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Traumatic Brain Injury - Returning To Work

A traumatic brain injury occurs when there is damage to brain tissue following a blow to the head, a car accident, a fall or any type of wound. It can also occur without a direct blow to the head such as a severe extension/hyperextension injury to the neck causing the head to slam back and forth causing the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. This type of rapid movement can also cause damage to brain tissue. Suffering from a traumatic brain injury can present multiple barriers to employment.

During the recovery from the traumatic brain injury, symptoms must be assessed regarding headaches, sleep disorders, daytime fatigue, thinking skills (including memory concentration and multitasking), medication needs and also mobility and transportation needs. Any continuing symptoms should be addressed by the treating physician in order to make certain the recovery is sufficient to allow employment.

During the course of recovery it is extremely important to go through therapy for continuing symptoms. This would include both cognitive therapy in terms of memory, concentration and multitasking and physical therapy in terms of helping with strength and pain.

In addition to working with the treating physician and various therapists, it is important to develop sufficient endurance by participating in exercise programs.

When ready to become re-employed, documentation should be obtained from both the cognitive therapist and physical therapist that would indicate any possible restrictions or needs in the work place.

Thereafter, each state has its own Brain Injury Association and this can be obtained by going to www.biausa.org/state-affiliates.htm . This will give you the local Brain Injury Association for your state. In Rhode Island we have the Brain Injury Association of Rhode Island and the site is www.biausa.org/ri/ . The local state Brain Injury Association can help you in seeking employment by offering suggestions.

In addition, each state has a vocational rehabilitation program that the local state Brain Injury Association can connect you with.

In Rhode Island we have the Department of Human Services, Office of Rehabilitation Services located at www.ors.ri.gov/ . This site has all of the state rehabilitation offices and can assist a traumatic brain injury victim in becoming employed. They will assist in retraining, on the job training, testing, work simulation and many other services.

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