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Traumatic brain injuries: construction workers at high risk

As a Louisiana construction worker, no one need tell you that the job sites where you work often are hectic and noisy places. You also know that many of your jobs require you to work at a substantial height, such as on a roof, a scaffolding, a crane, or while on a tall ladder. Undoubtedly you are very careful when working at heights since you do not want to fall. As careful as you are, however, you are at high risk of falling on an almost daily basis. If and when you do, you also are at high risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury as the result of your fall.

In a recent eight-year period, more than 2,200 construction workers sustained a fatal TBI. Over half of these were from a fall, and these TBI deaths accounted for 25 percent of all construction fatalities that occurred during this period.

Workers most at risk

While all construction workers are at risk for sustaining a TBI, your risk is even greater if you fit into one of the following categories:

  • You work for a construction company that has 20 or fewer employees
  • You are over the age of 64
  • You are not a native-born American citizen

TBI definition and examples

A traumatic brain injury is an injury to your head and/or neck that causes your brain to dysfunction in some way. It could be a jolt to your head that causes your brain to move back and forth within your skull, injuring itself in the process. It could be a penetrating injury to your head such as if a sharp tool or a piece of sharp debris pierces your skull and damages various parts of your brain inside.

TBI symptoms

No two traumatic brain injuries are alike. Symptoms not only can vary a great deal from victim to victim, but also can occur at any time after his or her accident, from immediately to several days or even weeks later. If you sustain a head injury, get immediate medical attention even if you do not think your injury is serious. The sooner a trained health care professional can assess your injury, run the proper tests and arrive at a TBI diagnosis, the sooner you can begin treatment to minimize its effects.

Then be on the lookout for the following symptoms in the next few days or weeks:

  • Headaches, nausea and/or vomiting
  • Blurred vision and/or ringing in your ears
  • Loss of coordination and/or balance, as well as overall dizziness
  • Difficulties speaking
  • Difficulties concentrating, understanding and/or remembering
  • Difficulties sleeping or sleeping too much

Also be watchful for any changes in your normal feelings and moods. TBI victims often develop mood swings and negative feelings or behaviors such as anxiety, depression, anger, even combativeness.

If you notice any of the above symptoms or anything else unusual about your physical, mental or emotional health, go back to your doctor for further tests. You also would do well to contact a knowledgeable personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney. Even a mild TBI can result in substantial medical expenses and time away from work. A severe one can be catastrophic, resulting in long-term or even lifelong disabilities.

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