Nearly one-third of all brain injuries occur in adults of working age who were employed before their injury. You may have clients who fit this description. Most want to return to work, but if and when they do depends on the severity of the injury, what parts of the brain were impacted, and the progress of rehabilitation.
Many people view their job as part of their identity and independence. Almost half of survivors under age 65 are able to return to the workforce, either in full- or part-time roles. In this article, we explore the benefits of returning to work, the factors that improve the chances of workplace re-entry, and how Constant Therapy fits neatly into a rehab plan whose goal is to return survivors to work. Finally, we provide a list of useful resources to help survivors address return-to-work issues.
Studies have shown that a return to work for brain injury survivors improves overall quality of life and can offset some of the financial issues associated with the injury. Returning to work can also provide focus, help individuals feel productive, add structure to the day and increase social contact.
At a macro level, lost wages and increased dependence on government and other financial support contributes to the yearly cost of brain injury. When survivors are able to return to work, it reduces the cost employers face of lowered productivity due to unfilled positions and hiring and training replacement staff.
When and if a survivor can return to work after brain injury depends on the severity of the injury, the individual’s symptoms, and the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs. Other things being equal, people with more challenges in functioning after brain injury will have more difficulty returning to work.
According to a 2008 study from Mount Sinai Medical Center, you will “find poorer outcomes for those persons who have more severe injuries, experience fatigue, are dependent on others in their activities of daily living, have transportation challenges, who evidence significant emotional issues and poor neuropsychological functioning, such as problems with memory, sequencing, and judgment.”
If an individual’s goal is to return to work, they should work closely with their Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), Occupational Therapist (OT), and/or Physical Therapist (PT) to help set realistic goals and assess progress. The therapy team may also be able to refer the individual to a vocational rehabilitation team that can help further prepare them for returning to work. It’s also possible that survivors may not be able to return to the same job with the same responsibilities if their abilities have changed. Other options may be available.
What happens when survivors go back to work before they are ready? Studies show that inadequate treatment, inadequate rehabilitation, and failure to fully prepare the individual and employer are the biggest factors for unsuccessful attempts to return to work. And unfortunately, early and repeated job failures can have an unwanted emotional or psychological impact.
Research has found support for these post-injury service elements in helping individuals get back to work:
There is substantial evidence supporting the effectiveness of cognitive, speech, and language therapy for people recovering from a brain injury. In this form of therapy, skilled clinicians provide therapeutic activities intended to improve function or train compensatory strategies to manage symptoms. An individual’s therapy program is tailored to their specific goals and may target a variety of skills such as word retrieval, comprehension, paying attention, memory, problem solving, or planning.
Enter Constant Therapy.
Our evidenced-based mobile app can provide the cognitive, speech and language rehab that survivors of brain injury need to get back to work. Constant Therapy uses artificial intelligence and data analytics to deliver each user a personalized brain exercise program that targets areas like memory, attention, problem solving, math, language, reading, writing and many other skills needed to function well at work.
For individuals who are rehabilitating, Constant Therapy provides:
For Payers or Providers, Constant Therapy:
As individuals move through their rehab program and get closer to returning to work, these questions should be asked together with the clinician, case manager, patient, and caregiver. Answers to these questions can help determine the IF, WHEN and HOW decisions regarding returning to work.
Finally, we’ve researched the most helpful resources for those thinking about getting back to work. Consider providing this list to clients and caregivers.