Study: Returning to work following a brain injury

People who suffer from workplace traumatic brain injuries may have difficulties returning to work with their disabilities.

Traumatic brain injury is one of the most common workplace injuries in California and across the United States. Brain trauma is a costly burden to employers who must cover the expenses of occupational injuries, including rehabilitation, long-term care, lost productivity and lost wages. Furthermore, people who receive a brain injury while on-the-job, may not fully recover from their injuries and in some cases, may not be able to return to work following their recovery.

A look at the research

In one study, researchers evaluated information taken from the Colorado registry of TBI patients. According to Brainline.org, the study showed that one-year after the injury, approximately half of workers were unable to go back to their job. Nearly 20 percent of people suffering with mild traumatic brain injuries had not returned to work after the one-year mark.

Research published by the National Institutes of Health reviewed a number of studies conducted on the rate at which people with TBI returned to work. Researchers found that one year after the injury, only 40.7 percent of employees were able to go back to their job, while 40.8 percent of employees returned to work after being away for two years.

The effects of brain trauma

People who suffer from brain trauma may experience on-going physical, psychological and physiological effects from their injuries. According to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, traumatic brain injury patients may experience the following symptoms:

  • Headaches, confusion and trouble concentrating
  • Continued fatigue, trouble sleeping
  • Trouble remembering, organizing and completing tasks
  • Sensory difficulties, such as visual and auditory problems
  • Tingling and weakness in the muscles and/or in the extremities

In some cases, these effects may hinder a person's ability to engage in and complete his or her job. For example, a person suffering from cognitive problems may be unable to stay focused on a project or organize the tasks that must be completed.

Accommodations at the workplace

In an attempt to help workers transition back into the workforce, some employers have implemented programs to accommodate workers who suffer from traumatic brain injuries. This may include modifying workers' office spaces or installing equipment that makes it easier for injured employees to do their jobs.

Obtaining legal advice

If you have a traumatic brain injury that you obtained from a workplace accident, you may have questions regarding your legal rights and workers' compensation. A California attorney may be able to help you obtain benefits stemming from medical expenses, lost wages from work, long-term rehabilitation and any other costs resulting from the workplace accident.