Traumatic brain injuries are very common in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1.7 million people suffer this type of injury each year. A traumatic brain injury is one that occurs when a person bumps their head, suffers a blow, experiences a jolt or sustains an injury that penetrates their head, resulting in a disruption of the brain’s normal function.
While many people think of traumatic brain injuries as primarily sports-related, these types of injuries are also common in workplaces. Employees in nearly all types of professional fields could potentially sustain a head injury in a workplace accident, such as a slip, fall, auto accident or unintended contact with work-related equipment.
Potential long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries
The immediate symptoms and issues associated with a brain injury, including dizziness, headaches and nausea, often subside over time, allowing employees to gradually return to work. In other cases, however, there can be long-term effects, which a person may suffer from for the rest of their life. Some of the conditions that may occur as a result of a TBI include:
- Problems with cognitive processes, such as thinking, reasoning and memory
- Behavioral and personality changes, emotional issues or psychiatric problems
- Language and communication issues
- Physical problems, such as vertigo, hearing loss and impaired motor skills
- Development of other medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and post-traumatic dementia
Depending on the severity of the injury, some long-term effects may prevent a person from returning to their prior position of employment, or from returning to work at all.
Challenges resulting from long-term TBI effects
There are a number of challenges victims and their families may face due to the long-term effects that can result from traumatic brain injuries. In addition to ongoing medical care, a person may also require extensive therapy, including speech, physical or occupational. For workers who were able to return to work, this ongoing treatment often requires time off of work, which may result in lost wages. Cases where a TBI causes an employee to have to change their job, or inhibits them from working completely can result in lost wages or significant income changes. Often times, this can put an undue financial strain on both victims, and their families. Lifestyle changes, or modifications to victims’ homes in order to cope with their conditions, may also be necessary.
Even when a bump or blow seems minor, a traumatic brain injury can still occur. In order for employees who suffer this type of injury to ensure that their immediate medical needs, as well as any ongoing medical care, is covered by workers’ compensation, it is important to report any head injury that occurs in the workplace and to meet with an experienced attorney.