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Can Traumatic Brain Injuries Lead to Disability?

Updated February 20, 2021 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

Whether you were in a traffic accident or suffered a bad fall, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have a major impact on your life. Internal bleeding, bruising, or swelling in the brain is a serious injury, and depending on the area of the brain that was affected, you could suffer some form of impairment or disability for months or years after your accident.

What Are Traumatic Brain Injuries?

TBIs are injuries from blows to the head, involving impact in a closed head injury. Around 1.7 million people in the United States suffer from TBI, many of which do not even show up in medical settings. This is due to injuries being sports-related or caused by day-to-day activities that do not seem to require medical help at first. This mainly happens with mild TBI, or concussions, which are just recently fainting attention for the harm they cause.

According to the National Center of Biotechnology Information, those who suffer from TBI are also known to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as other psychiatric disorders

When a Brain Injury Prevents You from Working

Even a minor injury can lead to memory loss, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue that can limit your ability to function in your daily life. Severe brain injuries could severely impact:

  • abstract thinking skills
  • Communication ability
  • motor control

It can also produce symptoms such as:

  • sleeping problems
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • problems with memory and attention span
  • Increased anxiety
  • Poor social judgment
  • Irritability

These types of impairments can prevent previously dedicated workers from getting up in the morning, and earning an income at all might be out of the question.

In the workplace, other symptoms from your brain injury can arise and affect how you perform your day-to-day duties:

  • Communication problems: using phones, conversing with coworkers, and talking to clients becomes difficult.
  • Mobility problems: paralysis, numbness, and dizziness causing instability can require special accommodations in an office. Physical jobs that require a great deal of lifting or moving could become impossible.
  • Cognitive impairment: office jobs and record-keeping jobs might need to be ruled out for someone with memory loss or concentration problems.
  • Vision problems: make detail, maintenance, inspection, and assembly a challenge.

Disability Rating Scale

The disability rating scale (DRS) was developed and tested for adult and older juvenile patients with TBIs in an inpatient rehabilitation setting. This scale is used to track individual progress as well as give a numerical score suggesting a level of impairment. The DRS rating scale ranges from 0- no disability, to 29- extreme. The test can be self-administered or scored through an interview to gauge functional changes for patients on the scale from coma to full functionality. It uses the World Health Organization’s categories of impairment, disability, and handicap to gauge cognitive and physical functionality.

Social Security and Disability

For the purposes of Social Security, a TBI is considered brain damage caused by a closed head injury but can also be classified as a skull fracture or penetration of the brain tissue by a foreign object. Qualifying for Social Security benefits requires medical records that document either of these limitations:

  • An inability to control the movement of at least two limbs for three consecutive months after injury, which can cause problems in balance, standing, or using the arms
  • Having marked physical and cognitive limitations for at least three months after your injury. These limitations can involve thinking, focusing on tasks, regulating emotions, controlling behavior, and interacting with other people

Keeping documents are important for you and your personal injury attorney. Have multiple copies of your emergency room records, clinic notes, counselor or caseworker notes, test results, documentation of impairments beyond your TBI, and even written statements from friends, family, and coworkers or employers. They can help you in pursuing a lawsuit if need be.

Contact a Brain Injury Attorney Today

It can be difficult to know what to do after a traumatic brain injury. If you have a temporary or permanent disability as a result of your injury, your life has been drastically changed. You do not have to face your fight for justice alone.

Contact the Indianapolis Brain Injury Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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