An exterior force upon the head or the sudden movement of the head in a whiplash fashion can cause a jarring movement disrupting the connection where the brain attaches to inside wall of the skull. The injured area can be specific (focal) or over a widespread area (diffuse).
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These traumatic brain injuries are often under diagnosed because the symptoms are subtle and mysterious. They can cause numerous problems; physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral. Even more difficult for the injured worker trying to assert a claim, a variety of events caused by the trauma do not take place immediately; events such as alterations in cerebral blood flow and the pressure within the skull (intracranial pressure).
Brain injury symptoms are elusive, such as simply being unable to remember to do ordinary things on occasion – such as washing one’s hands. Often changes in one’s demeanor are erroneously attributed to other, more mundane, developments, such as aging or a change in mood as opposed to an actual injury.
Some injured workers develop neuropsychiatric symptoms such as clinical depression which require mental health professionals such as therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, and neuropsychologists to help evaluate and manage the cognitive deficits. Unfortunately, because of the elusive nature of the conditions, claims examiners often mistakenly assume fraud when an injured person seeks assistance.
Despite this, brain injuries are eligible for wage loss compensation and medical benefits from the OWCP, but, according to the federal workers compensation laws (FECA), there are no schedule award benefits available for them. Of course, if the condition is such that it interrupts one’s ability to perform their work duties, the diagnosis can serve to qualify one for disability benefits from OPM.