When we seek the advice of a medical professional, we do so to find answers. Parents need to know whether their child’s cold needs to be treated or simply requires rest. Patients care whether their injured joints are broken or simply overused and strained. Everyone benefits from the knowledge that an illness is not contagious to those around the patient. Whatever the ailment there is an expectation that a healthcare professional can and will explain it to you correctly and educate you on the best chances of recovery. This assumption all starts with one simple understanding: the belief that the doctor can correctly identify and diagnose the ailment. Unfortunately, this most basic step on the route to recovery is often more complicated than one might imagine. Many ailments are not easily observed and doctors make decisions based on the patient’s symptoms and their own experiences. When the symptoms explained by the patient could lead to many conclusions the doctor still must make a diagnosis. Making the correct diagnosis often means the difference between recovery and relapse.
A Simple Sports Injury
In the world of athletes, concussions are a very common injury. By their nature, sports involve physical contact and that alone places a person’s head in harm’s way. Back in 2012 a high school freshman named Stephen from Virginia was playing a game of lacrosse. Although he was wearing a helmet when he hit his head against a goalie, he noticed he was dizzy at the end of the game. The following morning he woke with an excruciating headache and was later diagnosed with a concussion. Despite discontinuing sports and resting, he made no progress and he recalled being unable to walk without holding onto walls due to dizziness. It was not until a fortunate dinner encounter a year after the injury that his parents would hear a proper diagnoses of their son’s condition. A neurologist named Dennis Fitzgerald, an avid researcher into the persistence of dizziness after head trauma, explained the concept of perilymph fistula to Stephen’s parents.
Although medical professionals are quick to diagnose head injuries as “concussions” that does not always mean it is the correct answer. Concussions occur when the brain hits the inside of the head. They are the most commonly diagnosed brain injuries. Symptoms range from nausea to dizziness to headaches and in some cases seizures. There is no specific treatment to heal a concussion. A perilymph fistula occurs in the same manner as a concussion and leaves the injured party with almost identical symptoms. The actual injury is quite different and is easily curable. The symptoms result from a tear in the membranes that separate the inner ear from the middle ear. The inner ear contains a fluid called perilymph. When even a small drop of perilymph leaks from the inner ear, the person will experience concussion-like symptoms that can be healed through surgery. With some exceptions, concussion symptoms generally go away on their own; however, this is not the case with perilymph fistula. As stated by sports medicine physician J. Herbert Stevenson of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, “Are there milder cases of perilymph fistula that we’re just not recognizing and labeling as post-concussion syndrome? … I don’t think anybody knows.”
If you or someone you love has suffered from a misdiagnosis you may be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries. Contact attorney Peter Ventura today for a free consultation toll free at 508-755-7535 or contact us online.