Many people assume that if their workers’ comp claim recognizes their “head” to be their entire head including what is inside (the brain!). This seems correct, right? WRONG – the head is NOT the same as the brain for the purposes of workers’ compensation in Virginia. A head injury could be a minor scrape on the scalp; while unpleasant this is much different than a brain injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is defined as “a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain” (taken from www.brainline.org.). A blow to the head can also be defined as a “closed head injury”. TBI is generally categorized as mild, moderate or severe and I have represented clients on all ends of this spectrum. A mild TBI can also be classified as a concussion and many times is a minor injury treated with pain medication from your doctor. However moderate and severe brain injuries can truly be a horrible thing. The brain is so multifaceted; and even with all the advances in modern medicine there is a lot that is still unknown about the complexities of the human brain. Brain injuries can be manifested in so many different ways: changes in the person’s diet, changes in sleeping habits or insomnia, difficulty swallowing, hearing loss, emotional responses (like uncontrollable outbursts of anger or depression), impaired concentration or inability to focus, distorted vision, impaired speech, headaches and nausea, just to name a few. Any of these symptoms on a moderate to severe scale can cause devastation in a person’s ability to function in a work environment, in personal relationships and generally makes every facet of everyday life more challenging. Couple this with the possibility of being out of work with no income for an extended period of time and it is a recipe for disaster.
A person who suffered a jolt to the head should be watched closely for any telltale signs that something more may be going on. If there is any possibility you believe you suffered a brain injury, you should seek medical attention right away and if your head injury was the result of a workplace accident, talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure your rights are protected.