APIL advanced brain and spinal cord injury conference

Posted by Julia Prior, 17th June 2019
Back in the office today after attending a training conference run by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

As an APIL accredited Senior Litigator I looked forward to attending their advanced brain and spinal cord injury conference. I have 5 cases ongoing at the moment for brain injured clients ranging from a child who was involved in an RTA when she was just a baby, to an elderly gentleman knocked down by a van outside his flat, who is now in residential care as a result.

A very interesting and diverse range of topics was covered over 2 days.

Thursday kicked off with a Neurologist running through recent developments in imaging and the new cans that are available, An interesting comment was made about how the younger Neurosurgeons today are perhaps over reliant on scans, compared to those older surgeons who remember the days when they were just not available. How the outcomes for patients must have improved over the years as a result.

That was followed by a discussion about mild brain injury which may often be overlooked and a reminder of the clinical picture to look at even when there may be no obvious brain injury.

A ‘six pack’ of lawyers talked about topics which had interested them over the last 12 months, including ‘assisted’ capacity where capacity can fluctuate according to the subject matter, Personal Injury Trusts, medical advances in the use of technology in spinal cord injury such as BioTeq implants and MyoPro orthotics, the use of case managers, the increased choice of elective colostomies by spinal injury patients, and the Serious Injury guide which encourages co-operation between lawyers and insurers to try to achieve the best outcome for the client.

The second day started with a rather technical lecture about the discount rate and disability adjustment factors. These are ways in which claims for future losses are calculated so that a claimant who receives a lump sum for a future loss such as earnings, pension or care is properly compensated and will have the right amount of money needed for their future needs lasting for the rest of their life. That was followed later in the day by a further talk on the topic of the discount rate and we understand that the government is likely to set a new rate in August 2019 which will significantly affect those calculations.

A QC then spoke about recent trends for different types of damages in serious injury cases. He covered a wide range of the type of damages including a detailed consideration of claims for future care costs.

A talk by a Neuropsychologist about the brain injured patients in the community was enlightening. He explained that the brain continues to develop into our early 20s, later then you might imagine. Therefore a brain injury occurring even up to that age can have more of a disabling effect because the brain had not yet fully developed. He also provided interesting statistics showing that the vast majority of offenders in prison had suffered a head injury earlier in their life. He also talked about sports injuries including brain injuries to boxers and footballers (from heading the ball) and the research that has been undertaken into the long term effects of that type of injury.

An accident reconstruction expert illustrated how new technology can assist in reconstructing accidents using 3D images, dash cams and trackers, which can give a completely different perception as to what actually happened.

A nurse practitioner gave us a very graphic account of bowel management in spinal injury patients – a topic which it was clear that we all find very difficult to talk about, but is essential to understand when considering the needs of the patient. And one of the reasons why patients are increasingly electing for a colostomy.

A final discussion about settlement meetings, tactics and preparation, to end the conference. Overall a highly informative and interesting two days, with plenty to take away and absorb.

It was also a great opportunity to talk to other lawyers and experts all working together to get the best result for our catastrophically injured clients.