Our friend and client Ernest K. worked for many years as a side seamer at a large welding company in Urbana, Ohio, that specializes in manufacturing tanks and reservoirs for heavy vehicle air brake systems. This is dangerous work involving hydraulic presses and lots of moving pieces. He was cutting steel plates when a nearby stack fell, crushing his left hand and arm.
Following emergency surgery, he actually returned to work through 2005 but developed complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). This rendered his arm useless. Surgeons implanted a spinal stimulator to mask the pain signals traveling to the brain. Sadly, even after two revisions of the initial implant and extensive treatment at the Cleveland Clinic, Ernest’s symptoms raged on. CRPS is a particular nefarious condition. Symptoms include continuous burning, throbbing pain, sensitivity to touch or cold, skin temperature alternating between sweaty and cold, and muscle weakness and atrophy. Spray from a shower and clothing touching the affected area causes extreme pain. Many aspects of your life change as the pain can be all-consuming and treatment is lifelong. And, though the condition develops in one part of the body, it typically spreads to other areas.
Ultimately, Ernest’s loss of use of his left arm was recognized by the Industrial Commission. Also, despite several attempts at rehabilitation, the Commission finally acknowledged that Ernest’s pain and use of only one arm made him unable to perform sustained work, and he was granted permanent total disability.
Obviously, this is a devastating injury at any time, let alone at 42 years old. Ernest inspires me as he continues to live his life and push through his limitations. I am honored to have helped take money worries off his plate.