Post-Concussion Syndrome Overview
Post-concussion syndrome is a disorder characterized by post-concussion symptoms, such as headaches or dizziness, last for weeks or months after a head injury that caused a concussion.
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury which usually occurs as a result of a blow to the head. The risk of post-concussive syndrome is not necessarily associated with the severity of the initial injury.
In most people, symptoms of post-concussive syndrome occur within the first week to ten days after the injury, and they typically resolve within three months, although they can persist for a year or more. Post-concussion syndrome treatments are aimed at treating the symptoms associated with the syndrome.
Symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome
Symptoms of post-concussion syndrome can include:
- Loss of concentration and memory
- Noise and light sensitivity
Treating post-concussive syndrome involves treating the symptoms associated with the condition. For headaches, your doctor may prescribe medications. For memory or thinking difficulties, cognitive therapy may be helpful. For depression and anxiety, you may be referred for psychotherapy or prescribed medications.
Post-Concussion Syndrome and Minnesota Workers’ Compensation
If you’re suffering from post-concussive syndrome as a result of a work-related concussion, you may be entitled to Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, permanent partial disability benefits and/or rehabilitation benefits.
Post-concussive syndrome involves persistent symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and anxiety. These symptoms are subjective, meaning they are not easy to objectively measure. You can’t see a headache, dizziness, or anxiety, on an x-ray or an MRI. That doesn’t mean those symptoms are not real, but it does mean that your diagnosis is based on your subjective complaints of symptoms. Because these symptoms are subjective, workers’ compensation insurance companies often dispute claims involving post-concussive syndrome, particularly if the symptoms last for an extended period of time. Often, a workers’ compensation insurer may send you to an independent medical examination to assess the nature and extent of your injuries. Almost invariably, that IME doctor will say that you have no objective symptoms, and therefore, there’s nothing wrong with you. Based on that opinion, the workers' compensation insurer will then deny your claim for Minnesota workers' compensation benefits.
Post-concussion syndrome is real, and it can be significantly disabling. If your workers’ compensation insurance company denies or disputes your claim for benefits, you have the right to dispute that denial!
We represented a woman a couple years ago who was a pedestrian who was struck by a car. While this involved a personal injury claim, and disputes with her no-fault insurer, and the uninsured motorist claim over her entitlement to benefits, I think it’s informative as to how far insurance companies will sometimes go to deny a legitimate claim. She was walking down the sidewalk when a car came flying from a nearby parking lot and hit her, throwing her several feet in the air, and she landed, face-first on the ground. She was knocked unconscious and was transported by ambulance to the Emergency Room where she was treated for a concussion. It turned out that the driver who hit her was not only intoxicated, but he was in the process of stealing the car when he ran her down. Almost immediately, she began experiencing significant headaches and severe dizziness as well as fatigue.
Within about six weeks after the accident, her own insurance company sent her to an “independent” medical examination and promptly cut off her No-Fault benefits. The so-called doctor who examined her went to great lengths to downplay the seriousness of the accident. In his report, he described the accident as if she had been simply “bumped” by a slow-moving vehicle, and fell down as a result. He also failed to mention the fact that she lost consciousness, that she had severe scrapes on her face from hitting the pavement, that she was transported by ambulance to the Emergency Room, or that she was diagnosed with a concussion. He suggested instead, that she had sustained a minor neck sprain that should have fully resolved within a couple weeks.
Thankfully, a No-Fault arbitrator saw how ridiculous this opinion was, and awarded her the full amount of her claim for No-Fault benefits. We also secured a significant settlement for her of her uninsured motorist claim.
We’ve represented several Minnesota workers who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, including post-concussion syndrome following a work-related concussion:
- A security guard who was hit in the head with a two-by-four by a burglar.
- A special education teacher who was hit in the face by a student with a behavior disorder.
- A truck driver who stuck his head on the ground after a load he was delivering fell out of the back of the truck and hit him, causing him to fall to the ground.
- A truck driver who was jostled around in the cab of the truck when a student driver he was training ran the truck off the road.
- A stage hand who was hit in the face by a piece of stage equipment that came loose and swung around, striking her.
- A police officer who was shot in the head with a rubber bullet during training.
- A mechanic who was working underneath a raised vehicle, when he stood up suddenly, striking his head on the undercarriage of the truck.
- A young construction worker who was hit in the head by a floor truss that fell off a forklift working above him.