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Traumatic Brain Injury - Can I Return to Work?

Robert Karns

The ability of a traumatic brain injury victim to return to work must be carefully considered with the traumatic brain injury victim being fully aware of his or her strengths and weaknesses. Although returning to work following a traumatic brain injury is an extremely important goal in terms of getting on with one's life, a careful plan is necessitated.

The traumatic brain injury victim must be aware of problems that can occur when working based upon symptoms of the injury including:

  • Memory Problems - Making learning new material difficult
  • Concentration Problems - Becoming tired and being easily distracted
  • Executive Functioning - Difficulty with planning, problem solving and multitasking
  • Emotional Issues - Not having full control over one's emotions
  • Communication Problems - Difficulty communicating or interacting with people
  • Insight - Difficulty adjusting to work demands

Considerations to make returning to work easier:

  • Attempt to return to work at the right time after discussing returning to work with medical providers and family.
  • Start off small by returning to work part-time, allows you to work within your abilities and slowly increasing demands of the job.
  • Look for work with high structure meaning a job with a regular routine that allows you to use skills you are already familiar with.
  • Educate your employer by explaining to your employer the difficulty with the symptoms that you experience in order that the employer can be educated on your condition.
  • Arrange for feedback by having someone in the workplace that can advise you on how you are doing.
  • Use compensatory strategies including diaries and notebooks.
  • Break any task down into small accomplishable pieces.
  • Be aware of what you have to do at work and organize your time effectively.
  • Get plenty of rest while not working.
  • Try and keep pressure low and avoid feeling of anxiety or agitation.
  • Try to keep distractions and interruptions at a minimum.
  • If it is difficult to return to the workplace, even on a part-time basis, try to get a job doing volunteer work in the beginning to help with adjusting to a workplace.
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