Tag Archives: Concussion

New tool can measure balance in concussion patients, Equilibrate is used in many settings

"Equilibrate is a proprietary, web-integrated, clinical assessment, therapy and data reference tool that combines real time objective upper and lower body measures with the judgment and experience of a clinical professional to improve patient outcomes." - company website

“Equilibrate is a proprietary, web-integrated, clinical assessment, therapy and data reference tool that combines real time objective upper and lower body measures with the judgment and experience of a clinical professional to improve patient outcomes.” – company website

It is easy to take balance for granted. Our sense of equilibrium, also called equilibrioception[i], is the physiological sense we need to stand and walk without falling over. Our eyes work with our ears and our body’s sense of where we are in space compared to other objects. Loss of balance, due to a failure in our balance systems can be rather upsetting and stressful. Balance functioning can be impaired by traumatic brain injury. Concussions are serious injuries because the upset to the balance systems can lead to more serious injuries when an individual cannot control their balance to walk, run or stand correctly.

Professional football players, college athletes and orthopedic surgery patients are more frequently treated with a new technology designed to measure an individual’s balance. The tool known as Equilibrate is made by a New York company, Balance Engineering. Since 2009, Equilibrate has been used to evaluate military combat personnel and elderly patients with falling risks. Balance Engineering chairman and co-founder, Jack Shickler, states “Balance indicates everything about what’s going on in your body.[ii]

Healthcare professionals for a wide variety of purposes use Balance testing tools.

The Equilibrate software was an initial concept that Shickler thought would be useful for his daughter who owns a dance studio. If you were able to test an individual’s sense of balance, you might be better able to predict who would be a better candidate for dance instruction. The ideas for other uses quickly spread. Now competitive athletes and their trainers can better rely on Equilibrate testing to better judge a player’s balance and safety before deciding to allow them to return to practice or play after a concussion.

Hospitals are using this balance measuring software from coast to coast. According to Balance Engineering, the Equilibrate system meets evidence-based preventative medicine needs to correctly assess and treat patients with balance issues. Watch this promotional video to see more!

Significant money, time and effort is invested in the growth of the Equilibrate systems for balance.

Equilibrate’s parent, Balance Engineering, has invested more than $1M in its product. Based in New York State, the company sought to join the Albany Medical Center’s incubator program; “The incubator at Albany Med is among several accelerators in the region that are aiming to tie research to commercialization and create a regional support system for entrepreneurs.[iii]

With dedicated investors and an infrastructure to foster further awareness and application of the Equilibrate system for balance measuring, we are likely to see more industries using the software tool to better treat and monitor football players, dancers, military troops, injured people and our elderly patients.

Michael V. Favia & Associates works with injured people who suffer from concussion symptoms due to a variety of sources, from accidental falls to sports injuries. To learn more about the risks involved with traumatic brain injury and how the law protects injured parties, please be in touch. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a meeting with an attorney at your convenience. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, please visit the firm’s website and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.

[i] www.TheMedSchoolProject.com, The Sixth Sense: Equilibrioception, by Marco Narajos, Nov. 26, 2011.

[ii] Albany Business Review, Startup focuses on patients with concussions, balance issues, by Chelsea Diana, Jun. 29, 2015.

[iii] Albany Business Review, Albany Med to open accelerator this spring, by Megan Rogers, Feb. 25, 2015.

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Awareness and prevention methods might lead to a reduction in NFL concussion rates

(Credit: CBS 2)

(Credit: CBS 2)

If professional football players are really playing the game differently, the NFL correctly claims that concussion rates are 25 percent less; education and awareness campaigns must be working. The NFL data on injured reserve list players shows the significant decrease in the rate of player concussions. This news was recently promoted at the annual pre-Super Bowl health and safety news conference.

The retired NFL player lawsuits and media coverage promoted increased awareness and research into player education, injury and reporting. The 2014 season was the first in which NFL injury data was electronically collected from all of the teams in the league.

With the new methods for reporting there are more reports of injuries.

There has been a 15 percent increase in injury reporting in the 2014 season, up from last year.  “We knew it was going to be up this year, because we transitioned to the electronic medical records,” Mack said in a telephone interview, echoing Miller’s explanation. “We can’t conclude the incidence of injuries is up. We know the reporting of injuries is up.[i]

Among the data highlights, there were 59 concussions resulting from helmet-to-helmet or shoulder-to-helmet hits during the 2014 season. Last year’s number was just around twice that many. Educating players about how to avoid dangerous hits seems to lead to players avoiding head injuries.

“Players are changing the way they’re tackling,” NFL Senior Vice President of Health and Safety Policy Jeff Miller said. “They’re changing the way they play the game.[ii]

Some claim reduced practice time and new safety protocols affect injuries and reporting.

At the end of the 2013 season, New England Patriots coach, Bill Belichick, suggested that a decrease in the allowed number of practices in both the regular season as well as preseason and offseason contributed to higher injury numbers.[iii] When the U.S. Congress examined NFL concussion policies, and thousands of retired players also criticized the league, the decision was made to implement new safety measures and reduce practice times.

Technology advances for monitoring players, on site game day neurologists, and protecting receivers from being hit by the crown of the helmet are all part of a collection of new methods the NFL is using to reduce head injuries and monitor players to make sure they are blocking and hitting appropriately.

Michael V. Favia & Associates represent clients with sports injuries. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a meeting with an attorney at your convenience. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, please visit the firm’s website and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.

[i] CBS New York: AP: NFL Claims Concussions Down 25 Percent. Jan. 29, 2015.

[ii] See HNi above.

[iii] See HNi above.

Congress on Concussions: A review of recent press and activity on contact sports and brain injuries

Thursday in testimony on Capitol Hill. “That's one of the reasons we love it.”"

“UNL physics professor Timothy Gay explains the physics of football in this file photo. “American football is an inherently violent sport,” he said Thursday in testimony on Capitol Hill. “That’s one of the reasons we love it.”” Article Link 

According to research calculations conducted by a physics professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “professional football players have become so much bigger and faster than the amount of force at work along the line of scrimmage is now twice what it was when the NFL started.[i]” Professor Timothy Gay testified at a congressional hearing in Congress about the current research findings about concussions and in explaining the force of some hits in football. “A helmet-to-helmet collision at top speed is roughly the same as having a 16-pound bowling ball dropped on a player’s helmet from 8 feet up.[ii]” Is football dangerous? Yes, as professor, Gay says, “American football is an inherently violent sport,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons we love it.[iii]

Congress appears to be urging the NFL to continue making changes to its policies with respect to concussions.

VIDEO LINK: ‘This Week’: Congress on Concussions. ABC News’ Jim Avila and ESPN’s Jeremy Schapp on the recent congressional hearing on sports concussions.[iv]

Sports and safety go together more frequently than peanut butter and jelly lately. The increase in research, published findings, and incidents of long-term injuries and damages from concussions are popular topics on the field, in the courtroom and on Capitol Hill. The video linked above mentions some notable facts about sports and traumatic brain injury:

  • 250,000 kids get head injuries
  • 6 million kids play tackle or flag football
  • Players absorb 650 hits to the head every season.
  • Forces each players hitting at full speeds exceeds ¾ a ton.
  • Soccer players are the second most at risk of injury

Contrary to what many critics think, the intention behind many of the concussion lawsuits, research, publications and discussion is not about taking contact sports away, rather the goal is to teach players how to tackle safely and learn to avoid the most dangerous hits.

A change in the culture of contact sports like football is also a factor. Historically there has been what some call a “misplaced macho attitude” encouraging injured players to continue practicing and playing despite their concussion injuries. In the early days of brain injury research, less was known about the long-term effects of concussions. Today, doctors and organizations concerned with sports safety conduct extensive symposiums to share information and promote awareness.

What can or should Congress do? The video linked above suggests Congress should continue to nudge the NFL to make sure research is funded and advances are made in concussion education and prevention. The NFL can send a message that football can be played safely.

Michael V. Favia & Associates represent clients with sports injuries. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a meeting with an attorney at your convenience. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, please visit the firm’s website and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.


[i] Omaha World-Herald: UNL professors take the lead at concussion hearings in Congress. By Joseph Morton, Mar. 14, 2014.

[ii] Omaha World-Herald quote from article cited above.

[iii] Omaha World-Herald quote from article cited above.

Why the $765M agreed settlement of the consolidated NFL concussion cases remains on hold

Chicago attorney, Thomas Demetrio confers, that more evidence must be seen to justify that the settlement will satisfy the needs of the injured players over the next many years.

Chicago attorney, Thomas Demetrio, agrees that more evidence must be seen to justify that the settlement will satisfy the needs of the injured players over the next many years.

U.S. District Judge, Anita B. Brody, wants more calculations to ensure just awards of damages for ex-NFL players in the settlement of the well-publicized consolidated concussion cases. Denying a motion to approve the $765M settlement on Tuesday, Brody, “noted that the class of approximately 20,000[i] could overwhelm the [settlement] fund, even if only 10 percent of its members [with cognitive injuries] file claims against the $675 million set aside to pay claims, working out to $337,500 per player,” as reported by Fox News.[ii] To receive part of the special injury compensation fund the former players must present medical evidence of their cognitive injury.

Judges in cases like this must ensure that a settlement amount is adequate and fair?

Settlement amounts are commonly disputed in litigation involving multiple defendants and the variety of damages they sustain. In this case the retired players have a variety of short and long-term physical and cognitive injuries. Some are deceased former players whose families will receive part of the settlement as authorized representatives. The settlement proceeds will be used to cover medical benefits for injured players, to fund medical and safety research, and for the expenses of litigation, including attorneys’ fees.

Judge Brody said in the court opinion, “in the absence of additional supporting evidence, I have concerns about the fairness and adequacy of the settlement.” The lawsuit in this case includes more than 4,500 retired NFL players who sued the league for traumatic brain and head injuries sustained during their employment[iii]. The exact amount of injured players qualified to take from the special $675M fund is unknown, so it is difficult to know if that fund will be adequate and fair.

Medical experts, economists and actuaries are expected to provide additional reasonable and necessary information the judge may review to evaluate if the agreed settlement will be enough to compensate the injured and families of deceased former players.

Many people think the NFL is getting off lightly given that the settlement funds are to be paid over a period of 20 years.

WATCH: Judge fears $765 million not enough 

The link above is to an ESPN video discussing reactions to Judge Brody’s decision. Tia McNeill, former wife of retired NFL player, Fred McNeill[iv], states that she is happy with the ruling because it allows another look at the qualifying factors for eligibility to receive the settlement. Chicago attorney, Thomas Demetrio, agrees that more evidence must be seen to justify that the settlement will satisfy the needs of the injured players over the next many years.

The Law Offices of Michael V. Favia represents injured people, including athletes. Michael V. Favia is an advisory board member and is active with the Sports Legacy Institute and its work in increasing awareness of and education to increase safety and prevent traumatic brain injuries among athletes.  With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a meeting with an attorney at your convenience. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, please visit the firm’s website and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.


[i] Terms of the settlement include an award of damages to any retired NFL player as of the date the settlement is accepted. See CBS Sports: NFL, former players reach settlement in concussion lawsuit. By Ryan Wilson, Aug. 29,2013.

[ii] Fox News: Ex-NFL players eye $765M settlement, even if they haven’t signed on. By Joshua Rhett Miller, Jan. 16, 2014.

[iii] CBS Sports: Judge rejects initial $765M NFL concussion lawsuit settlement. By Will Brinson, Jan. 14, 2014.

Press Release: Favia recognized in Leading Health Lawyers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 MICHAEL V. FAVIA SELECTED FOR “LEADING HEALTH LAWYERS”

Health And Injury Law And Litigation Attorney, Michael V. Favia Recognized By Chicago Lawyer Magazine In “Leading Health Lawyers”

CHICAGO – The list of Chicago’s “Leading Health Lawyers” published in the September 2013 Chicago Lawyer magazine recognizes Michael V. Favia, selected for the honor and designation appearing among “Leading Health Lawyers” in Chicago.

Commenting on the recognition, Favia stated, “Obviously, I am very honored to be recognized as a Leading Lawyer by my peers in the legal community.  I really do try being a role model in the way I practice. I work hard and assist my clients to achieve a desired result while remaining professional in every respect with my clients, opponents and assigned jurists.”

Favia is a member of the selective Leading Lawyer Network. He consistently earns an “AV” Preeminent Rating (highest possible for both legal ability and ethics) from the prestigious Martindale-Hubbell National Lawyer Rating Peer Review Board.

Favia is the principal and managing attorney at the Chicago area law firm of Michael V. Favia & Associates, representing individuals, professionals, small and large corporations, and professional groups and organizations.

Favia has more than 25 years of experience in health law and litigation and works in conjunction with a team of litigators, experts and investigators to advise and represent clients. He is experienced working on both sides of professional licensing matters, the prosecution and defense. He is a former Assistant Illinois Attorney General and Chief Prosecutor for the Illinois Dept. of Professional Regulation (“IDPR”), now known as the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (“IDFPR”).

Favia also owns a professional licensing consulting company where he and affiliated former prosecutors, investigators and professional licensing board members assist licensed professionals in their business, regulatory and IDFPR related matters.

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If you would like more information about Michael V. Favia & Associates, or to schedule an interview of Michael V. Favia, please contact the firm by calling (773) 631-4580 or send an email to favia@lawyer.com.

Local sports heroes attend Chicago event to support concussion awareness, education and policy

Former Chicago Bear, Gary Fencik is on the advisory board and event committee for an Oct. 7 event sponsored by the Sports Legacy Institute to benefit the Chicago Concussion Coalition.

Former Chicago Bear, Gary Fencik is on the advisory board and event committee for an Oct. 7 event sponsored by the Sports Legacy Institute to benefit the Chicago Concussion Coalition.

On Monday, October 7, 2013, The Sports Legacy Institute, in conjunction with the Chicago Concussion Coalition, held their annual fall reception to benefit the Chicago Concussion Coalition’s efforts in educating, training and providing valuable resources to help protect student athletes and others from, and to reduce the number of permanent injuries caused by concussions and other various forms of head trauma.

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune, spotlighting the fall reception, focused on former Chicago Bears safety, Gary Fenick, a Chicago Concussion Coalition advisory board and event committee member, who was quoted as saying, “When I go to (Bears) alumni weekend games, no one is talking about their artificial knees or shoulders. They’re asking, ‘How many concussions did you have? Do you have any symptoms?’[i]” The article talks about Fencik’s children both suffering from concussions in high school and his time on the field with Dave Duerson, whose 2011 suicide may have been triggered by the posthumously discovered, “…chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease brought on by multiple concussions,” as reported by the Tribune article.

Professional athletes who encourage dialogue and discussion about traumatic brain injury help more players, parents and coaches spend time working on concussion prevention and education.

Professional athletes are celebrated heroes in American culture and being a tough player is often seen as an honorable trait. Encouraging tough sports icons to talk about injuries is challenging and organizations such as The Sports Legacy Institute and the Chicago Concussion Coalition increase awareness about injuries, that helps coaches, athletes, and parents engage in dialogue about sports safety because it appears more appropriate and popular to do so. Supporting the PR push for concussion education are sports celebrities who dedicate their time to such an important discussion topic, traumatic brain injury, and several local of those celebrities attended Monday night’s reception.

Members of the Chicago Concussion Coalition/Sports Legacy Institute with Chicago Bulls Bob Love at tonight's reception honoring families of those individuals who have sustained permanent brain injuries and/or who have facilitated the donation of injured brains to the Sports Legacy Institute's Brain Bank.

Members of the Chicago Concussion Coalition/Sports Legacy Institute with Chicago Bulls Bob Love at the 10/07/2013 Fall reception, honoring families of those individuals who have sustained permanent brain injuries and/or who have facilitated the donation of injured brains to the Sports Legacy Institute’s Brain Bank.

“As an active advisory board member and local counsel to the group, it was my pleasure to be involved in this most successful evening. The event was very well attended and featured numerous current and retired professional athletes including retired legends, Chicago Bulls, Bob Love and Chicago Bears, Hunter Hillenmeyer, Charlie Brown, Michael Jennings and others.” Attorney Michael V. Favia.

Monies collected from event participants supports research and education on concussion prevention and treatment.

The proceeds collected from this event support continued education and research necessary to protect athletes, the most vulnerable in our society, with respect to concussions. Net benefits of this event also include increased awareness of the education, research and policy objectives of the Chicago Concussion Coalition and The Sports Legacy Institute, among attendees.

Helping promote the event in advance and increasing awareness, Michael Favia, along with Chicago Concussion Coalition’s Caitlin McElroy, participated in an Internet radio interview in which they talked about the group’s mission, objectives and opportunities to increase awareness, and you can click/tap here to listen to the interview.

Michael V. Favia & Associates represent clients with sports injuries. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a meeting with an attorney at your convenience. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, please visit the firm’s website and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.


[i] Chicago Tribune: Gary Fencik ready to tackle concussion issue. By William Hageman, September 29, 2013.

Interview on Chicago Concussion Coalition and Sports Legacy Institute

Established in 2011, the Chicago Concussion Coalition (CCC) represents a network of 50 national athletic, health and social service organizations united under a common mission  to work in partnership with coalition members to provide student athletes in greater Chicago with the best resources available reto protect them from sports related concussions and recurring injuries.

Established in 2011, the Chicago Concussion Coalition (CCC) represents a network of 50 national athletic, health and social service organizations united under a common mission to work in partnership with coalition members to provide student athletes in greater Chicago with the best resources available reto protect them from sports related concussions and recurring injuries.

Do you know someone who plays contact sports such as football, hockey, soccer or baseball? How about someone who cheers for the team? Maybe you also know a veteran of U.S. military service. Ok, what do you think all these people have in common? They are the focus of traumatic brain injury / concussion research, education and policy change, by the Sports Legacy Institute (“SLI”) and the Chicago Concussion Coalition. Earlier this week Michael V. Favia appeared along with Ms. Caitlin McElroy, Field Associate, for the Sports Legacy Institute in Chicago, to share information about SLI and its mission, activities and various avenues for interested professionals to get involved.

Click/tap here to listen to an on demand broadcast of the interview on Law Talk Radio.

The mission of the Sports Legacy Institute is to advance the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes and other at-risk groups. Highlights of the interview include a further detailed explanation of the SLI’s mission and the foundation of the organization by Christopher Nowinski and Dr. Robert Cantu. They founded SLI as a Boston-based 501(c)(3) in 2007 in response to new research and increased attention to traumatic brain injuries and the need for more research, education and to affect policy change.

Do remember playing sports as a kid, many years ago, and getting hit in the head? Many little league coaches, for example, were known for saying, “Hey, get up and walk it off and take your base.” Then, days later little Tommy’s facial expressions seemed a bit off and droopy and he started mixing up his words. Nowadays, some people think we are overly cautious about concussions. As more research is reported, the scariest thing doctors conclude is that we have only barely scratched the surface in knowing what we are dealing with in terms of cognitive impairment post trauma.

NFL lawsuits brought concussion/traumatic brain injuries to dinner table discussions nationwide.

When several former NFL players filed suit against numerous defendants for permanent injuries due to concussions during games, a few helmet manufacturers responded with efforts at creating high-tech safety helmets, which is a good thing. What people should remember is that helmets can help soften impacts and protect the skull, but the brain is floating in fluid and those impacts can still create grave danger to players.

Many advocacy groups also focus their attention on cheerleading safety and military service members who suffer from traumatic brain injury. Also discussed in the above-linked interview are current trends in concussion research, and how SLI and the Chicago Concussion Coalition are engaging community groups, schools and teams to share vital information. Attorney Michael V. Favia noted that injury attorneys looking for concussion experts should certainly learn more and be in touch with SLI’s Chicago Concussion Coalition to learn more.

The Law Offices of Michael V. Favia advise and represent clients in connection with concussions/traumatic brain injury. To contact the firm to speak to a lawyer you may dial (773) 631-4580. For more information about the firm’s practice areas, you can visit the website, Facebook and Twitter sites.