What determines the cost of soft tissue claims? Severity of injury is certainly one of the factors. But ultimately the injured employee is the one in control. And the more severe the subjective complaints are, the higher the severity and, thus, the cost to you.
Have you ever noticed something that appears to be the same injury with significantly different outcomes in two different situations? There are many factors in play here but the biggest is likely perception. If someone hates their job, is stressed, and has a lot of fear about what is going on with their body gets injured in a bad work relationship, it can all add up to being a very “bad” and costly injury. If they are happy, healthy, and engaged this is far less likely to turn into a problematic injury. This perception from the employee makes all the difference.
A great analogy can be found in the hundreds of demolition derbies found at state fairgrounds around the country. These drivers are getting into dramatic car crashes on a regular basis… for fun. They must have horrible neck pain with all that crashing, right? A study published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation had some interesting findings: Forty drivers participated in the study with an average of 30 career events and had an average of 52 car collisions per event. That’s over 1,500 car wrecks at an average of 26 miles per hour per collision. Thirty-seven drivers reported no chronic neck pain. Two had pain for more than 3 months, and only one had pain that lasted more than a year. That’s an astounding 93% of participants with no chronic neck pain at all—even though they had equivalent to over 1,500 car wrecks in their career. Their perception of what was occurring to their body and how they physically felt was much different than one would assume based on the violent nature of many of these events.
The next time an employee has an injury, just remember that perception matters—sometimes even more so than the injury itself.