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A Head Injury on the Job
When you get a head injury at work, no matter how minor, you must report it to your employer. What may look a simple cut or small bout of dizziness can lead to bigger issues later. A head injury is an injury to the scalp, skull and head. You should always seek medical treatment as soon as possible. But, to truly understand what a head injury is, let’s break it down. There are two classifications of brain injuries:
- Focal: A visible injury in one location as a result from a direct force/impact. This injury will have open wounds or a penetration of the skull. The injuries include bleeding in the brain (e.g. subdural hematoma) and a bruising of the brain (e.g. cerebral contusion).
- Diffuse: A non-visible injury in multiple locations as a result from the head being rocked (as in a car accident). These injuries include damage to blood vessels, swelling of the brain and widespread damage to the white matter. It can lead to coma or death.
Types of Brain Injuries
- Concussion: This injury is caused by a direct force to the head, such as being hit in the head with an object or a fall. The person experiences dizziness and confusion, aside from other visible injuries such as penetration of the skull or a bruise.
- Skull Fracture: This injury can lead to other diffuse injuries and different types of skull fractures. This injury can happen from a fall or a hit to the head by a blunt object. Symptoms include bleeding from the nose and ears, swelling near the impact and facial bruising.
- Internal Bleeding (hematomas): This is connected to diffuse injuries and traumatic brain injuries. It is caused by damage to the blood vessel wall. There are different types of hematomas and the treatments vary from rest to surgery.
- Bruising of the Brain (cerebral contusion): When the head gets hit hard enough it can bruise, just like getting a bruise on any body part.
A head injury can also be a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Not all signs and symptoms of a TBI develop at the same time, so it is difficult to prove the injury was work related. For example, a construction worker injures his head in a trench collapse. He didn’t lose consciousness but later feels dizzy and nauseous.
It is vital that the claimant seek a workers’ compensation attorney who can get expert witnesses to provide indisputable evidence pertinent to your claim. When seeking medical treatment, the physician will perform a CT scan and an MRI. These tests will help determine the damage to the brain, skull, blood vessels, etc. If the physician does not order them, you or a family member should demand them. Unlike a broken bone or tendonitis, a head injury can require months of recovery, putting an emotional and financial strain on you and your family.
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