When someone describes a traumatic brain injury (TBI), most people think of athletes such as those in the NFL or baseball players like Justin Morneau. Thankfully, gone are the days when concussions were seen as minor annoyances and kudos were given to athletes who immediately got back in the game.
Unfortunately, much of the media focus on TBIs has been centered on athletes instead of the many everyday people who suffer from this type of injury. A recent study by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that the construction industry has the highest number of traumatic brain injuries in United States workplaces.
A TBI is caused by a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Common symptoms of a TBI include but are not limited to chronic fatigue, difficulties recalling words, change in personality, memory problems, difficulties concentrating or being attentive, and headaches.
The following is some basic information to give our clients in the construction industry a better idea of what TBIs are and to debunk some common misconceptions.
1. The full extent of a TBI may not be known until the person attempts to return to normal, everyday activities. If a person is recovering from multiple injuries, difficulties from a TBI may not be clear during the initial recovery time. It is often the people who are closest to the injured person who recognize the signs of a TBI.
2. A person does not have to lose consciousness in order to suffer a TBI. One study found that 35% of people with a TBI did not lose consciousness.
3. A person does not have to have suffered a blow to the head in order to sustain a TBI. Medical researchers have found that a rapid acceleration or deceleration of the head, which forces the brain to move back and forth in the skull, can also cause a TBI. These rapid movements can pull apart nerve fibers and damage brain tissue.
4. A description of a "mild" or "minor" brain injury should not minimize the significance of a TBI. What physicians describe as a "mild TBI" can still be a permanent injury resulting in headaches, loss of balance, fatigue, and visual disturbances on a daily basis. These chronic symptoms can have a significant impact on a person's home and work life.
4. Unlike a broken leg on an x-ray, TBIs are often not diagnosed using traditional medical testing. A person may have a TBI even if medical diagnostic tests, such as an MRI or CT scan, are read as being normal.
At Hellmuth & Johnson, PLLC, we represent many people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a personal injury or medical malpractice. We work closely with the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota to ensure our clients have access to services need to treat and live with a brain injury.