Category Archives: Help for Injuries

Category for all posts related to “help for injuries”.

Frequently asked questions about Workers’ Compensation in Georgia

Workers’ comp cases are governed and adjudicated by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, located in Atlanta (with satellite offices in other cities across the state).  In the last few years, it’s updated its website to include several resources for persons who’ve been injured at work in Georgia and need some guidance with questions or concerns afterward.

Here’s a good one:  the State Board’s frequently asked questions and answers page.  It covers several areas of inquiry in basic, plain language.  For details and the “how to” parts of handling your case, you should call my law office, however !

How can I deal with chronic pain after my accident without drugs?

Most of our clients are in extreme (and often chronic) pain and would prefer not to get addicted to narcotic pain medications.  Below is a summary of a recent report that aired on NPR from our summer intern, Sophie Frostbaum:

Often times, when we are feeling sad, we reach over to grab our I-Pod, put on a playlist of our favorite songs, and the power of music has successfully eased our pain. Of course, music can make us feel better emotionally, but is it true that music can make us feel better physically? No, I am not talking about a Kanye West song pumping you up before an intensive workout; I’m talking about literally easing your physical pain!

It all began with Sunitha Suresh, a college student at the time. She put her grandmother’s favorite south Indian classical Carnatic music on an I-Pod, after she had just endured an intensive surgery. Her grandmother’s surgery placed her in intensive care, along with three other patients, meaning her family could not always be by her side; however, she always had the music. Suresh watched as the music created a cathartic effect on her grandmother; she noticed less anxiety felt by her grandmother, which brought her to wonder if her grandmother was, perhaps, also feeling less pain.

Suresh, majoring in biomedical engineering at Northwestern University, decided to pair up with her father Santhanam Suresh, who is a professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics at the school, in conducting a study to see if music does in fact ease physical pain. Since Dr. Suresh works with children, they studied on sixty pediatric patients between ages 9 and 14, all who were undergoing strenuous operations that would cause them to stay in the hospital for a few days at the minimum. After surgery, the children received narcotics to control their pain, and then they were split into three groups; one group listened to music of their choice, the second group listened to an audio book of their choice, and their third group simply listened to silence, wearing noise cancelling headphones, all of these lasting for thirty minutes.

As a measurement of pain, the researchers used the Faces Pain Scale, which showed different faces ranging from smiling to frowning. The children pointed to a face that depicted their pain level prior to the audio therapy, and then once again after the audio therapy was completed.

The results? After a 30-minute session, the children who listened to music, or an audio book had a pain level drop of an entire point! This may not sound like much, but analytically, that is an entire ten percent less pain, which is equivalent to taking an over-the-counter pain medicine such as Tylenol or Advil. This phenomenal discovery may lead to a decrease in pain medicine that doctors prescribe their pediatric patients. Children, being smaller and suffering more side effects from pain medicines may not have to go through as much trouble if these findings continue to grow. What is next on the list for these researchers? They plan to see if music can decrease pain levels, once arriving home from the hospital. So parents, next time your child says they have a headache and can’t go to school, make sure to plug in their favorite tunes!

Work Cited:

Neighmond, Patti. “To Ease Pain, Reach For Your Playlist Instead Of Popping A Pill.” NPR. NPR, 22 June 2015. Web. 23 June 2015.

Is back pain an inevitable part of being American? Let’s hope not.

I heard a story on NPR recently about posture, the “J” shaped spine vs. the “S” shaped spine, and indigenous cultures that don’t have back pain.  Below is a summary of the report, provided by my summer intern, Sophie Frostbaum:

Back pain can be the root of all evil, and unfortunately, nearly all Americans will suffer from it at some point or another. Even worse, for a third of those people, no treatments will work, leaving them with a life of chronic back pain.

Globally, there are a few cultures where back pain barely exists, including one indigenous tribe in Central India that reported practically none. As the people of this tribe aged, the discs in their backs showed an extremely minor amount of degeneration.

Esther Gokhale, an acupuncturist in Palo Alto, California, also known as the “posture guru” in Silicone Valley, thinks she has figured out why these people have nearly flawless backs. After traveling the world and studying cultures with low back pain, including how they stand, sit and walk, she is sharing their mending ways with people across the U.S in an attempt to ease their back pain.

When Gokhale began to struggle with back pain nearly two decades ago after her first child, it completely changed her life. She discovered that she had a herniated disk, and eventually underwent surgery to fix it. A year later, it happened again. When the doctor told her to go in for another surgery, Gokhale decided that she did not want to have another surgery; she wanted a permanent fix.

Gokhale had no faith in Western medicine permanently easing her back pain. She had the brilliant idea of spending the next decade visiting cultures around the world that live far from modern life, who do not suffer from back pain, and observing the ways by which they live. She viewed people spending their days sitting and weaving, walking with buckets of water on their heads, and collecting firewood for hours upon hours each and everyday.

While trying to figure out a commonality amongst all of these people, one thing came to mind: the shape of their spines. They all seemed to strut with a “regal posture”. Their spines were quite different than those of Americans. When looking at a typical American spine from the side, it is shaped like the letter S, curving at the top, and back again at the bottom. In those who do not have back pain, Gokhale did not see those two big curves; she saw a J-shaped spine. She explains, “The S-shape is actually not natural”.

As Gokhale worked to get her back into the J-shape, like the back of a Greek statue, her back-pain gradually subsided. After helping herself, she realized that she could help others. She wrote a book and has helped people such as Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube. Although her practices have not been clinically proven to work, several doctors who claim that her practices have helped innumerable amounts of people recommend her.

Here are Esther Gokhale’s Five Tips For Better Posture And Less Back Pain:

Try these exercises while you’re working at your desk, sitting at the dinner table or walking around, Esther Gokhale recommends.

  1. Do a shoulder roll: Americans tend to scrunch their shoulders forward, so our arms are in front of our bodies. That’s not how people in indigenous cultures carry their arms, Gokhale says. To fix that, gently pull your shoulders up, push them back and then let them drop — like a shoulder roll. Now you’re arms should dangle by your side, with your thumbs pointing out. “This is the way all your ancestors parked their shoulders,” she says. “This is a natural architecture for our species.”
  2. Lengthen your spine: Adding extra length to your spine is easy, Gokhale says. Being careful not to arch your back, take a deep breath in and grow tall. Then maintain that height as you exhale. Repeat: Breathe in, grow even taller and maintain that new height as you exhale. “It takes some effort, but it really strengthens your abdominal muscles,” Gokhale says.
  3. Squeeze, squeeze your glute muscles when you walk: In many indigenous cultures, people squeeze their gluteus medius muscles every time they take a step. That’s one reason they have such shapely buttocks muscles that support their lower backs. Gokhale says you can start developing the same type of derrière by tightening the buttocks muscles when you take each step. “The gluteus medius is the one you’re after here. It’s the one high up on your bum,” Gokhale says. “It’s the muscle that keeps you perky, at any age.”
  4. Don’t put your chin up: Instead, add length to your neck by taking a lightweight object, like a bean bag or folded washcloth, and balance it on the top of your crown. Try to push your head against the object. “This will lengthen the back of your neck and allow your chin to angle down — not in an exaggerated way, but in a relaxed manner,” Gokhale says.
  5. Don’t sit up straight! “That’s just arching your back and getting you into all sorts of trouble,” Gokhale says. Instead do a shoulder roll to open up the chest and take a deep breath to stretch and lengthen the spine.

Why you don’t want a nurse case manager assigned to your workers’ comp case

I’m often asked the above question from a workers’ compensation adjuster or from a nurse case manager (NCM) assigned to one of my workers’ comp claimants after I’ve asked the adjuster or defense counsel to cease sending an NCM to medical appointments with my client.  Why do I do this?  Look at the below note sent by an NCM to the authorized treating physician (ATP) on an accepted workers’ comp claim:

NCM note to Dr

 

The NCM’s name is Kim Williams.  If you can’t make out the language above, she’s telling the patient’s doctor that the patient is “doing everything she can to not have to work” after her surgery.  This is a lie. Continue reading

Did you sustain a back injury at work?

When it comes to back injuries sustained at work, the old saying “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” rings especially true. The pain of a back injury can be debilitating, and it affects everything you do at work and at home.

If you’ve hurt your back in the workplace, you’re not alone. Back injuries are the most frequently reported workplace injury, with more than one million recorded incidents every year. 20% of those back injuries are the result of workplace accidents.

The spine consists of three main sections—the cervical spine, which comprises the neck, the thoracic spine, which stabilizes the mid-back, and the lumbar region, which is the lower back. As Atlanta injury lawyers, we frequently help clients who have sustained workplace injuries to these regions of the spine.

These three regions of the spinal column typically consist of 24 vertebrae, which are separated by spongy discs that allow us to move and re-distribute pressure. These discs are filled with a jelly-like substance that acts as a shock absorber while we perform everyday activities.

With age or injury, the discs that separate each vertebrae begin to degenerate, sometimes resulting in a bulging or herniated disc. When this happens, the soft core of the disc squeezes out or ruptures completely.

Symptoms of Disc Herniation

Depending on where the injury occurs, the symptoms associated with a herniated disc can vary. These symptoms often include:

  • Back spasms
  • Difficulty walking
  • Chronic back pain
  • Sciatica
  • Numbness or muscle weakness in the legs or feet

Causes of Workplace Back Injuries

Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of back injuries in the workplace. However, a herniated disc can also result from carrying heavy objects, excessive bending, ladder accidents, or even car accidents.

Treating Workplace Back Injuries

No matter what caused your back injury, it is crucial that you visit a doctor and have a thorough medical examination, which may include CT scans, MRIS, or discograms. Depending on the nature and severity of your back injury, you may require simple bed rest, physical therapy, or even surgery.

If you’ve suffered a back injury at work, it’s important that you find out how to receive the benefits that you are entitled to as an employee in the state of Georgia. Call the workers’ comp attorneys at Moebes Law at (404) 354-5432 to schedule your initial free consultation.

Elevator Injuries Result in Catastrophic Injuries and Fatalities

Elevator accidents may sound like random events scripted in Hollywood action films, but the startling reality is many people are severely injured by elevators every year. Outdated and ineffective elevator technology is being cited in an increasing number of personal injury cases. Children in particular are frequent victims to catastrophic elevator accidents that often end in fatality.

It’s important to realize that all elevators are not created equal when it comes to safety features. Swing-door elevators found in many homes and smaller buildings are usually not equipped with the infrared sensor technology found on industrial lifts. In an elevator accident, that means the swing-door lift still functions, even if someone is trapped in the outer shaft. The result is a catastrophic and often fatal accident.

Georgia toddler Jacob Helvey was catastrophically injured in a 2010 swing-door elevator accident. Trapped in the elevator shaft, the young boy was crushed for 10 minutes before his family could pry him loose. The incident resulted in a spinal injury and permanent brain damage. Most often, children are the victims of elevator accidents. It’s estimated that residential elevators cause about 1,600 injuries between 2011 and 2012.

The Helvey family filed personal injury lawsuits against their elevator manufacturer, National Wheel-O-Vater, and its corporate parent ThyssenKrupp Access. The case was settled out of court, and ThyssenKrupp Access no longer supplies residential elevators in the United States.

If swing-door elevators are widely acknowledged to have serious design flaws that result in catastrophic accidents, why are they still being produced? First, they are smaller and less expensive than industrial elevators, making them a more appropriate option for residential environments. What’s more, most catastrophic accidents happen in low income urban areas that receive little press coverage. Overall, with lacking governmental safety regulations and elevator companies blaming contractors for incorrect installation, no one is willing to take responsibility.

It’s upsetting to think that something as innocuous as an elevator could be directly responsible for more than 10 child fatalities and countless catastrophic injuries. If your office or home has an elevator, request maintenance at the first sign of equipment malfunction. Stepping onto an elevator car should never be a gamble with personal injury.

Contact Atlanta personal injury and wrongful death attorney Michael Moebes at (404) 354-5432 for legal questions or concerns.

What Should I Do If I Injure My Back Over the Holidays?

Tips for Dealing with Holiday-Related Back Injuries

 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a whopping 50,000 people sustain winter-related back injuries every year. Not unsurprisingly, at least 5,800 of those injuries can be traced back to holiday decorating.

What should you do if you are one of the unfortunate 50,000 people who sustained a back injury during a holiday shopping frenzy, a fateful decorating spree, or an impromptu game of touch football? Here are a few tips for handling holiday back injuries and get back to on your feet before you can say “Kris Kringle.”

Number 1: Rest

 Immediately after you’ve sustained a holiday-related back injury, it’s important to rest. This might be a little uncomfortable at first, but it’s the one of the best ways to alleviate muscle pain. Back pain experts recommend lying down on your back, or comfortably on your side.

Number 2: Ice & Compression

 Icing the affected area will help reduce pain and swelling, which speeds the healing process. Light compression, such as an elastic bandage, will provide back support, reduce inflammation, and help you recover more quickly.

Number 3: Over-the-Counter Anti-Inflammatories

 Common anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen, can help reduce the pain and swelling that accompanies back injuries. (Of course, make sure that you don’t have any pre-existing medical conditions that prevent you from taking these medications.)

Number 4: See a Healthcare Specialist

 Home remedies will do in a pinch, but it is still important to see a back pain specialist as soon as possible. With a proper diagnosis, you can begin the appropriate treatment, which may include physical therapy or massage.

Most importantly, never ignore your back pain after an injury or fall. Without proper care and treatment, what starts as a “simple” back pain injury can easily become a far more debilitating condition. At my Atlanta-based practice, I’ve seen a number of cases of minor back pain that developed into chronic injury without medical attention.

If you’ve suffered a back injury at work or have legal concerns, please contact Moebes Law at (404) 354-5432.

The information presented here is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of professional medical care.

What shoud I do if sustain an injury at my job in Georgia?

If you have never experienced an on-the-job injury before, you should be aware of what to do before an incident, so that you are able to protect your rights should something occur. I’ve put together a short (but important!) list of things Georgia employees should know:

Take Notes
You should do this quickly, while events are still fresh in your mind. Jot down significant details like the time, the surroundings, the names of any witnesses, any details that led to your accident, and how the accident occurred. If company safety or equipment violations are at play, be sure to note those as well. Alternately –and since we live in a tech-friendly world– you could make a brief video or voice recording of your recollections about the incident (if you choose to do this, however, don’t surrender this to anyone; it should only exist as a point of reference for yourself).

Report It
If your injury is not life-threatening, you need to report it to your immediate supervisor or union representative immediately. There are forms they are required to file, and they will need to take a report about what happened to cause your injury.

If your injuries are life-threatening, go to the closest emergency room right away. When you are doing hospital paperwork, be sure to tell the staff that your injury occurred in the workplace. They have special procedures in place for workers’ compensation injuries.

Seek Treatment
When dealing with a workplace injury, you need to be seen in an E.R. or by a company-approved workers’ comp doctor, depending on the severity of your injury and the immediacy of your need for care.

If your injury is severe, you should report to an emergency room, and notify your supervisor as soon afterward as you are able to do so. If your injury is not severe, your employer will refer you to a workers’ compensation doctor. You must see the provider you are referred to.

Get Documentation
Get a copy of all documents you sign and forms you fill out in relation to your injury. Keep them together in a safe place in case you need them for reference later on. Keep records on-hand of every appointment and prescription.

Follow Instructions
This is one instance where you do not want to be a rebel. You need to follow the doctor’s instructions to the letter. If you are told to stay out of work, stay out of work. If you are told to report to work, report to work. Do not miss scheduled appointments with doctors or therapists. Take any medications prescribed to you according to physician instructions. Do your physical therapy faithfully, and limit activities as directed. This can all be summed up by the phrase– “Be a good patient!”

Say No
If your workers’ compensation doctor requires you to stay out of work or orders that you can only perform light duty tasks on the job, it is against the law for an employer to threaten your employment or potential disability benefits. They cannot legally use your workplace injury to discriminate against you. Refuse anything that goes against doctor’s orders. You have the law on your side, no matter what your employer says.

Get Legal Counsel
Every injured Georgia worker can benefit from a consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Atlanta workers’ comp lawyers from Moebes Law, LLC are well-versed in Georgia law and can assist you in determining your best course of action with regard to your disability benefits. They work closely with a team of respected Georgia medical professionals to ensure the highest quality of care for their workers’ compensation clients.

While I hope that you never have to put these tips to use, please bookmark them and review them periodically so that you are prepared.

What’s the difference between acute and overuse workplace injuries to shoulders and knees?

We’ve covered quite a few injuries now in the ongoing series of articles about the kinds of injuries that our practice handles for workers’ compensation clients. Today I’d like to discuss knee and shoulder injuries. Obviously, those joints are crucial to any physical activity, work or otherwise. Simply put, without healthy knees and shoulders, the arms and legs aren’t getting much done.

Injuries to the shoulders and knees are common workplace occurrences, especially if the work is physically demanding. The level of pain and the treatment necessary for both joints vary widely, so it is important to have a clear understanding of the issue with which you are dealing and get appropriate medical attention.

Injuries to these major joints fall into two categories: acute injures and injuries from overuse.

Acute injuries are those that occur suddenly, like from an impact or an accident. Acute injuries to the knees and shoulders could be caused by direct blows, falls, or abnormal twisting or bending. These types of injuries are the most common to the knees and shoulders.

Acute injuries to the knee include:

  • Sprained or strained ligaments or tendons (as discussed in my article on sprains and strains)
  • Torn meniscus, which cushions the knee joint
  • Torn ACL or MCL, which is the most common
  • Fracture
  • Dislocation, which could be very serious, requiring immediate medical attention

Acute injuries to the shoulder include:

  • Bruises (contusions)
  • Sprained or strained muscles, ligaments or tendons
  • Brachial Plexus Neuropathy (injured nerves)
  • Separation, which is when the ligaments connecting the clavicle (collarbone) to the acromion (shoulder blade) are torn
  • Torn rotator cuff, which is when one or more of the four tendons that cover the shoulder joint are damaged
  • Fracture
  • Subluxation or dislocation, which when the bones are pushed or pulled out of position

The results of these injuries can include pain, bruising, swelling, and damaged or pinched blood vessels or nerves while possibly leaving the area weak, numb, cold, tingling, pale or blue. Clearly, even when the exact cause of the injury is known, there are many possible outcomes with an acute injury so a medical evaluation is essential. An injury left untreated can often lead to long-term complications.

The other type of knee and shoulder injury often associated with the workplace is that of overuse. Repetitive movements and prolonged stress can put too much pressure on the joints and surrounding tissue. In the case of overuse injuries there isn’t usually a single moment that you remember the injury happening as the symptoms come on gradually.

Overuse knee injuries include:

  • Bursitis, which is inflammation of the small sacs of fluid that provide the knee with cushioning
  • Tendinitis or tendonosis, which is inflammation of or small tears in the tendons
  • Plica Syndrome is a thickening or folding of the ligaments
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome causes pain in the front of the knee
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome is the inflammation of the tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh

Overuse injuries of the shoulder include:

  • Bursitis
  • Tendonitis or tendonosis
  • Strained muscles
  • Frozen shoulder, which simply implies limited movement
  • Impingement Syndrome, which is related to bursitis and rotator cuff tendonitis

These types of injuries present with a wide variety of symptoms and, similar to the acute injuries, require a professional medical diagnosis to ensure that they don’t remain as lingering issues. An evaluation generally consists of a physical examination coupled with an x-ray or MRI.

The treatment can be as simple as rest or as serious as surgery, but regardless of severity, issues with these two major joints should not go unattended. If you aren’t sure if your knee or shoulder injury falls under the responsibility of your employer contact a knowledgeable Atlanta worker’s compensation lawyer today.