Brain Injuries and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) in Louisiana Workers Compensation
Unfortunately, brain injuries occur fairly frequently in Louisiana workers compensation claims, especially in automobile accidents and work-place falls.
Though many of these brain injuries can be minor concussion-type injuries, some brain injuries are often debilitating. Brain injuries can occur in people of all ages and sizes.
Traumatic brain injuries – otherwise know as TBIs – are injuries to the brain caused by an external force. TBIs occur when an employee’s head is suddenly jolted or struck and can result in serious brain damage.
Sadly, these traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can have lifelong effects that require lifelong monitoring and treatment.
Nonetheless, brain injuries and TBIs can be sustained without being diagnosed. The injury may not even show up on an MRI, and the only real way to diagnose it is to monitor the employee and look for warning signs.
Symptoms of brain injuries and TBIs may become apparent immediately or may develop over a period of days or weeks. Often, the worst effects do not arrive until much later after the accident.
SYMPTOMS OF TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES
Symptoms of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Abnormal eye movements
- Balance or coordination problems
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Convulsions or seizures
- Depression or anxiousness
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Headaches that get worse or do not go away
- Inability to sleep
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Loss of consciousness
- Memory loss
- Mood changes or mood swings
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Ringing in the ears
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Slurred speech
- Spinning Sensations
- Weakness or numbness in the arms and legs
TYPES OF TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are either defined as open or closed. Open traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are also referred to as penetrating brain injuries.
An open (penetrating) head injury is one in which something breaks the scalp and skull and enters the brain. Thus, the skull becomes fractured or penetrated, and bits of bone, debris, or shrapnel can become embedded in the brain tissue, causing further damage.
A closed brain injury is any injury that doesn’t break the skull. Unfortunately, closed brain injuries can be much more deadly, since the brain absorbs most of the impact due to the fact that the skull is not fractured. These brain injuries can easily result in bruising and tearing of brain tissue and blood vessels.
Also, closed brain injuries put the employee at a much higher risk for swelling and bleeding on the brain, which can result in blood clots, coma, and death.
THE SEVERITY OF TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are evaluated by doctors based on the severity of the damage and symptoms the injured worker displays.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are evaluated by severity as:
- Moderate; or
This classification of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) is based on what’s known as the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), which is a testing scale that assesses motor, verbal, and eye-opening responses.
The Glasgow Coma Scale runs from 3 to 15, where 3 is assigned to someone who is dead or comatose, and 15 is normal. Someone with a mild traumatic brain injury generally has a GCS of 13–15.
Typically, the severity of a traumatic brain injury is based on:
- The results of a positive computed tomography scan (CT scan or CAT scan) showing brain bleeding, bruising, or swelling;
- The length of the loss or alteration of consciousness;
- The length of memory loss; and
- The level of responsiveness of an injured individual following the injury.
Mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs) are also known as concussions, and typically are more challenging to identify than severe TBIs, because there may not be observable head injury, even on a CT scan.
Often, symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs) are similar to symptoms from problems that occur following combat trauma, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Moderate or severe traumatic brain injuries can disable an individual for life or could resolve eventually without any permanent side effects.
But if a traumatic brain injury is diagnosed as severe, it is likely that the injured individual will experience long term side effects, including the possibility of diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
NECK AND BACK INJURIES IN LOUISIANA WORKERS COMPENSATION
Neck and back injuries are very common work-place injuries in Louisiana.
These injuries will often limit an injured worker’s ability to lift, twist, carry, or even sit or stand without extreme pain. For this reason, neck and back injuries frequently prevent injured employees from being able to perform their job.
If an employee even thinks that he or she has injured his or her neck or back, the injured employee should immediately report the injury to the employee or supervisor and should seek immediate medical attention.
SYMPTOMS OF NECK AND BACK INJURIES
Symptoms of a neck or back injury include, but are not limited to:
- Difficulty breathing or coughing
- Difficulty walking, bending, twisting, or standing straight
- Difficulty with balance
- Extreme back pain or pressure
- Impaired breathing
- Incoordination in any part of the body
- Involuntary muscle contractions
- Limited range of motion
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Loss of movement
- Loss of sensation in hands, fingers, feet or toes
- Loss of sexual function
- Muscle cramping
- Muscle spasms
- Numbness in hands, fingers, feet or toes
- Pain or discomfort that increases with movement
- Pain or discomfort without movement
- Paralysis in any part of the body
- Stinging sensations
- Tingling in hands, fingers, feet or toes
- Weakness in any part of the body
However, neck and back injuries can be elusive, and often go undetected.
In fact, in many cases, these injuries don’t appear until days or weeks after the accident. This is often because following an accident, the body releases adrenaline and endorphins which can limit a person’s ability to detect pain after an injury.
TYPES OF NECK AND BACK INJURIES
Types of neck and back injuries include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Cervical dislocations
- Chronic pain
- Herniated discs
- Nerve impingement
- Soft tissue injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Stingers and burners
However, injuries to the neck and back often do not occur in isolation. That is, if one part of the neck or back is injured, typically, another part of the neck or back can likely be injured as well.
This is because all the parts of the neck and back are connected. Bones, joints, tendons, muscles, ligaments, cartilage, soft tissue, and nerves in the neck and spine all work together. For example, whiplash may result in a muscle strain, ligament sprain, and a disc injury.
Fortunately, neck injuries mainly affect soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, etc.). However, other injuries involving the bones, joints, and discs will, unfortunately, also affect this soft tissue to some extent.
TREATMENT FOR NECK AND BACK INJURIES
As noted above, if an employee even thinks that he or she has injured his or her neck or back, the injured employee should immediately report the injury to the employee or supervisor and should seek immediate medical attention at the first sign of symptoms. In fact, neglecting a back injury can result in worse or prolonged pain and suffering.
Sometimes, a medical evaluation may just include a patient’s medical history and symptoms in order to make a diagnosis.
However, it is usually in the injured worker’s best interest to have specific specialized tests performed, including X-rays and an MRI, in order to provide a completely accurate diagnosis. This is because problems involving herniated and dislodged disks, nerve impingement, or any spinal cord injury are often extremely challenging to diagnose.
X-rays and MRIs are especially helpful in diagnosing more serious back injuries, such as a herniated disk or a spinal cord injury.
In addition to providing a proper medical diagnosis, which will be used to develop the best treatment plan for the injured employee, a medical visit should provide proper, complete, and accurate documentation, which will assist the employee with his or her workers compensation claim.
For these reasons, it is absolutely critical that an injured worker choose the right doctor. The best way to select the right doctor is to take the advice of a qualified Louisiana workers compensation attorney on selecting the doctor that is best both for the medical side of things, and the legal/claim side of things.
Remember, this same physician will be the deciding individual when it comes to whether the employee is injured, to what degree the employee is injured, and whether the employee can return to work. So again, it is extremely important for the injured worker to select the correct doctor for his or her treatment and workers compensation claim.
Nonetheless, some neck and back injuries can be treated effectively with a few doctor visits, medication, and possibly physical therapy or rehabilitation. However, other neck and back injuries ultimately require neck or back surgery, and some cause permanent disability.
SHOULDER, HIP AND KNEE INJURIES IN LOUISIANA WORKERS COMPENSATION
Injuries to the shoulders, hips, and knees occur very frequently in Louisiana workers compensation claims, especially with workers who lift and carry materials, drive and operate equipment, and perform other strenuous physical activities.
Types of shoulder, hip, and knee injuries include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Fractures or breaks of bones
- Torn knee ligaments (ACL or MCL)
- Torn meniscus
- Torn rotator cuffs
Also, workers compensation insurance companies very often claim that injuries to the shoulders, hips, and knees are pre-existing conditions.
However, pre-existing conditions or disease or infirmity of an employee do not prevent a workers compensation claim if the work-related injury aggravated, accelerated, or combined with the disease or infirmity to produce the disability for which compensation is claimed.
When an employee proves that before the accident he or she had not shown any disabling symptoms, but that beginning with the accident the disabling symptoms appeared, and there is either medical or circumstantial evidence indicating a reasonable possibility of a causal connection between the accident and the disabling condition, then the employee’s work injury is presumed to have been aggravated, accelerated, or combined with his or her pre-existing disease or infirmity to produce the disability.
So again, it does not matter for an employee’s workers compensation claim whether he or she had a pre-existing condition, so long as the accident aggravated the condition.
And also, in workers compensation cases, a disability is presumed to be the result of a work-related accident if, before the accident, the injured person was in good health, but beginning with the accident, the symptoms of the disability appear and continue.