What Employers Need To Know About Post Concussion Syndrome at Work

Athletes are not the only people at risk of concussions. While the media has shed light on the potential long-term health risk from concussions on the playing field, people working in mining, construction, and public safety face a similar risk on the job.  For instance, as per the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the construction sector accounts for most work-related head injuries every year. Moreover, construction workers make up about 25% of all concussive injuries that result in fatalities.  

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a jolt, bump, or knock to the head area that alters your normal brain function. The effects are often temporary and can leave the victim with headaches and issues with their memory, concentration, as well as body balance, and coordination. Some concussions can even cause the victim to lose consciousness. Note that TBIs aren’t restricted to concussions. They can also cause contusions, where the brain is literally bruised. Contusions are caused by severe injuries such as a skull fracture or serious head injury. On-the-job TBIs are some of the most dangerous injuries for both employers and their employees. It also happens to be among the hardest to diagnose and can be very inconvenient to the business regarding workers’ compensation claims and operational efficiency. The business can feel the impact of a TBI for years to come.  For the employee, depending on the severity of the situation, concussion recovery can take anywhere between 1 to 2 weeks, or even over 12 months.  Resuming regular activities at work is a process that requires caution, attention, and patience. As such, employers must understand how to help employees with brain injuries make the transition back to their productive, meaningful roles in the workplace.   Here is a guide created to help employers understand how to deal with the post-concussion syndrome at work. 

What is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS) happens when concussion symptoms persist beyond the expected recovery course after the initial injury. Some symptoms of PCS include dizziness, headaches, insomnia, and difficulty in brain functions such as memory and concentration. 

How Employers Should Manage Employees Who Have Experienced a Concussion

If one of your employees experienced a concussion, as their employer, you should make sure the injured employee gets the proper medical care. It would be best if you got an extensive medical evaluation by a doctor who’s qualified to assess and treat TBIs. Depending on the severity of the injury, employees can request the doctor to perform a functional cognitive assessment to help highlight the state of the employee’s cognitive functions. This way, they can implement targeted tools and strategies to improve work productivity and engagement. Allow the employee to lay off work for a few days or weeks, depending on the doctor’s recommendations. Remember to check in with them constantly to let them know that you care and wish them better health.   After the recovery period is over, focus on gradually bringing the employee back to work. As you help them make the transition, managing any potential PCS symptoms and energy levels should be your top priority.  Here’s a list of tips for every employer to consider when helping employees return to work safely. 

1. Prioritize Your Employee

Expect your worker’s activity to decrease after a concussion. So, as you bring them back onboard, consider what tasks they need to do during the day to manage their symptoms and energy levels effectively.  Consider what needs to get done and what can wait for a different day. Ask other employees to help the injured employee with their tasks.  A good rule of thumb to work with is to start with the 10-20-30 rule. This theory stipulates that the employee works for 10 minutes, followed by a 30-minute rest. Do so three times and assess the symptoms. Progress to 20-minute work sessions followed by 30-minute rest breaks for another three times.  Once the injured worker reaches 30-minute working sessions without worsening the symptoms, they can start working part-time as they re-adapt to the work environment.  However, if the employee shows any of the aforementioned symptoms after resuming work, you need to do a follow-up with their doctor for medical evaluation. 

2. Be Patient With the Injured Employee

As highlighted above, you shouldn’t expect the employee to use as much energy as they used to before the concussion. PCS is relatively common, so you need to be patient with them and give them the freedom to get back to work at a comfortable pace.  Help them create a daily work routine that balances both rest and activity. If the patient experiences symptoms, allow them to take a break for the symptoms to settle before giving it another try. But if the symptoms are too persistent, the injured employee might need more rest or another evaluation.  

3. Create a Comfortable Working Space for the Injured Employee

It would be best if you also considered the workspace of the injured employee. After suffering a concussion, strenuous manual labor or sitting at a computer all day can take up a lot of the employee’s energy.

The patient may also be sensitive to light and noise, making it hard for them to concentrate in busy environments. For this reason, allow them to take breaks and alternate between their workspace and calmer environments.   If the injured employee’s work can put their safety and that of others at risk, such as operating heavy machinery or working at great heights, make sure the doctor provides medical clearance first before allowing them to get to work.  

Reach Out to Worker Comp Doctor for Post Concussion Syndrome in New York

  People were never used to taking concussions very seriously, but that was in the past. Today, the medical community understands that even the mildest of concussions needs close monitoring.  In any case, given how important our brains are for vital body functions, any impact should be a cause for concern.  If your employee has sustained a TBI from a work-related accident, you need to make sure you see the right doctor. At Workers Comp doctor, we provide access to neurologists and physical therapists who have specialized in treating concussions from sports injuries, car accidents, and slip and falls.  Get in touch with us today at (888) 590-4030 to book an appointment with one of our specialists.