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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Kayler

Understanding TBI in the construction industry

The construction industry leads the nation in number of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) reported each year. As such, construction workers are at higher risk of TBI than those in other industries. Following is additional information on TBIs and some key resources.

What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

TBI is the result of a forceful bump or blow to the head. There are two broad classifications of TBI; penetrating and non-penetrating. Also, referred to as an open TBI, a penetrating TBI occurs when an object pierces the skull and enters the brain tissue. A non-penetrating injury can be the result of a fall, vehicular crash or a blast. Traumatic Brain Injury can range from mild such as a concussion to severe, which may include a minimally conscious state or coma. Per the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center for TBI, “Moderate and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) can lead to a lifetime of physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes. These changes may affect a person’s ability to function in their everyday life. Despite initial hospitalization and inpatient rehabilitation services, about 50 percent of people with TBI will experience further decline in their daily lives or die within 5 years of their injury.”

TBI symptoms will vary based on the area of the brain affected by the injury. As such, each individual living with a brain injury will experience symptoms that are unique to them. For example, a person who has sustained an injury to their frontal lobe may experience issues with impulsivity, personality changes and self-regulation; whereas an TBI in the cerebellum may result in ataxia and balance disturbances.

Diagnosing TBI will require several assessments. The Glasgow Coma Scale is a standardized assessment initially administered in the field by emergency responders prior to transfer to the emergency department. Once in the emergency department, imaging tests will be run that may include a CT and/or MRI of the brain and brain stem. The medical team may run additional blood work and monitor symptoms for improvement.

Symptoms for Mild TBI (Concussion)injury include:

  • Dizziness

  • Headache

  • Confusion

  • Lightheadedness

  • Blurred vision

  • Fatigue or lethargy

  • Ringing in the ears

Symptoms for Moderate to Severe TBI include:

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • A persistent headache, or one that continues to worsen

  • Seizures or convulsions

  • Extreme sleepiness

  • Speech changes (including slurring or difficulty recalling words)

  • Loss of coordination

  • Confusion, restlessness, or agitation

  • Weakness or numbness in the arms, legs, hands, or feet

  • Pupil dilation in one or both eyes

Who is most likely to sustain at TBI?

Men are at higher risk for TBI and men who are injured are at a higher risk of mortality related to TBI. People aged 75+ years are in the group at greatest risk of TBI, secondary to high fall rates among this population.

What are factors that place you at higher risk for TBI?

Risky behaviors can increase your risk of TBI. According to the Mayo Clinic, people most at risk of traumatic brain injury include:

  • Children, especially newborns to 4-year-olds

  • Young adults, especially those between ages 15 and 24

  • Adults age 60 and older

Males in any age group Where can you find resources if you are or loved one has sustained at TBI? Most individuals who have sustained a TBI that is more severe than a concussion will require rehabilitation. Rehabilitation through a Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems classified rehabilitation is highly recommended by medical professionals. These centers offer specialty programming and medical professionals with who focus their careers on the rehabilitation efforts for Traumatic Brain Injury. You can find a list of TBI Model Systems hospitals at If there is not a TBIMS system in your area, you can look for a rehabilitation with a TBI Certification from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. Other helpful resources are as follows:

In honor of our focus on safety and wellness, to include awareness of TBIs and the growing trend of switching to helmets, AOE has made a donation to the Brain Injury Network (BIN) -- a nonprofit organization that uses brain injury clubhouse programs to empower acquired brain injury survivors to maximize their strengths while developing strategies to meet personal goals for community reintegration. BIN has two brain injury clubhouse programs in Plano, TX, and Fort Worth, TX. These provide a vital link in the post-brain injury rehabilitative process that assists survivors in transitioning from therapy to the community upon discharge. This support bridge provides survivors with tools to maintain and improve abilities obtained through the difficult.

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