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 compensation.
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.
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.