The Loss of Work in the Aftermath Traumatic Brain Injury
By Michael Pines, Accident & Injury Prevention Expert
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) affect every facet of life, from memory to physical ability to performing every day functions like speaking and eating. Unfortunately, it goes without saying that TBIs are one of the most catastrophic forms of injury. And when it comes to recovery, restoring full brain function is often rare. In this sense, returning to work after a traumatic brain injury is generally difficult, if not impossible.
In a recent
, we learn of one woman’s struggle with traumatic brain injury after she fell backward in a snow storm, landing head first onto icy pavement.
“My feet went out from under me and my head just hit the pavement,” said Carey Gelfand, a Glencoe, Ill. resident who said she was on a business trip in New York when the accident occurred.
Although she brushed off the accident at first, a cognitive fog soon developed. Once she returned home, she began forgetting crucial details and lost the ability to focus at work. Exhaustion overtook her body and she was often plagued with debilitating headaches.
“My boss [wanted] to take jobs away from me. I was very diminished in my position. I was just so frustrated and I had such poor sense of self,” said Gelfand.
Although most TBIs occur as a result of car accidents, some may occur in the most unfortunate and yet ordinary ways such as a trip or fall. Seeking medical attention as soon as a TBI is suspected is essential when it comes to recovery and possible prevention of further injury.
“It is important after a brain injury see a neurologist who can administer the proper tests,” the article noted. “Not doing so means it could be weeks or years before the injury is diagnosed.”
Gelfland said her job suffered considerably in wake of her TBI. Though she did not lose her job, she struggled to keep up with demands. Fortunately, she is able to talk about her experience, striving to create awareness for this surprisingly prevalent injury (TBIs affect at least 1.5 million Americans each year).
Although Gelfland has maintained her work, most people are not as fortunate. One
found that low income and unemployment were quite common in the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury, leading many into difficult financial positions.
There is one bright aspect: psychologists, doctors and other healthcare practitioners are working together to increase head injury awareness.
“I think we are in... one of those ‘ah ha!’ [moments]. We know better now,” said Chicago-based psychologist Morgan Wolin. “But, if we know better, will we do better? Will human resources say, ‘Okay concussions are a real thing, let’s take it more seriously?’”
As for employee accommodation, most human resource (HR) departments are willing to accommodate individuals with TBIs. For the most seamless transition, employees affected by traumatic brain injury are urged to work with their employers and HR departments to find a reasonable solution.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals with a TBI may need special accommodations such as:
You should work with your employer to accommodate shorter work days and/or an increase in breaks. Resting is the key when it comes to recovery.
Operating vehicles, heavy equipment or lifting heavy objects are generally prohibited once TBIs are diagnosed. It’s important to keep activities light while promoting rest.
For more information on traumatic brain injury and returning to work,
- Individuals in need of legal help after TBI diagnosis are urged to call 1-800-655-6585 for a free consultation.
About Michael Pines
Michael Pines is a car accident lawyer in San Diego and avid spokesperson for the promotion of personal safety. He is the founder of the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC. Follow him on
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