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TBI: A disability, but victims often still want to work, part 1

A person who suffers from a traumatic brain injury will face various hurdles in his or her life. Simple daily tasks might become difficult or impossible. They might even experience changes in their behavior. Getting good sleep can become difficult. Despite the many struggles faced by TBI victims, the workforce might still be a draw or necessity for them.

Just as other men and women with different disabilities have workplace rights, so do those people who are living with the effects of a TBI. The Mayo Clinic offers information, advice and clarification regarding the employment of people with TBIs.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "Most people of working age want to work, including employees with brain injuries. Work provides a sense of productivity, meaningfulness, income and social connection." This desire or need becomes difficult when a worker's old job functions become harder to perform. 

Depending on the situation, an employer could be legally expected to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee with a TBI. First, let's list some cognitive impairments often associated with the kind of injury that could make certain work tasks difficult:

Memory: A worker might have a hard time remembering what tasks to complete, in what order, etc. He or she also might have to work harder or in a special way in order to remember new information.

To accommodate that hardship, an employer could encourage detailed note-keeping and provide lists for the worker to refer to on a routine basis. Reasonable accommodations can be made.

Focus: A worker could become easily distracted and be unable to effectively multi-task. Therefore, an employer should encourage that the worker take on one task at a time. Distractions in the environment could also be mitigated in order to help an employee with a TBI focus on work rather than office noise and clutter. 

There are more reasons why someone living and working with a TBI might need support at his or her place of work. A next post will explain more of the significant impacts of a brain injury and how the injury is not only life-changing, but game-changing at work.

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