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27 May 2022

Brain injury

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Brain injuries can have life-changing impacts for both the individual and their loved ones. A brain injury can be a result of an accident, or in some cases clinical negligence.

The common causes and types of brain injuries

The most common type of brain injury following an accident, such as a road traffic accident or a fall, is a traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury can range from being moderate to severe, complicated or uncomplicated, and open (penetrative) or closed. The classification of brain injury can depend on how long a person is unconscious after an injury. 

A concussion is the most common type of traumatic brain injury and is considered as moderate. It is caused by the brain rapidly moving back and forth and can result in temporary disruption to brain function that can last for several weeks. The symptoms of concussion include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Interference with vision.

If there has been a significant blow to the head the brain can jolt backwards, hitting the skull and causing a bruise called a contrecoup lesion. The jarring of the brain against the skull can cause tears to the lining, bleeding and swelling which can result in a disability, this is considered a severe traumatic brain injury.

Another common cause of brain injuries is a stroke. A stroke is an emergency condition in which the blood supply to the brain is disrupted. This disruption leaves the brain cells starved of oxygen, causing them to die and resulting in a brain injury. The chance of experiencing a stroke can be increased if appropriate treatment is not given for a medical condition for example, as a result of negligence.

The effects of a brain injury

The impact of a brain injury can be life-changing. Even a small bump on the head could lead to a minor traumatic brain injury, which in turn could temporarily impair brain function (concussion). Although the symptoms of concussion may subside within two weeks, some individuals can have lasting problems for months or years after.

Survivors of a more severe brain injury are likely to have more acute long-term physical and emotional effects, which can severely affect their relationships and personality and may impede their independence. Therefore, it is essential to understand the nature and effect of a head injury to determine how it will impact someone’s future and what measures (such as care and rehabilitation) are required to ensure they are able to continue to live their life.

Brain injuries in the construction industry

Construction, by its very nature, can be a dangerous place to work, and even a seemingly insignificant bump to the head may result in a significant injury later on. Although there are regulations and other control mechanisms already in place to ensure the safety of individuals on construction sites, there is always a continued risk of a head injury being sustained, particularly if the correct protection is not provided or used.

What can be done to reduce the likelihood of a brain injury whilst working in the construction industry?

1. Comply

All construction workers, with the exception of turban-wearing Sikhs, must be provided with and should wear suitable head protection.

Head protection provided to construction workers must:

  • Be in good condition
  • Fit and be worn properly
  • Not stop you also wearing hearing protectors when needed
  • Only be obtained from a reputable supplier
  • Be stored correctly
  • Be CE marked (which confirms that it meets the basic safety requirements)

2. Know what to do

If you think you have a concussion there are three steps that must be taken:

  • Stop to recognise how you feel
  • Report it to your line manager
  • Recover before you go back to your usual activities
Brain injuries and clinical negligence claims

Sadly, failings in medical treatment can sometimes lead to patients suffering a serious brain injury.

In some circumstances, patients can suffer brain injuries when undergoing complex neurological procedures. Brain injuries can also arise as a result of pre and post-operative shortcomings in treatment, such as a failure to monitor the patient’s temperature in the recovery toom or a failure to administer appropriate blood thinning medication prior to a routine cardiac procedure.

It is important to obtain legal advice to determine whether the injury is likely to have been caused by substandard treatment.

Find out more

Find out more by visiting our Medical Mondays hub, designed to provide up-to-date information on the different injuries, accidents, and claims that are commonly encountered by our team.

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