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Construction workers and traumatic brain injury

Construction workers in Minnesota and across the nation are at substantial risk for receiving a work-related traumatic brain injury because they so often must work on roofs, scaffolding, tall ladders, etc. where they are subject to falls. The Mayo Clinic defines a traumatic brain injury as one where an external mechanical force comes into contact with the head, causing brain dysfunction. A TBI usually results from a blow to the head, whether or not the object penetrates the skull.

Falls are by far the most common accidents that cause a TBI. The farther the fall, the greater the risk for receiving one. Likewise, the harder or sharper the surface coming into contact with the head, the greater the likelihood of a serious or even catastrophic TBI.

TBI symptoms

Any head injury, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is potentially dangerous. The victim should receive immediate medical attention from emergency responders who are trained to assess injuries and know the symptoms to watch for. In addition, it is critical that the victim be transported to a hospital as soon as possible so that doctors and other health care professionals can run the proper tests, arrive at the correct diagnosis and begin appropriate treatment.

A “mild” TBI can cause any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Brief loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness, disorientation, confusion and/or dazedness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

A moderate or severe TBI also can cause any or all of the above symptoms, plus additional symptoms such as the following:

  • Seizures and/or convulsions
  • Worsening headaches
  • Loss of coordination
  • Sleep difficulties, particularly difficulty in awakening from sleep
  • Slurred speech
  • Combative and/or agitated behavior

Returning to work after a TBI

The Brain Injury Association of America recommends that anyone returning to work after a TBI try to do so gradually. In addition, the worker should talk to his or her employer about being assigned shorter hours and/or a lighter workload, even if this requires taking on a different role within the company.

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