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Most of us have heard the term traumatic brain injury, or its abbreviation TBI, but what exactly is it?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines a TBI as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” In other words, a TBI is an injury at a point in time by an external physical force. It is not a brain condition one is born with or a brain disease that develops over time.
Brain injuries have been in the news over the last few years with the rise in our understanding that concussions are really TBI’s. When I was growing up, if you got your “bell rung” you were told to shake it off. If you were really out of it they’d “cure” you with smelling salts. Even when it comes to Illinois job injuries, it’s only recently that Arbitrators have begun to value concussions as something more than a nuisance claim.
Every brain injury is different of course. I’ve represented people who suffered a blow to the head and while they seem normal, they’ve lost all long term memory and have trouble functioning on a daily basis. Others are able to return to work, but even if they seem to have made a complete recovery, they are at risk of additional problems in the future.
Some additional problems you see are attention span difficulties, problems reasoning, trouble with hearing, sight, balance and other sensations. A TBI can also affect a person’s emotion as well, leading to an inability to work or keep a job, do household tasks, or maintain relationships with family and friends.
When it comes to job related work accidents, we see them a lot with construction workers and other laborers who have objects fall on their heads as well as clients who drive for work and get in to an accident. But the reality is that they can happen to anyone on any job. We’ve seen teachers have doors shut on their head, nurses that fell while trying to catch a patient and mechanics under a car all have concussions.
If you or a loved one has experienced a TBI, the first step is to seek medical attention. Even if the TBI does not seem severe, and the symptoms seem subtle, only a trained medical professional can assess the impact and the necessary course of treatment. Delaying treatment can make the problem way worse and if you are given restrictions not to return to work you should absolutely follow them. Think about a football player going back in to a game too soon. It’s no different for a worker who could be at risk for another injury. Treatment wise, we highly recommend that you get referred to a neurologist if the symptoms are severe or last more than two weeks.
Every case is different from the treatment to the expected outcome. Bottom line when it comes to getting a lawyer though is that if you don’t have an experienced attorney in your corner you are setting yourself up for failure. Insurance companies love to fight these cases because the severity of a concussion or other TBI is mostly diagnosed by subjective statements from the injured worker. Plenty of IME doctors will say you are fine even when you tell them otherwise.
It’s not a fun injury to talk or think about, but we are here to help if you need it. Please get in touch any time if you’d like a consultation.