This article is a continuation of our discussion of strokes and worker’s compensation.
What are the treatments for strokes that occur during the scope of a worker’s employment?
The treatments for a stroke vary depending on the type of stroke you had (ischemic or hemorrhagic), the time since the onset of symptoms, and your other health issues.
Employees who had an ischemic stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA) will usually be treated with medications and various medical procedures/surgeries.
The NIH states that the main treatment for this type of stroke is a medication called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). The medication “breaks up the blood clots that block blood flow to your brain.” This medication is injected in the arm of the worker who has had A stroke. tPA must be given within 3 hours after stroke symptoms being. In some cases, tPA can be given within 4.5 hours. Patients who cannot have tPA may be given an anticoagulant or blood-thinning medicine, such as aspirin or clopidogrel. These medications help stop blood clots from forming or getting larger. Bleeding is a side effect.
Medical surgeries may be necessary to “open up blocked arteries and restore blood flow to the brain.” The possible procedures include a thrombectomy. This procedure removes the clot from the blood vessel. “A surgeon puts a long, flexible tube called a catheter into your upper thigh and threads it to the blocked artery in your neck or brain. They use angioplasty and stenting, or a device called a stent retriever, to open up the blocked artery.”
“If carotid artery disease caused your stroke, your provider may suggest carotid endarterectomy, a surgery to remove plaque from the carotid artery in your neck.”
Like an ischemic stroke, it’s critical to treat this condition as quickly as possible. The treatments depend on the part of the employee’s brain that is bleeding and how much bleeding there is.
The treatments include:
Possible medications for this type of stroke include blood pressure medications to reduce the “pressure and the strain on blood vessels in the brain.” Patients will need to stop taking any “anticoagulant or blood-thinning medicines that may have led to bleeding.”
Possible surgeries include:
- Aneurysm clipping. This procedure “blocks off the aneurysm from the blood vessels in the brain.” The procedure helps stop bleeding from an aneurysm and may help prevent the aneurysm from bursting again.
- Blood transfusions. This procedure replaces blood lost through surgery or injury.
- Coil embolization. This procedure “blocks blood flow to or seals an aneurysm.”
- “Draining excess fluid that has built up in the brain after a stroke and pushed the brain against the skull, causing damage, is another treatment. Draining the fluid can relieve that pressure.”
- Surgeries to temporarily remove part of the skull, use radiation, or remove pooled blood.
Workers who suffer a stroke may also require:
- Breathing support including ventilator support
- Compression therapy which uses “an air-filled sleeve on your [which] leg can lower the risk of venous thromboembolism.”
- A feeding tube is swallowing is difficult – to provide nutrients
- Fluids to help “restore proper blood pressure or blood volume if those levels are low.”
- Medicine to lower a fever
- Rehabilitation plans
- Skin care to prevent irritation or skin sores to help skin stay dry and to help prevent bedsores/pressure sores if an employee who has suffered a stroke can’t move well.
Rehabilitation for strokes
Many workers who have strokes never fully recover and must live with a permanent disability. Employees who do recover often need weeks, months, or even years of extensive rehabilitative care to recover from a stroke.
After the initial treatment for a stroke, employees may work with many different neurology specialists, psychiatrists. other mental health professionals, and with a rehabilitative team. The rehabilitation team may include:
- Physical therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Vocational therapists
- Speech therapists
- Rehabilitation nurses
- Other healthcare professionals
- Support groups
Stroke rehabilitation includes exercises, strategies, and other remedies to help stroke recovery patients with:
- Muscle and nerve problems
- Bowel and bladder difficulties
- Language, communication, speech, and memory challenges
- Eating and swallowing disorders
Employees who are recovering from a stroke may also need to learn how to use wheelchairs, canes, braces, and technology that can help them function and possibly do some type of work.
Treatment for Heart Attacks
According to the American Heart Association, the most common forms of treatments after a Heart Attack are:
- Angioplasty: Special tubing with an attached deflated balloon is threaded up to the coronary arteries.
- Angioplasty, Laser: Similar to angioplasty except that the catheter has a laser tip that opens the blocked artery.
- Artificial heart valve surgery: Replaces an abnormal or diseased heart valve with a healthy one.
- Atherectomy: Similar to angioplasty except that the catheter has a rotating shaver on its tip to cut away plaque from the artery.
- Bypass surgery: Treats blocked heart arteries by creating new passages for blood to flow to your heart muscle.
- Cardiomyoplasty: An experimental procedure in which skeletal muscles are taken from a patient’s back or abdomen.
- Heart transplant: Removes a diseased heart and replaces it with a donated healthy human heart.
- Minimally invasive heart surgery: An alternative to standard bypass surgery.
- Radiofrequency ablation: A catheter with an electrode at its tip is guided through the veins to the heart muscle to destroy carefully selected heart muscle cells in a very small area.
- Stent procedure: A stent is a wire mesh tube used to prop open an artery during angioplasty.
- Transmyocardial revascularization (TMR): A laser is used to drill a series of holes from the outside of the heart into the heart’s pumping chamber
The psychological trauma of strokes for employees
In addition to the possible loss of certain bodily functions and pain through different parts of the body, it’s natural for employees who have a stroke or heart attack to develop psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, fear, and depression. Some employees who have a stroke may also develop post-traumatic-stress-disorder, hallucinations, and psychotic disorders.
What benefits are employees who suffer strokes entitled to claim?
If your claim is deemed compensable, workers compensation in both North Carolina and Virginia should cover all your medical bills including ambulance transportation, ER care, hospitalizations and surgeries, doctor visits, rehabilitation, assistive devices, and medications – for as long as you need help.
Employees who have psychological trauma due to a workplace stroke or heart attack are entitled to workers’ compensation coverage for their psychological care and for any medicines that can help them adjust.
If you are unable to work due to disability resulting from a compensable injury, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation for up to 500 weeks, based on 2/3rds of your average weekly wage.
If an employee tragically dies due to a compensable stroke or heart attack, we pursue death benefits on behalf of the family.
Strokes can cause employees to never be able to work again. Workers who can return to work normally need a long time before they are ready to work. Our North Carolina and Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer works with your team of doctors and our network of doctors when necessary to show just how devastating your stroke injuries are.
At Joe Miller Law Ltd., we’ll seek compensation for all your medical bills, temporary disability benefits, and, if necessary, permanent disability benefits. We’ll fight to ensure your employer cannot force you back to work if you’re not ready. Call attorney Joe Miller, Esq., at 888-667-8295 or use my online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Our law firm does have a way for you to provide your details of your accident and injuries if you simply want to do that electronically from the comfort and safety of your home at any time of day or night. To utilize this service, simply click here: New Electronic Case Review.
We’ll get back to you, typically within 24 hours to provide our response as to whether your situation is one where we can provide you with legal representation. If we require more information, we’ll contact you and ask for that information in order to make that determination as to whether we are the best folks to assist you. If we ultimately determine that we cannot represent or assist you, we will not leave you high and dry. We’ll do our best to provide you with other resources to assist you.