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The negative effects of PTSD on injured workers – Part II

| Jun 29, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

As regular readers of our Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Law Blog will undoubtedly recall, we recently wrote about the effects PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) can have on injured workers.

Experts say PTSD has several main negative effects on those who have been injured on the job. Let’s take a brief look:

PTSD makes it hard to stick to treatment plans

As you might recall from our previous post, PTSD often disrupts the injured worker’s sleep. The condition can also include flashbacks of the accident and fears of reinjury that can make it difficult for a patient to actively participate in recovery plans.

That means patients diagnosed with the disorder can struggle to participate in physical therapy, go to physician appointments, return phone calls and so on.

PTSD can make symptoms worse

The disorder makes not only emotional symptoms of injury worse, but it can also worsen workers’ experience of physical pain. Research shows that up to 30 percent of patients diagnosed with PTSD suffer chronic pain.

TBI is also often linked to PTSD, studies of veterans show. Research indicates approximately 35 percent of those with TBI also experience PTSD.

TBI patients often have post-concussive syndrome, which has symptoms that mirror PTSD, including struggles with concentration, irritability and disturbances by loud noises.

PTSD patients can fear a return to work

Even when an injured worker diagnosed with PTSD is able to adhere to their treatment plan and physically recover from their injury, a return to work can be delayed by fear of returning to the scene of the accident or attack.

An imminent return or actual return can trigger memories of the injury or fears of reinjury and PTSD symptoms.

Unfortunately, PTSD can be difficult to diagnose. In many cases, doctors, injured workers and the workers’ compensation system are so focused on physical recovery and a return to work that psychological conditions such as PTSD can be overlooked.

Another factor that can make a PTSD diagnosis difficult is that symptoms might not manifest themselves until weeks or even months have passed after the workplace injury.

There is no doubt that PTSD can complicate recovery from injury as well as a Wisconsin workers’ comp claim.

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