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Could head injury, toxic exposure lead to Parkinson's disease?

Unlike falling and breaking a bone or injuring on the job, developing an illness due to an incident at work may happen much more gradually. As such, it's important for employees to keep clear records and be vigilant even after a minor workplace accident. What may seem like a minor ache or pain today can become something much more serious down the road.

According to a recent study, head injuries and exposure to pesticides have been linked to Parkinson's disease, a devastating degenerative condition that impacts motor skills. Workers who have sustained a serious head injury or have spent time working with pesticides, perhaps without proper safety precautions, may have to be on the lookout for symptoms of this illness.

Researchers who conducted this study indicate, however, that they have not necessarily found a causative link between these two events and Parkinson's. Rather, they surveyed a number of people living with Parkinson's and found that 12 percent of them had been rendered unconscious by a head injury at some point in their life and nearly 50 percent had been exposed to paraquat, a commonly-used pesticide.

The doctors responsible for the study went on to say that even though this is just a theory, it's another reminder that a traumatic head or brain injury can have more serious side effects down the road.

When someone is exposed to a chemical or sustains a seemingly meaningless injury on the job, it's important not to take these kinds of incidents too lightly. If it seems as though a person's health is deteriorating and an illness is developing, it may be worthwhile to seek medical attention to determine if a work-related incident has morphed into a more serious illness. At this point, it may be beneficial to see if workers' compensation benefits are available.

Source: Reuters, "Head injury, pesticides tied to Parkinson's disease," Genevra Pittman, Nov. 13, 2012

  • Our firm has experience helping North Carolina employees sort through the complicated details of medical conditions and state workers' compensation laws. To learn more, please visit our Greensboro workers' compensation page.

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