In 2108, there were 2.8 million reported nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in the United States. This number includes 77,660 nonfatal head injuries related to a workplace accident or illness. Of those, 16,210 were diagnosed as concussions and another 1,320 involved an unspecified brain injury.
Concussions and other types of brain injuries are all-too-common in the United States workplace. A concussion is a mild form of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that may be caused by a bump, jolt, or blow to the head. They may also occur from a fall or any type of hit to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth.
Although concussions are not usually life-threatening, their symptoms can still be serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading causes of concussions are falls, motor vehicle accidents, unintentionally being struck by or against an object, assaults, and playing sports. This aligns with the top causes of workplace injuries: overexertion; slips, trips and falls; and contact with objects and equipment.
Each year, there are approximately 2.87 million TBIs (including concussions) that result in an emergency department visit, hospitalization, or death. As attorney Michele Lewane learned in an interview with Dr. Nathan Zasler of the Concussion Care Centre of Virginia, getting the right diagnosis is critical to receiving the appropriate treatment — and recovering from your concussion or other brain injuries. If you have suffered a head injury at work, including a concussion, a Richmond workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the treatment and the benefits that you need.
About Dr. Zasler and the Concussion Care Centre of Virginia
Dr. Zasler is the founder of the Concussion Care Centre. As a physiatrist, he focuses on physical medicine and rehabilitation. Over the course of his career, Dr. Zasler has developed an expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of acquired brain injuries.
After a residency and fellowship at the Medical College of Virginia (now known as the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine), Dr. Zasler remained at VCU to work in the field of academic medicine. He then transitioned to private practice, working at Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Clinic before opening the Concussion Care Centre in 1992. He later opened Tree of Life Services, which provides long-term care for people with more catastrophic or severe brain injuries as well as transitional neurorehabilitation, which allows patients to continue to work on their rehabilitation goals after an acute care hospitalization.
What Types of Treatment Does the Concussion Care Centre Offer?
The Concussion Care Centre offers outpatient management of brain injuries, including concussions and more severe brain injuries. The focus is largely on post-concussive care, such as evaluating individuals who have suffered concussions and determining if their symptoms are related to the concussion or another medical issue.
For example, neck injuries like whiplash are often inadequately assessed by medical professionals and may be treated as a concussion. This may lead to improper care, as certain symptoms — such as headaches — may be due to a neck injury rather than a concussion. Through proper diagnosis, a patient can receive the right care and start to recover.
Concussion Care Center of Virginia provides a range of treatments for people who have suffered concussions. Dr. Zasler is certified in pain management and offers this type of treatment along with physical therapy The Centre will refer patients to a specialist if necessary, such as a neuro optometrist or an audiologist, but generally, Dr. Zasler will personally treat patients throughout their course of care. For concussions and other brain injuries, he handles psychiatric pain, rehabilitation, neurological issues, and orthopedic aspects (unless surgery is needed).
Symptoms and Treatment of Concussions
According to Dr. Zasler, concussions can cause a range of symptoms. This may include visual issues, problems with your inner ear (vestibular system), audiological issues (such as tinnitus), headaches, noise and light sensitivity, sleep problems and smell loss. Treatment approaches will depend on the symptoms.
For example, a migraine headache is treated differently than a headache caused by irritation to nerves in the back of the head. In the latter case, external stimulation of the nerves or injection therapies may help to relieve the symptoms. For other types of headaches, such as cerviogenic headaches (related to the neck) may be better treated by physical therapy. Physical therapy may be more appropriate for cervicogenic headaches (related to the cervical spine or neck).
Cognitive problems are also common with concussions and other types of brain injuries. To treat it effectively, a doctor will need to determine the underlying cause. A person may be depressed, suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, or have chronic pain related to their injury. Each of these things can impact cognitive function; a doctor will have to address all of the symptoms that a person is experiencing in order to assist with cognitive issues.
Unfortunately, many of the medical issues related to concussions do not have a standard treatment approach. While there are treatments available, there is not a consensus in the medical community about the best way to manage these symptoms.
How Long Does It Take to Recover From a Concussion?
For most patients, concussion recovery can take as little as days to weeks after a single concussion. Others may have more persistent problems, and recovery may take months, while some people may experience concussion symptoms for a year or longer. This may be related to other aspects of the injury. Importantly, once you have a concussion, you are at greater risk for another one.
Injured at Work? We Can Help
If you have suffered any type of workplace accident, including a concussion or other brain injury, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This type of compensation is key to maintaining financial stability and recovering from your injuries.
At the Injured Workers’ Law Firm, we have more than 50 years of combined experience helping people who have been hurt at work. Based in Richmond, we represent workers across Virginia. Contact us today at (866) 610-0254 or email us to schedule a consultation with a Richmond workers’ compensation attorney.
About the Author: Michele Lewane
The Injured Workers Law Firm is a Richmond, Virginia based firm solely focused on serving clients with workers' compensation claims in Virginia. If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order our book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” , or call our office today (804) 755-7755.