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A Super prognosis for Jim McMahon

Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the biggest football game of them all:  the Superbowl. In honoring heroes of gridiron's past, ESPN's award-winning 30-for-30 series recently provided a documentary on the winners of Superbowl 20:  the 1985 Chicago Bears.

You know the names. Walter Payton. Refrigerator Perry. Former Razorback and NFL Hall of Famer Dan Hampton. Mike Singletary. Steve McMichael. Willie Gault. I remember Willie Gault being the guy you threw the ball to when you weren't giving it to Bo Jackson on Tecmo Bowl. There was also Gary Fencik. Wilbur Marshall. Dave Duerson. The list goes on and on.

And then there was the QB. The guy who personified the whole team. The sunglasses. The look. The attitude. The "Punky QB." Jim McMahon. The cocky BYU QB gave the Bears offense the balance it needed to win, and win big. I probably haven't told you anything you did not already know (including Willie Gault being the Raiders go-to wide receiver on Tecmo Bowl).

What you may not know is how McMahon's life has been since retiring from football. Over the last few years, several NFL players have been diagnosed with "Chronic Traumatic Encephalitis." The only way to diagnosed the disease is posthumously. Several former players have been diagnosed, such as Frank Gifford and Ken Stabler.

Some players have committed suicide as a result of the symptoms, such as Junior Seau.

"The disease is widely believed to stem from repetitive trauma to the head, and [thought to] lead to conditions such as memory loss, depression and dementia."

McMahon is different. He has experienced the same symptoms of the now deceased ex-NFL players. Through an acquaintance, McMahon received an upright MRI in upstate New York. The doctor "took a closer look at McMahon's neck and found that the top two vertebrae were misaligned, which caused a blockage of his cerebral spinal fluid."

McMahon ended up in a nearby office of a doctor specializing in treating disorders of the upper neck. Once properly adjusted, McMahon described the relief as "a toilet flushing." 

The same cerebral spinal fluid blockage McMahon lived with for so long has been linked to whiplash associated disorders.

In a 2010 study published in the Brain Injury Journal, researchers took 1,200 people and subdivided them into four groups. One subdivision involved non-trauma versus trauma (from motor vehicle collisions). The other subdivision involved an upright versus lying down specialized type of MRI sequence that took place on each individual.

The researchers wanted to know how far the lower brain extended down into the base of the skull in each subgroup. An imaginary line was drawn across the base of the head from which to measure, as seen below:

The findings showed the lower brain in the trauma group to be significantly lower than the lower brain in the upright and lying down MRI groups. This effect was seen 2.5 times more often in the upright trauma group versus the lying trauma group; and seen 4 times more often in either of the non-trauma groups. The authors concluded

Unless the difference between trauma and non-trauma cases was a result of unforeseen variability, it is reasonable to conclude these results reflect a degree of gravity dependent instability in the trauma group that was not observed in the non-trauma group. It is probable that the differences observed between the study groups were due to the independent variables of interest rather than some unforeseen bias between the groups.
— Michael D. Freeman, Scott Rosa, David Harshfield, Francis Smith, Robert Bennett, Christopher J. Centeno, Ezriel Kornel, Ake Nystrom, Dan Heffez & Sean S. Kohles, A case-control study of cerebellar tonsillar ectopia (Chiari) and head/neck trauma (whiplash) 24(7-8) Brain Injury 988 (July 2010).

The upright MRI explains the differences between the upright and lying down groups, as well as McMahon finding out what was wrong with him. The authors of the study stated the lower brain extending down into the base of the skull "is due to the fact the flotation level of the brain is dependent on the amount of cerebral spinal fluid within the dural covering of the spine and brain." Crash trauma causing a dural leak could result in a cerebral spinal fluid leak and lowered pressure," resulting in the lower brain causing a cerebral spinal fluid blockage at the base of the skull.

McMahon had this to say about the problems facing former NFL players:  "Let's raise the awareness about this problem. I wish they had figured out what was wrong with me sooner, but at least I got some help. Let's help others out there and let's deal with the problem."

The same could be said of injury victims in car wrecks. The 30-for-30 documentary on the '85 Bears premiered on February 4, 2016. It had a segment discussing McMahon's journey after football. Watch this segment as well as the rest of the documentary about "the Superbowl Shuffling" Bears.



Sebastian County jury tells State Farm safety rules matter

Don and Taylor spent the week of December 1-4, 2015 in Fort Smith trying a motor vehicle collision case. It was a classic example of an insurance company hiding behind their insured. The wreck happened after our client dropped her son off at a Boys and Girls Club in Fort Smith.

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She was headed home with her daughter when another vehicle hit them in the middle of their van on the passenger’s side. An elderly State Farm insured did not look to his left before pulling out of the parking lot of a barber shop. The elderly State Farm insured admitted to violating the safety rule to pay attention.

The collision threw our client toward the point of impact. Her torso got caught in the seat belt. This caused an aggravation of a pre-existing back condition that had given her no pain in over a decade.

Our client reported back pain to the police officer who responded to the scene. Our client's pain intensified overnight and she went to the ER the next day. The ER found degenerative changes in her back; told her she would probably be a little stiff; prescribed anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers; and told her she would probably be fine in a few weeks. Our client took the medication. A few weeks passed. Her pain returned and worsened. She also starting having mild incontinence.

Seven months before the wreck she had seen a chiropractic physician for mild neck pain. So she went back to him three months after the wreck. Her chiropractic physician sent her to the ER on her very first visit. The same degenerative changes were found at the ER as three months beforehand. The most noticeable of these changes were at the same level our client had an old work injury in 1995. Her incontinence problems worsened. She began seeing her family doctor. This resulted in a referral chain to a neurosurgeon; a pain management specialist; a urologist; and a gastroenterologist. Our client also had neck injuries from the wreck. These injuries resulted in a 23% whole person impairment rating.

Before the wreck our client was a hard-working mother of seven adopted children. She took pride in being a big woman. She also coached her children's sports teams; drove and maintained a school bus; enjoyed being a substitute teacher; took occasional family vacations to Ohio and other locations; enjoyed attending her children's sporting events; and kept an orderly home while cooking and cleaning everyday for her family. After the wreck, she began having "accidents" in public. These "accidents" were caused by her incontinence problems. They not only embarrassed her, but also her children and anyone else with her at the time they happened. She learned to avoid "accidents" by not eating. As a result, she lost a significant amount of weight. This negatively affected her self-esteem. A nerve stretch injury was diagnosed in her low back as a result of the wreck. This kept her from being able to sit or stand for long periods of time. The nerve stretch injury eliminated her ability to watch her children's sporting events the way she could before the wreck.

It forced her to quit coaching. It stopped her from adopting a sibling of her other children. It forced others to pick up the physical tasks required of a mother and wife. Our client's dream was to become a full-time teacher of at-risk junior high children. She went back to school after the wreck to become certified. However, her injuries from the wreck forced her to give up this dream. Her only way of being gainfully employed after the wreck was to have an understanding supervisor. She worked several jobs where her supervisor allowed her to take unscheduled breaks as a result of "accidents."

Our client incurred a little under $40,000 in medical expenses when the trial began. She sustained injuries in the wreck that will be with her for as long as she lives. The most State Farm offered was $11,500 despite their elderly insured having only $25,000 in coverage. This is the minimum amount required by state law. State Farm's low ball offer left our client with no choice but to try her case to a jury of her peers. State Farm relied on the jury to give their elderly insured a pass. They counted on the jury to disregard the traffic safety rules that keep us all safe from danger.

Instead, the jury enforced the safety rules. They returned a verdict of $84,500. Clearly, the jury cared much more about the safety of their community than State Farm. The jury cared about a safety rule violation leading to a teacher who could no longer help kids nobody else wanted. The jury cared about a wife who could not help her husband make ends meet as she did before the wreck. They cared about a mom who is less of a mother to her children. They cared about a member of the community who is embarrassed about the person she has become. They cared about protecting the life of one of their own.

What does State Farm care about? They tried to hide behind their insured and get away with it. They also helped sponsor tort-reform legislation during the regular session of the 90th General Assembly in 2015. This legislation would have required injured Arkansans to receive no benefit for the premium dollars paid to their own automobile insurance companies. State Farm cares much more about their own profits than taking care of the people of Arkansas. Does that sound "like a good neighbor"?




Keep safe on the water with these boating safety tips

As a long Independence Day weekend quickly approaches, many of us will be heading to lakes and rivers to relax. Unfortunately, these summer holidays usually see an uptick in tragic, avoidable incidents. The Arkansas Game & Commission has a website dedicated to boating safety, which we hope you'll visit. You can also download a free PDF of the Arkansas Boating Handbook. Some of the high points include:

  • Boat operators born in 1986 or later must have an AGFC-approved operator's card in their possession. The course and exam cost $24.50 and is available online. There is no minimum age to take the exam.
  • Make sure your liability insurance policy is current on your boat (for jet skis and boats 50 hp or more).
  • Let a relative know where you're going in case of an emergency.
  • Be sure to pack sun block. No one likes looking like a lobster at work after a holiday weekend.
  • If you're going to be out at night, make sure all lights on the boat are operational.
  • Don't overload your boat — most boats have a yellow and white capacity plate. I once saw a party barge with 20+ people on it plow the front end under the surface of the water. It threw many of the passengers to the floor of the boat. Luckily, no one was injured.
  • Wear life jackets, especially when under power. Be prepared to throw a flotation device to anyone falling overboard. Make sure life jackets for kids are weight-appropriate.
  • Keep a good lookout, and maintain a safe speed and distance from other boats. 
  • Don't operate any boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Patrol boats can and will pull you over, and patrols increase on holidays.
  • Don't litter, and avoid glass containers. There's nothing like a sliced foot to ruin a perfectly good weekend.

Enjoy your holiday weekend, and be safe out there! Peace!

Avoid wrecks with awareness of motion induced blindness

I was copied on an email thread recently about motion-induced blindness (MIB). That's a phenomenon where moving objects in an observer's peripheral vision can disappear. Researchers think this can cause motor vehicle collisions when a driver simply can't see someone approaching from the side. Awareness here is key: one can avoid MIB by not simply staring in front of the car, but rather shifting one's gaze every few seconds. We've all heard from driver's ed that you should check your mirrors every few seconds, and that helps avoid MIB as well.

Source:  Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Here's the entire email thread:

In a motor accident, where a speeding car hits a slower moving vehicle coming from the side, the speeding car driver often swear that they just didn’t see the vehicle coming from the left or right. Well, they aren’t lying. They really don’t see the vehicle coming from the side, in spite of broad daylight.
This phenomenon on the car drivers’ part is known as “Motion-Induced Blindness.” It is definitely frightening and explained at the website noted below.
Once airborne, pilots are taught to alternate their gaze between scanning the horizon and scanning their instrument panel, and never to fix their gaze for more than a couple of seconds on any single object. They are taught to continually keep their heads on a swivel and their eyes always moving. Because, if you fix your gaze on one object long enough while you yourself are in motion, your peripheral vision goes blind.
‘Till about three decades ago, this “heads on swivel & eyes moving” technique was the only way to spot other aircraft in the skies around. Now days they have on-board radars, but the old technique still holds good.
Just click on the link below for a small demonstration of motion-induced blindness. You will see a revolving array of blue crosses on a black background. There is a flashing green dot in the centre and three fixed yellow dots around it. If you fix your gaze on the green dot for more than a few seconds, the yellow dots will disappear at random, either singly, or in pairs, or all three together.
In reality, the yellow dots are always there - just move your focus to see them.
Just watch the yellow dots for some time to ensure that they don’t go anywhere!
So, if you are driving at a high speed on a highway, and if you fix your gaze on the road straight ahead for not very long, you will not see a car, a scooter, a buggy, a bicycle, a buffalo or even a human being approaching from the side.
NOW REVERSE THE SITUATION. If you are crossing a road on foot and you see a speeding car approaching, there’s a 90% chance that the driver isn’t seeing you, because his/her peripheral vision may be blind. And you may be in that blind zone!