New Jersey construction workers often work in hazardous places such as on roofs, scaffolds, tall ladders and in and around cranes. Consequently, the risk of falling is higher for construction workers than it is for people working in other industries and environments.
A construction worker’s head is one of most vulnerable parts of his or her body when falls occur. Even a seemingly minor head injury can cause a traumatic brain injury. The Mayo Clinic defines a TBI as brain dysfunction that results from some type of external force coming into contact with the head.
Falls are the number one cause of TBIs because often the head sustains a violent blow or jolt. In addition, falling onto a sharp object can cause a penetrating wound to the scalp. Even the pressure waves from a nearby blast can cause a TBI.
Any head injury is potentially serious, but for medical purposes TBIs are categorized as mild, moderate and severe. A mild TBI can cause any or all of the following symptoms:
- Temporary unconsciousness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Ringing in the ears, also called tinnitus
- Blurred vision
In addition, the victim may have problems concentrating and/or remembering things. He or she also may suffer from mood changes and feelings of anxiety and/or depression.
Victims of moderate to severe TBIs can exhibit the symptoms listed above, plus additional symptoms, including the following:
- Seizures and/or convulsions
- Sleep problems such as having great difficulty waking up
- Speech difficulties such as slurred or garbled speech
- Extreme mental confusion
- Coma and/or death
Lifetime TBI costs
The Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute predicts that a person who suffers a TBI in his or her 20s can face lifetime costs of $15-20 million for medical, rehabilitation and personal care. Annual average costs can run well over $500,000.
TBI outcomes are unpredictable since no two are exactly alike. What is known, however, is that TBI victims are at significantly higher risk for developing other brain-related diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and senility.
In addition, many TBI victims are unable to work and support themselves. Nor does their insurance cover all their needed care. This leads to catastrophic family consequences when a family member must give up his or her own job and livelihood in order to stay home and care for the disabled loved one. The NRI estimates that such “hidden” TBI costs amount to over $375 billion annually.