Even the most common injuries can range in severity depending on the individual who gets hurt and the circumstances. Injuries that one person could recover from quickly could leave someone else unable to work for a prolonged period of time.
Similarly, an injury that might heal cleanly and safely in most cases, like a broken bone, can occasionally also lead to disabling injuries. The discrepancy in the severity of injuries and the effects that they have on a person's livelihood and daily life are one of many reasons why disability decisions get made on an individual basis, not based on a diagnosis.
When it comes to broken bones, permanent disability is likely only an option in the case of irreparable fractures or a secondary condition that develops. In some cases, people can overcome the symptoms associated with a bad break. In others, it can have a permanent impact.
Not all fractures are clean and simple breaks
Broken bones are very different from one another. Even two people of the same age, gender and overall health could have different experiences breaking the same bone in a similar manner.
Some fractures are simple and clean. They only require that a doctor sets them properly and that the patient allows the area to rest. Within anywhere from four to 12 weeks, the person with the broken bone will typically heal well enough to begin physical therapy. That therapy helps ensure that the individual retains both strength and range of motion in the area affected by the fracture.
Some fractures are much more difficult to treat and recover from. Crushing injuries can result in multiple breaks in the same bone. In extreme cases, the bone may be so badly broken that doctors need to insert metal rods or other medical devices to reinforce the affected area. Sometimes, these fractures can have a permanent effect on the use of the limb or extremity impacted. Surgery and ongoing care may be necessary in extreme cases.
If the results of the broken bone impact someone's ability to care for themselves or continue working, those issues may provide a valid reason to seek disability for workers' compensation benefits.
Secondary medical conditions can also develop after a broken bone
While most people with broken bones heal quickly and cleanly, sometimes the healing process is complicated. Some individuals may develop a progressive disorder of the nerves in the affected area known as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
This condition will worsen as the tissue heals and can cause permanent weakness and pain. Those who develop CRPS while a bone heals could have grounds to seek disability benefits, especially because the symptoms of CRPS are often debilitating.
Seeking adequate medical care and complying with recommendations for therapy and rest are important to healing after a fracture. For some individuals, the long-term consequences may include an inability to live independently or retain a job. These individuals may be able to connect with compensation to help them offset the consequences of their injury.