When a worker suffers a
brain injury, immediate evaluation and treatment is essential. It is also critical
to document all permanent effects of such injuries to assure appropriate
The forces set in motion when a worker suffers a
post traumatic brain injury can injure the brain in at least several ways. Since brain matter is less
dense than the skull, the force of the trauma sets the brain in motion
inside the skull, causing it to strike, or even rotate, in the interior
of the skull cavity. In severe cases, the brain may even suffer physical
damage due to the rough surfaces in the brain cavity, particularly in
the frontal lobe region.
Crush injuries may not create the same physical forces on the brain, but
can also result in permanent brain damage.
While many experience similar symptoms after a brain injury, in reality,
each individual responds to, and recovers from, such an injury in a highly
unique way. Cognitive, emotional and behavioral effects of injury must
be carefully documented and quantified by qualified physicians. In severe
cases, vocational experts can be used to document a workers lost wages
and lost earnings capacity.
California Workers’ Compensation system, the AMA Guides 5th Edition provide methods to assess permanent brain damage.
For example, Chapter 14 of the Guides provides methods by which to document
the severity of the brain disorder in establishing an accurate impairment
ratings. Factors such as the injury’s impact on Activities of Daily
Living (ADL), social functioning, cognitive functioning and work functions
can all be considered in the context of brain dysfunction.
The Chapter also directs the evaluating physician to consider other sources
of information such as interviews with family members, and to “document
adequate descriptions of impairments and functional limitations from the
reports of professional sources, such as psychiatrists, psychologists,
psychiatric nurses, psychiatric social workers, and health professionals
in hospitals and clinics.” (p. 359)
Finally, Chapter 14, instructs the physician toconsider the individual’s
ability to conduct activities of daily living including work. For example,
the physician is directed that “results of work evaluations and
rehabilitation programs, as well as information from day programs, are
also useful in assessing level of functioning.” (p. 358)
Tom Martin has been helping workers after a brain injury secure workers
compensation benefits for over 25 years. If you, or someone you care about,
has suffered a brain injury, please
contact us right away for a free consultation at (714) 594-5389.