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Brain Injury Attorney Shana De Caro Elected Chairwoman Brain Injury Association of America

Shana De Caro, a partner in the New York personal injury law firm, De Caro & Kaplen, LLP, has been elected as chairwoman of the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) for 2021.

De Caro has advocated on behalf of individuals and their families following a traumatic or acquired brain injury for over 35 years, and is respected nationally for her knowledge, passion, and drive to protect the rights of those who have sustained brain damage. She has previously served as vice chair, secretary, and board of directors’ member of the Brain Injury Association of America.

In accepting her new position, De Caro said, “I am excited and humbled to accept this new role on behalf of the over 5.2 million Americans living with disability caused by brain trauma.”

Founded in 1980, the Brain Injury Association of America is the oldest, largest, and only nationwide brain injury advocacy organization in the United States. As the voice of brain injury, BIAA provides help, hope, and healing for the millions of Americans who sustain this life-altering injury.

Shana De Caro, a graduate of the Benjamin Cardozo Law School, has devoted her professional career to representing survivors of brain trauma and other personal injury caused by negligence and medical malpractice. Her professional activities include being elected as the first female chair of the Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association for Justice; president of the Top 25 Brain Injury Attorney Group of the National Trial Lawyer Association; member of the Board of Directors, New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers. She has lectured to brain injury advocacy groups on effectively representing survivors of brain trauma, and is a contributing author on legal aspects of brain injury to the New York Law Journal, Neuro Clinics of North America, and other medical and legal publications.

De Caro further stated, “I am honored our board of directors has elected me to this position of responsibility and trust” and expressed her desire to continue the Brain Injury Association of America’s mission to improve the lives of brain injury survivors, “I will continue to collaborate with the association’s incredible staff and board to build a better world for persons with a brain injury and their families, to further BIAA’s mission to advance awareness, research, treatment, and education, and to improve the quality of life for all people affected by brain injury.”

De Caro & Kaplen, LLP is a New York based personal injury law firm nationally recognized for its expertise in brain injury litigation. Shana De Caro is the lead author of the Amicus Curiae brief submitted to both the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the Brain Injury Association of America, which contested the NFL concussion settlement as not being in the best interests of all players who sustained brain trauma while playing professional football.

De Caro & Kaplen LLP Announce 2020 Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship Winner

The Brain Injury Law Firm®, De Caro & Kaplen, LLP are proud to have presented the fourth annual Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship to Hannah Mead. Mead (pictured below) is a student pursuing a degree in Marine Biology at the Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina.

hannah mead

This scholarship was introduced during Brain Injury Awareness Month, for those who sustained a traumatic brain injury and are pursuing a higher education. In announcing the winner, De Caro & Kaplen, LLP partners Shana De Caro and Michael V. Kaplen said, “We continue to be impressed by the number of outstanding applications we received. It is inspirational to see how many people have sustained significant injuries, and continue to struggle and overcome incredible obstacles in order to achieve their dreams.”

Shana De Caro, Vice Chair of The Brain Injury Association of America and past chair of the American Association for Justice, Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, commented, “Our winner, Hannah Mead, has shown incredible determination and tenacity over many years learning to adapt to life after a brain injury, compensate for her injuries, and pursue her goals.”

De Caro continued, “Hannah sustained a significant brain injury when she was just 5 years old and a passenger in a vehicle that was struck from behind. Since that injury at an early age she has struggled with rehabilitation and has had to learn compensatory skills in order to work through school, including her time at a community college. Now at Coastal Carolina University, she is continuing to succeed in pursuing her dream of becoming a marine biologist. With many setbacks in this endeavor, she continues to maintain a positive outlook and strives to complete her degree. Hannah does not let anything get in her way and appropriately seeks accommodations and assistance. Her amazing attitude, perseverance, and incredibly hard work is what will make all the difference for her.”

Michael V. Kaplen, a three-term president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State, and professorial lecturer at law, teaching a course in brain injury law at the George Washington University Law School said, “Hannah, is a remarkable person, she appreciates the assistance of those who helped with rehabilitation, such as Brain Injury Services of Virginia, where she spent her childhood, and helped her find a way forward. Hannah realized she could help others who have sustained similar injuries, and give back by speaking publicly at conferences about her experiences. Her positive attitude is amazing, considering the long struggles she has had and continues to have, maintaining that every experience, including sustaining a traumatic brain injury, makes you stronger and wiser.”

The Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship is an annual award for students who have sustained a traumatic brain injury. Applications for the next fund, to be distributed in late Summer 2021, will open in early 2021.

De Caro & Kaplen LLP Announce 2019 Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship Winner

California art student Luis Fierro Rios, who sustained a serious brain injury in 2016, is announced as the latest recipient of New York brain injury attorneys De Caro & Kaplen, LLP’s Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship award.

Shana De Caro & Michael V. Kaplen with 2019 Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship winner Luis Fierro Rios
Shana De Caro & Michael V. Kaplen with 2019 Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship winner Luis Fierro Rios

In 2016, 26 year old art student, and aspiring teacher, Luis Fierro Rios’ life changed forever.

Fierro Rios was in his first semester of the M.F.A- Master of Fine Art program at California State University of Fullerton when he was struck by a van during a class outing. Fierro Rios recalls, “As part of an outdoor painting class, we were visiting a hiking mountain to learn and paint the scenery. When I returned to the car, I crossed the road and I was struck by a van going at speeds of about 40 mph.”

Fierro Rios was rushed to Los Angeles County USC Medical Center by helicopter, where a left hemicraniectomy was performed — a surgical procedure where a large flap of the skull is removed to reduce intracranial pressure on a swollen brain.

Fierro Rios’ physical and psychological health have been permanently affected, “I sustained severe trauma to my head and my skull fractured in the impact. This surgery had to be done to treat the swelling of my brain, but it also left my brain unprotected with my scalp as the only shield. I was in a coma for about two and a half weeks, and when I woke up, I was a different man. Over time there was no recovery but instead a decline in both physical and psychological health.”

Indeed, Fierro Rios’ injuries were so serious that doctors feared he would never walk again, “My right side of my body was paralyzing. I was also in a wheelchair and my family was told I was never going to walk again.”

But Fierro Rios was determined to prove the doctors wrong. Nine months after the accident, another operation was performed, followed by two months of therapy as an in-patient. “A team of physical, speech and the occupational therapist did everything possible for me to improve as much as possible along with my determination to be normal again. I felt like an infant which had to relearn mostly everything.”

During his time at the hospital Fierro Rios rediscovered his passion for art and determined to resume his education, “Occupational therapy began to introduce art and it sparked memories, thoughts, and ambitions to be an artist and use my skills to teach others once again.”

Enrollment in a community college helped prepare Fierro Rios for University, but he also realized he would have to overcome the difficulties in social interactions to achieve his goals, “This experience taught me what I needed to improve including higher levels of thinking and even social interaction. Before the accident, I wanted to be a college professor but now after exploring more options, I decided to teach students at a high school level.”

To help with his social skills, he began a part-time teaching job in an afterschool children’s art program, before enrolling in the single subject ‘Teaching Credential in Art’ at California State University of Long Beach, “ I went above my disability and obtained a part-time job teaching in an afterschool children’s art program. Then I began University. The feeling of starting the single subject teaching credential in art was exhilarating.”

In September 2019, Fierro Rios’ dedication to overcoming his disability was recognized by New York brain injury lawyers, De Caro & Kaplen, LLP, when he was selected as the recipient of their annual Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship award.

In presenting the award — a check for $1,000 to assist with education and living costs — De Caro & Kaplen, partners Shana De Caro and Michael V. Kaplen said, “It is always difficult to select the winner of our award. Each applicant has a unique, and deeply moving story of his or her experience with brain injury. But something every applicant has in common is the determination to continue to pursue his or her dreams. We were impressed by Mr. Fierro Rios’ drive to resume his education, but also his bravery in continuing to pursue a career in teaching. Social interactions can be difficult after brain injury, so it would have been easy for Mr Fierro Rios to choose a less interactive career. But Mr Fierro Rios has refused to let his injury control his future, and we hope that our scholarship will help him achieve his goals.”

Now 29, Luis Fierro Rios believes he has ‘surpassed the odds’ and encourages other individuals with a disability not to give up on their dreams, “It is important for our life to have a purpose and [in teaching] I have found mine. Without them, we have no future to look forward to. I encourage everyone I meet including kids and individuals with a disability to unlock their full potential of the brain and to never give up on their dreams. The brain is capable of so much including healing. Many individuals didn’t believe I would get better but I surpassed the odds by transcending from my disability.”

The Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship award is presented by New York brain injury lawyers De Caro & Kaplen, LLP and is open to students in the USA who have sustained a traumatic brain injury. Applications for next years award will open in March 2020.

De Caro & Kaplen LLP Announce 2018 Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship Winner

New York brain injury attorneys, De Caro & Kaplen, LLP are proud to have presented the annual De Caro & Kaplen, LLP Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship on October 1, 2018 to Tiffany Oliverio, in the sum of $1,000. Tiffany is a student pursuing a degree in Pre-Occupational and Occupational Therapy at Baker College in Flint, Michigan.

This scholarship opportunity was first introduced in 2017 during Brain Injury Awareness Month, to those who sustained a traumatic brain injury and are pursuing a higher education. In announcing this year’s recipient, De Caro & Kaplen, partners Shana De Caro and Michael V. Kaplen said, “We were deeply moved by the number of outstanding applications we received and want to recognize all the many people who have sustained significant injuries, and through perseverance and arduous work have found a way to follow their dreams. It is truly inspirational.”

“Our winner, Tiffany Oliverio, has shown incredible determination and tenacity in learning to adapt to life after a brain injury, and to continue to pursue her goals. She has resolved to make a difference in the lives of other victims of brain injury by pursuing a career in Occupational Therapy, to work with other young adults who have sustained similar injuries,” commented Shana De Caro, who also serves as an officer and member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of America and past chair of the American Association for Justice, Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group.

In October 2016, Oliverio, now 28, was involved in a single vehicle accident while travelling southbound on the U.S. 23 in Fenton, Michigan. According to Fenton Fire Chief Bob Cairnduff, she was found pinned in the vehicle, with two sets of hydraulic tools needed to free her from the wreckage.

Oliverio spent almost two weeks in a coma, and in a 2016 interview told Tri-County Times that the survival rate for her type of brain injury is just .1 percent. She also stated she had to relearn everything, from feeding herself, to getting dressed and taking a shower.

Shana continued, “Tiffany sustained a life-altering brain injury in 2016, just three weeks into her freshman year of college, when she was involved in a significant automobile crash. After awakening from a coma, she devoted herself to her physical and cognitive rehabilitation. Her incredible drive and efforts allowed her return to school in 2017. Tiffany spent that year away from school working on her recovery and maintained a positive attitude. Tiffany hopes to be an inspiration to others, demonstrating that hard work and perseverance will help them achieve their goals.”

Michael V. Kaplen, a three-term president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State, and professorial lecturer teaching a course in brain injury law at the George Washington University Law School said, “Tiffany, is a very determined person. She learned from her own extraordinary experiences that with accommodations and hard work she can return to school, where she intends to continue her studies to obtain a Masters in Occupational Therapy. Tiffany joined the Michigan Brain Injury Association to advocate for others experiencing the same difficulties. This has reinforced her continued efforts and pursue her dream working with survivors, as an occupational therapist, to help those who have sustained a brain injury, just as she did.”

On accepting the award, Oliverio said: “Life can be hard, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. I want other people with brain injury to know what happened to me.”

The Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship is an annual award for students who have sustained a traumatic brain injury. Applications for the next fund, to be distributed in late Summer 2019, are now being accepted.

How does trauma change the brain?

How does trauma change the brain?

How does trauma change the brain?

The brain is a soft, jello-like substance that's contained within the skull and it can easily be damaged. It is made up of nerve fibers, which have axons, which are the long thread like portion that acts like a telephone wire and communicates signals and messages. It is covered by an insulation that's known as the myelin sheath. The space between nerve cells is the synapse. When there is an injury to the brain, this whole system is disrupted and the brain is not able to communicate the messages effectively.

A good way to demonstrate what happens to the brain is using Silly Putty. A strong force causes it to stretch and break, and this is what happens to the nerve cells within the brain causing damage. These injuries have many effects. They have physical, cognitive, behavioral and emotional effects. It is essential for a brain injury attorney to understand the brain itself and the mechanism of injury and how the negligence of the defendants cause this injury and what the repercussions are to the person and their ability to function in life.

Please call the brain injury attorneys at De Caro & Kaplen for a free, no-obligation consultation. We are committed to achieving justice and full compensation for our clients.

Brain Injury Attorney Shana De Caro Elected Chairwoman Brain Injury Association of America
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