In a previous blog, I addressed traumatic brain injury and objective tests which depict them. We have come to hear of CT scans, CTA’s and MRI’s and, most recently, PET and SPECT scans. A recent study undertaken by Boston University Medical School also offers objective evidence, that of a ghoulish sort, from post-mortem brain exams. The researchers have found signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), even appearing on individuals as young as 18. These individuals, who were football players, had brains that were showing the effects of concussions.
To present these cases carefully, we need clinical evidence. That comes from clinicians, neurologists, primary care physicians, psychologists, social workers, etc. But a goldmine of information comes from co-workers, teachers, and particularly family members. Who can better describe the emotional and behavioral changes that most of us who practice in this area are forever looking for? When a family member testifies that the plaintiff has turned sullen, withdrawn, disengaged and forgetful we know that this difficult picture can be presented in a comprehensive fashion.
Such testimony from a person close to the plaintiff will often provide real vignettes. What about the allegation of bias? I respond by noting that if a picture is worth a thousand words, a vignette from a caring family member is as valuable a verbal picture as can be obtained. Bias be damned if the testimony is believable and probative. Yes, have the doctor, the neuroradiologist, testify to what the brain film shows; yes, have the primary care doctor, the clinician, describe the person’s injury; and yes have the neuropsychologist describe the testing. But don’t forget the mother, father, and the other family members. They just may know best about the effects of the injury.
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