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Hollywood star Bruce Willis’ family recently confirmed that the beloved actor is suffering from aphasia, a cognitive disorder that can affect a person’s ability to understand speech and even speak properly.  The condition can sometimes be linked to a past brain injury.

Willis’ family recently confirmed that the actor is suffering from aphasia. This is a condition that affects the part of the brain that is responsible for understanding speech and regulating the person’s ability to communicate and speak. The condition affects the person’s ability to understand both written as well as spoken language. This makes it difficult to read and comprehend what is being read. Understandably, the condition can pose challenges and can interfere with the person’s ability to lead a normal life. Treatments can include speech and language therapy that can help the person learn to communicate all over again.  Family members may need to be involved in these treatments as well.

There are several causes of aphasia. A traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head is one. Other factors can include a stroke or a slow developing brain tumor. Symptoms can include the inability to understand other’s speech, speaking unintelligible words, writing sentences that make no sense, inability to speak clearly and so on. For a person in Willis’s position – an actor who is required to memorize lines and reproduce these lines in front of a camera – the inability to comprehend written material or speak clear sentences can be crippling. In fact, for most people, an inability to articulate or understand language can pose a serious challenge to the ability lead a normal life.

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Laws requiring drivers and passengers to wear seat belts have been around for decades.  This is because your car’s seat belts are the front line defense in protecting you from injury if you are a victim of a car accident.  Seat belt reminders that emit an audible alert when a driver is not buckled up are useful tools that can help increase seat belt usage rates and reduce the number of injuries and fatalities in auto accidents every year. A new study, however, shows that many seat belt reminders are not that effective.  Auto manufacturers must be made aware of how beneficial this tool can be.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has developed a new rating program that aims to encourage car manufacturers to improve their seat belt reminder technologies.  According to federal standards, a seat belt reminder system should emit an audible signal that lasts for a minimum of 4 to 6 seconds.  In the case of a visual signal, the alert must continue for a period of at least 60 seconds. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway safety has conducted earlier research that indicates that alerts that continue for much longer can be more effective in encouraging motorists to buckle up before they begin driving. In fact, the research found that seat belt usage increases by as much as 34% when audible alerts last much longer than just 4 to 6 seconds. The research indicates that increased seatbelt usage can save as many as 1,500 lives in auto accidents every year.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, audible signals must not only be long-lasting, but must also be loud enough to allow the motorist to hear the signal. Some of the systems that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety studied as part of its research, had alerts that were barely audible above the cabin noise and other vehicle noise.  In others, there was a 25 -second gap between intermittent audible signals, and this could be too long a gap to prove effective in encouraging a motorist to buckle up.

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Brain injuries are caused by traumatic blow to the head and can be a result of car accidents or even slip and fall accidents.

March was National Brain Injury Awareness Month to put the spotlight on life with these catastrophic injuries and the way forward for car accident victims and other people who live with these injuries.

There are many myths about brain injury. Here are some common ones.

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Seat belts are the most important safety feature in your car. A new study finds a high risk of spinal injuries in children who were unbuckled during a motor vehicle accident.

Spinal injuries are not very common in young children, but they are very serious injuries when they do occur. Spinal injuries account for approximately 1 to 2% of all injuries involving children. Although they are comparatively rare compared to other types of injuries, they are linked to a significant drop in the person’s quality of life and his ability to enjoy life after the injury.

The researchers wanted to see the incidence of spinal injuries, especially pediatric spinal fractures, in younger motorists between the age of 15 and 17. The researchers focused on a total of more than 34,500 patients as part of the study. The average age of patients in the study was 15 years.

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Auto safety technology can be used now to mitigate the effects of many of the factors that cause accidents, including distracted driving and speeding.  A recent story on NPR highlighted the various technologies that help avoid the risk of driving drunk.

The role of tech in helping prevent car accidents cannot be underestimated.  Auto makers and the government have long recognized this fact, and have collaborated in a program called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety.  The program has developed tech that prevents a car from moving if the technology identifies that the motorist’s blood alcohol levels are above the legal limits.  Sensors are used to measure alcohol levels even more unobtrusively. These sensors are installed in the windshield of the car, and the technology requires the motorist to blow in the direction of these sensors, so he can begin operating the vehicle.

While this may be a reasonably effective way of identifying blood alcohol levels, the researchers are working on enhancing the technology to make it possible for the sensors to analyze the motorist’s breathing, and identify blood alcohol content while differentiating his breathing from that of other passengers in the car. The researchers are working on other ways of detecting alcohol content, including a light emitting technology that would shine a light on the motorist’s fingers and identify blood alcohol levels based on the amount of light that is reflected back. The technology is still at the prototype stage, but the goal is to have the technology in areas where the driver is likely to place his hands, like the steering wheel.

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A new report ranks Georgia roadways and highways at number 14 in the country  based on their condition.

Every year, the Reason Foundation releases its annual report which measures and ranks all fifty states based on the condition of highways across the state, including the condition of its pavements, traffic congestion, condition of bridges and traffic fatality rates. The report also measures the cost effectiveness of the state’s spending on its highways and bridges.

The report places our state at first place in urban arterial pavement condition, which are roadways that have four to eight lanes. Georgia placed third for the condition of rural arterial roads, roads that have two to four lanes.  Overall, Georgia seems to fare much better, compared to most of our other southern neighbors. The state is ranked at number 28 in overall fatalities.  Georgia was ranked at number 23 in the condition of its rural interstate pavements. Traffic congestion is another important marker for traffic safety, and the state was ranked at number 34 on this marker. The state was ranked at number 7 on structurally deficient bridges.

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At least half a dozen traffic safety rules that directly impact motorist safety continue to remain backlogged, while motorists remain at risk of injuries. According to a report, a number of traffic safety laws, including those that would require back seat passengers to wear seat belts and trucks to come with speed limiters, continue to remain backlogged.

The back seat seatbelt law continues to remain pending in spite of a law passed in 2012 that required the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to direct automakers to install devices in their cars that would warn the driver if a rear seat passenger was not wearing a seatbelt. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was given a period of three years to act, but the agency has failed to do so.

This back seat law is just one of several traffic safety laws whose implementation has been delayed, placing motorists at risk of injuries in accidents. The Associated Press conducted a review of several such rule-making actions that have been delayed under the last three federal administrations.  The review found that at least 13 such traffic safety rules are several years overdue. These rules have long crossed the deadlines that were set down for their execution.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released fatality rates for the first 3 months of 2021, and the picture is not good. The statistics represent an increase in fatalities during the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period of time in 2020.

When it comes to highway deaths, there seems to be no end to the bad news. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted a total of 8,730 traffic accident fatalities during January, February and March 2021. This is an increase over the 7,900 fatalities that the agency projected for the first three months of 2020. This also means a 10.5% increase over the numbers last year.

That is a staggering increase, and the data presents a sobering picture for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which says that these fatality numbers are projected to have increased in spite of the fact that there was a decline in the number of vehicle miles travelled this quarter. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded significant increases in traffic fatality numbers across all of its regions. Georgia falls in Region 4 which recorded an 18% increase in the number of traffic fatalities recorded in the first quarter of 2021.

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Predicting the amount of brain damage that has resulted from a traumatic brain injury continues to be challenging for physicians.  A new study finds that measuring a certain type of brain protein and its count in the blood could help determine the extent of the damage that has occurred.

Thousands of Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury every year.  A traumatic brain injury occurs when a person suffers a blow or jolt to the head. A blow like this could occur when a person has been in a car accident or motorcycle or bicycle accident. A brain injury can also occur in a fall accident, especially in a situation where a person has suffered a fall from a height. A traumatic brain injury can also occur in a workplace accident, like one involving a blow to the head from falling debris or equipment. In all these cases, there is trauma to the head, which could translate to damage to the brain. 

Although there are many procedures that can help detect the extent of the injury that has occurred, determining the exact extent of brain damage can be challenging for doctors. It’s hard to overstate the importance of determining brain damage severity as quickly as possible. When such a determination has been made, treatment can begin quickly, and the chances of recovery are greater. 

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Seatbelts are easily one of the front line defenses and driver or passenger in a vehicle can use to protect themselves in a car accident.  Automakers are taking the initiative to encourage more motorists to wear seatbelts while driving in order to reduce the risk of injuries in accidents.

General Motors is one automaker that is introducing new features that encourage motorists to buckle up. The system is based on an older concept at the automaker, and features a technology that does not allow motorists to drive immediately after switching on the ignition. While the car will start, gears will not activate for twenty seconds after. This gives the motorist and passengers time to buckle up.

The company’s Chevrolet division had introduced a system like this in 2015. Those systems are estimated to have resulted in a 16 percent increase in seatbelt use in motorists driving these vehicles.  The 2020 models come with systems that encourage motorists to buckle up before driving. These are available on the Chevrolet Caribou, Colorado and Traverse models. In 2022, the systems will be available on the Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks as well.

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