Pilot program launched to support workers with concussion-related injuries

Consistent treatment, management protocols to be developed

The Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia has launched a pilot project to determine how to best support workers who have sustained a concussion.

The pilot project will determine the appropriate resources needed for concussion management, create a consistent treatment protocol and develop a concussion management protocol. The goal is to improve worker outcomes and helps ensure a safe and timely return to work, the WCB said.

“Management of concussion or mild traumatic brain injury can be challenging,” said Paul Eagan, WCB’s chief medical officer. “WCB Nova Scotia is committed to working with physicians toward the goal of helping workers recover from their injuries, resume normal activities of daily living and return to or stay at work.”

The WCB is adopting the same approach that the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre endorses in the management of a concussion. These guidelines provide a framework to guide patient diagnosis and management when returning to work where the risk of re-injury is very low, said Eagan. 

 The majority of patients who sustained a concussion are back at work and resume other normal activities within a week or two of the injury. However, when additional services are required, an occupational therapist can help make that transition back to normal activities faster and less frustrating for the patient. This can include clinical assessment and treatments, as well as work site visits with the worker and employer to come up with workable solutions.

Early intervention in concussion injuries is very important, said Eagan.

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“The best outcomes following (a) concussion are achieved when health-care resources are accessed early, are readily available and are effectively used. A proactive approach promotes early involvement of an occupational therapist to identify symptoms and use a problem-solving, practical attitude to symptom management at home and in the workplace,” he said.

As of Feb. 1, new concussion injuries are directed to three service providers: CORE, Lifemark and CBI. Workers who sustained an injury prior to Feb. 1 and are currently being treated for concussion-related injuries will continue with their current service provider and treatment program.

The WCB expects about 150 injured workers will be part of the pilot, which is expected to wrap up at the end of this year.

This article originally appeared in the April/May 2017 issue of COS.