We’ve all heard about athletes sustaining concussions on the playing field; however, concussions in the workplace are among the most serious on-the-job injuries. The occupations with the highest risk of head injury are:
- Construction workers
- Police officers
- Race car drivers
- Loading dock workers
- Delivery personnel
“Most workplace head injuries are caused by falling objects, slip and falls, malfunctioning or broken equipment, or workers who hit their heads on objects on the worksite,” said KORT Director of Sports Medicine Doug Means, M.A., ATC. “A concussion occurs following a significant blow to the head which forces the brain to push through the protective fluid between the skull and the brain causing bruising.”
According to Means, the amount and degree of symptoms very greatly among patients and are not directly related to the severity of injury.
“Some symptoms show up right away and resolve quickly. Others may not appear until the next day and may persist for longer,” said Means. “If you’ve experienced a blow to the head it’s always best to consult a physician right away to determine whether or not you’ve suffered a concussion.”
Physical symptoms of a concussion may include:
- memory loss
- abnormal behavior
- loss of balance
- blurred vision
- ringing in the ears
- photophobia (sensitivity to light)
- disruptions in sleep
Rest is Key to Treating a Workplace Concussion
Allowing the brain to rest is a key component to recovering from a concussion, said Means. Depending on the severity of the concussion, you may have to limit or discontinue your use of cell phones, video games, reading, driving and even computer work in order to allow the brain to recover, he said. This may require time away from work, athletics and the classroom, said Means.
According to Means, returning to regular activity too early after suffering a head injury may have deadly consequences. If symptoms are not resolved and patients have not given themselves adequate time to rest and recover they may experience second impact syndrome, said Means.
“You don’t need to experience a second blow to the head to feel the effects. Simply not allowing yourself proper recovery time and making sure all symptoms have subsided before returning to activity, may be enough to cause a relapse,” said Means.
Returning to Work
According to Means, once a patient is cleared by a physician he or she should return to work gradually. Scheduling consideration should include a shortened workday, breaks when symptoms increase and even reducing task assignments and responsibilities, he said. Other safety considerations include no driving, no heavy lifting, and no heights due to risk of dizziness and balance problems, said Means.
Kentucky Orthopedic Rehab Team (KORT) has been specializing in outpatient physical and occupational therapy in Kentucky and Southern Indiana for over 25 years. Local ownership and independent operations, allow KORT clinicians to work one-on-one with patients to regain strength, increase flexibility, improve mobility, and reduce pain without drugs or surgery. Selected as a “Best Places to Work in Kentucky” for ten consecutive years, and with over 40 locations, KORT has the most board certified Orthopedic Specialists and Vestibular Rehabilitation specialists than any other provider in the region. KORT’s certified athletic trainers provide sports medicine services to more than 30 high schools and colleges in Kentucky & Southern Indiana.