Returning to Work After Suffering From a Workplace Traumatic Brain Injury

Workers who have obtained a traumatic brain injury from an accident that occurred on-the-job may have difficulties returning to work.

Workers in Illinois and across the country run the risk of becoming injured while on the job. Although some industries are more hazardous than others, a simple slip-and-fall, trip or falling object can have serious consequences. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 3 million Americans were victims of workplace injuries in 2013. A number of these incidents involved workers who suffered from traumatic brain injuries due to accidents at work. Traumatic brain injuries can range from a mild concussion to more severe brain damage. However, all brain injuries can cause irreversible cognitive damage that may affect people for the rest of their lives. Once a person has been diagnosed with TBI, it may be difficult to return to the workplace and get a grasp on life.

The Facts

Research published by the National Institutes of Health reported that 22 percent of all workplace injury fatalities were caused by traumatic brain injuries, and that 46 percent of these deaths stemmed from falls. Those who do survive the aftermath of TBI may have to face extensive rehabilitation, long-term disabilities, lost wages from missing work and decreased productivity. It is hard to calculate the exact number of people who suffer from work-related TBIs as some people go undiagnosed. In some cases, people may not know that they have a brain injury for several days after the accident occurs.

A Chicago woman who slipped and fell on ice as she was traveling for a company exposition, hit her head on the sidewalk, according to WBEZ News. Although she asserted that she was fine from the fall, the woman uncharacteristically missed appointments, had trouble concentrating at work, forgot crucial details and was plagued by headaches. Her employer was on the verge of demoting the woman when she finally decided to see a physician weeks after the accident occurred. The doctor found a damaged area of the brain that had bled, and diagnosed her with a traumatic brain injury.

Getting Back to Work

Traumatic brain injuries can affect people in different ways, depending on what part of the brain is damaged and the severity of the condition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that TBI can cause:

  • Loss of memory or complete loss of consciousness
  • Sensory deficiencies, such as trouble speaking or understanding language, visual and auditory difficulties, loss of balance and muscle weakness
  • Changes in mental processing, including disorientation, confusion, trouble concentrating, slowed thinking and difficulties making decisions
  • Persistent headaches, nausea and vomiting

All of the effects of TBI can make it challenging for people to succeed at work, and reports indicate that some employers are not accommodating to workers suffering from TBI.

Workers' Compensation

Workers' compensation is designed to provide short-term and long-term financial assistance to employees who become injured on-the-job. It is important to report your workplace accident as soon as possible, even if you don't feel as though you have been injured. An attorney in Illinois may be helpful in answering any questions you have regarding workplace accidents and injuries.