiting that are frequently associated with brain injuries are often dismissed as shock from the car crash. Often, victims only seek treatment for TBIs when their symptoms persist for several days and they develop new ones, like headaches, memory loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and moodswings or personality changes. In time, victims eventually develop dementia-like symptoms and even die.

Motor vehicle crashes cause so many TBIs because when the vehicle comes to a sudden stop, people and objects inside the car keep moving at the same speed. It’s like being in a roller coaster: when the roller coaster suddenly swerves, the occupants keep going forward for a fraction of a second. That effect is multiplied at freeway speeds.

Crash-related TBIs, and all other brain injuries, require prompt diagnosis, aggressive medical treatment, and extended physical therapy, so victims are often entitled to significant compensation. This compensation includes money for economic damages, like medical bills, and noneconomic damages, like loss of consortium (companionship and contribution to household management).

TBIs often have life-altering consequences for victims, as well as their families and friends. For a free consultation with a diligent personal injury lawyer in Lake Charles, contact Hoffhoss Devall. Our attorneys are licensed in both Texas and Louisiana.


‘A Gentleman And A Gunfighter’?

One hundred thirty years ago this month, notorious Wild West gunslinger Clay Allison, whose childhood brain injury probably explained his lifelong erratic and violent behavior, was killed in a wagon accident near his home in Pecos, Texas.

Mr. Allison was born around 1840 in Tennessee. Some years later, the Confederate Army discharged him for what doctors called a “partly epileptic and partly maniacal” condition, an almost certain reference to a brain injury. After the War of Northern Aggression, Mr. Allison moved west and either single-handedly or in cooperation with others killed several innocent people. He married in 1881, and though his violent rages ceased his bizarre behavior continued: he once rode naked through the streets of Mobeetie and, following a dispute with a dentist, pinned the hapless man to the ground and forcibly extracted one of his teeth with a pair of pliers. [Read more…]

Neglected Veterans In The Bayou State To Receive Proper Brain Injury Treatment

Thousands of military veterans in Louisiana and two dozen other states have received inadequate treatment for Traumatic Brain Injuries, the government now admits. So, the Veterans Administration will offer new TBI exams to about 25,000 veterans nationwide; some victims could be eligible for retroactive benefits dating back to 2007.

The investigation began at a VA medical center in Minnesota where, according to records obtained after a Freedom of Information Act request, only one out of the twenty-one professional TBI examiners qualified under the VA’s own standards. These reports prompted an investigation, which was spearheaded by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN); the investigation revealed that many veterans were initially misdiagnosed and others received insufficient medical attention.

David McLenachen, the VA’s Deputy Undersecretary for Disability Assistance, said that “taking a look” at these disputed cases is “the only fair and right thing to do.” [Read more…]