Brain Injuries in the WorkPlace

Biometric Telehealth: Effective, Accessible Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens when there is a violent blow or severe jolt to the head. It can also occur from a penetrating injury, for example, from a bullet that shatters the skull. Mild TBIs have a temporary effect on the brain. More severe TBIs can result in physical damage in the brain, such as bleeding and bruising, leading to long-term complications.

Most people associate traumatic brain injuries with football players who spend a lifetime banging their heads against other players or being involved in high-impact collisions. However, TBIs can also happen as work-related injuries. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a shockingly high number of workers are seriously injured or die from TBIs in America each year. Construction workers are at particularly high risk. A survey found that more than 2,200 workers in the construction industry died from a traumatic brain injury between 2003 and 2010. 1 TBI is also common among veterans returning from wars and conflict zones and entering the civilian job market. 

Employees with a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury require short- or long-term rehabilitation to address physical, emotional, and cognitive issues. The clinical picture is often complicated by the presence of comorbidities such as chronic pain. The biopsychosocial model recognizes that a multi-pronged effort is needed to promote recovery from TBI. For this reason, access to care and continuity of care assumes great importance. 

In this article, we discuss traumatic brain injuries in the workplace and how an in-clinic or biometric telehealth platform can help employees gain access to evidence-based treatment programs with proven outcomes. 

 Impact of TBI on Workers 

Traumatic brain injuries can have life-threatening and lifelong consequences for workers. Severe TBIs often require emergency care to stabilize the patient and ensure survival. This can include surgical treatment such as removing clots, repairing skull fractures, and making a hole in the skull to relieve pressure. 2 

In the long-term, people with TBI often require rehabilitation therapies to relearn everyday activities, such as cooking, cleaning, and self-care. The treatment is frequently longstanding, sometimes even lifelong. The patient’s treatment is often complicated by the presence of coexisting conditions such as chronic pain and depression, sleep problems, weight gain, and opioid dependence. 

Return-to-work can be challenging for a worker with a traumatic brain injury. One analysis of the TBI registry in Colorado found that roughly 50 percent of people with severe TBI failed to return to work one-year after the incident. 3 A failure to return to productive employment and workers’ compensation claims come at a great economic cost to both employers and employees. 

Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury in Employees 

Workers who have experienced traumatic brain injury often face challenges in the work environment. This includes difficulties in performing daily tasks, for which employers may need to make adjustments. The degree of limitations is usually linked to the severity of the TBI. In some employees with mild TBI, the employer may not necessarily be aware that such a condition is present. Many people applying for jobs are hesitant to disclose TBI unless they need specific accommodations in the workplace. The stigma associated with TBIs and the fear of repercussions in the workplace often prevent workers from seeking proper care for this debilitation condition. 

Lack of Care Options for TBI

The standard of care for TBI includes addressing physical, behavioral, and cognitive impairments that cause disability. An evidence-based treatment program and continuity of rehabilitation services can greatly improve functional outcomes after traumatic brain injury.

The biopsychosocial model is an evidence-based program with proven outcomes in TBI management. At the Institutes of Health, we offer such a program in clinic. However, access to this type of comprehensive care is not always available to workers with TBI. Barriers to the diagnosis and treatment of TBI in injured workers may exist.

Immersive Biometric Telehealth: Making TBI Treatment Accessible to Workers 

Traumatic brain injury has a variety of consequences. To recover from the injury, individuals require several types of care, including physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and psychotherapy. This makes it challenging to define priorities in treatment and plan the patient’s care. 

Telehealth can overcome many of the barriers to TBI care. It offers access to specialist services and evidence-based interdisciplinary biopsychosocial care. It saves time and cost since the individual doesn’t need to travel to a doctor’s office or clinic. There is also improvement in continuity of care. Coexisting conditions, such as fibromyalgia, RSD, and CRPS can be treated at the same time. 

Biometric Telehealth is an advanced telemedicine platform that is much more than a video consultation. It is an immersive clinical treatment program that replicates the patient’s interaction with a comprehensive team of specialists in a brick and mortar clinic. For example, a biometric telehealth platform allows the physician to perform a remote physical exam. The doctor can examine the patient’s heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, throat, and skin. A variety of therapies, such as pain treatment, can be delivered to the worker in the privacy of their home or at the workplace. Some of the treatments for TBI offered through the biometric telehealth program include: 

  • Relearning day-to-day skills 
  • Cognitive rehabilitation 
  • Vestibular rehabilitation 
  • Vocational rehabilitation 
  • Psychotherapy 
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 
  • Medication management
  • EEG-based neurofeedback for mindfulness and meditation 
  • Rehab movement therapy 
  •  Physical therapy 
  • Occupational therapy 
  • Speech therapy
  • Relearning day-to-day skills 
  • Cognitive rehabilitation 
  • Vestibular rehabilitation 
  • Vocational rehabilitation 
  • Psychotherapy 
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 
  • Medication management 
  • EEG-based neurofeedback for mindfulness and meditation 
  • Rehab movement therapy 
  • Physical therapy 
  • Occupational therapy 

Speech therapy

The Institutes of Health is a leader in advanced immersive Biometric Telehealth. We offer a full range of telehealth services for brain injuries, chronic pain rehabilitation, medication management, and PTSD. Talk to us today to learn more about how our in- clinic and Biometric Telehealth programs can help treat and manage a full spectrum of traumatic brain injuries.

References: 

1. https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/13868-niosh-construction-workers- at-high-risk-for-traumatic-brain-injuries

2.https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/tbi/conditioninfo/treatment

3. https://www.brainline.org/article/tbi-research-review-return-work-after-traumatic-brain- injury