New tool helps working adults spot and manage concussions

Construction workers.

British Columbians returning to work after a concussion now have access to new online resources and courses that help them navigate their injury and offer guidance for a safe return to work.

The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) for Workers and Workplaces is a free resource developed by researchers at the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit (BCIRPU). While there is a misconception that concussions only happen to athletes, according to WorkSafeBC concussion was the third most reported type of serious injury claim in 2016. CATT is intended to be used by people who experience concussion in their everyday lives, such as from falling off a ladder at a worksite, tripping while walking the dog, or getting into a car crash.

“Every concussion experience is unique. Concussions can be sustained in a variety of ways and how an individual recovers is very different from person to person, regardless of the intensity of the impact,” says Dr. Shelina Babul, associate director of the BCIRPU and clinical associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia. “The tool helps the individual recognize a concussion and outlines a step-by-step strategy to help them safely work toward resuming full duties. This will also help employers support their employees throughout the return to work process and prevent further injury.”

CATT for Workers and Workplaces consists of free online resources including an e-learning course and associated materials that workers, their families, and workplaces can use to navigate the return to work process after sustaining a concussion such as a medical clearance letter and an incident report form if the injury happened at work. CATT is a series of online modules and resources aimed at improving concussion recognition, response, diagnosis, management, and prevention.

Lori Stewart has had concussions both as an athlete and as a film and TV stunt performer in Vancouver.

“I wish that I had something like CATT to help me recover from my concussions. No one had any tools back then to help you get better. The sports world has done so much to bring awareness to this issue and carrying this over to the workplace is really the next logical step,” she says. “Some of my colleagues have suffered long-term effects from not managing their concussions properly and going back to work before they have healed. I’m simply one of the lucky ones.”

A concussion is a form of brain injury caused by a hard blow or jolt to the head, neck, or body. Any force that causes the brain to move quickly inside the skull has the potential to cause a concussion. The leading causes of concussion in working age adults are falls, motor vehicle crashes, and sport and recreational activities.

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