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Returning to work after a traumatic brain injury

Life is certainly unpredictable, and no one plans on incurring an injury. People who have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) must recalibrate their lives and careers. In many cases, people with a TBI can’t resume their jobs.

The job was no longer suitable for their ability, interests and energy level. They simply couldn’t perform at the same level on the job, and thus, it is no longer a good fit for the employee nor the employer.

Work is often vital to one’s well being

Most people strive to be a vital, valued and productive member of society. Meaningful work provides immense sense of achievement and pride. So, if a brain injury survivor does not have a job, it often adds to the stress and disappointment. Everyone needs to have a sense of purpose and value in life, and that’s why it’s important for many brain injury survivors to return to work.

TBIs under the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has a broad definition of a disability, so some workers may need fall under this definition while others do not. Workers with TBI symptoms often suffer short-term memory, concentration and stamina impairments. A qualified physician can diagnose and document a traumatic brain injury, so the brain injury survivor is aware of his or her status.

Applying for a job

A person with a traumatic brain injury does not need to disclose or specify their injury or disability when applying for a job. However, many job applications specifically ask if the applicant has a disability, and often it is better to disclose the information or your condition on the application. With this approach, you have the best chances of success if offered the job. Most companies are EEOC compliant, so they cannot discriminate against an applicant’s age, gender, race, religion, physical or mental impairment.

Workplace challenges for TBI workers

Most often workers, who have suffered from a concussion, are able to return to full work duties after completing a suitable rehabilitation and recovery program. Workers, who have suffered a serious brain injury, often find it challenging to perform at a current job because of short-term memory, complex thinking tasks and organizational issues.

A different career and different workplace

People or impaired workers are finding rewarding careers in healthcare, veteran’s service organizations, nonprofits, government agencies and many other businesses. Many workers thrive or have the best chances for success when performing regular daily tasks and routines with few deviations. Another option for people with TBI is job sharing with another employee, and other employee provides support and some direction on the job which can be helpful.

Strategy for employer and coworker

You should work with the employer to let them know what you need to be successful. You should meet with your supervisor or manger regularly, so you as well the employer can make the necessary adjustments for your success. In addition, you should make sure that your current working environment accommodates your impairment, so there are no potential hazards in your work space. A satisfying and fulfilling career is available to those with a TBI, so often the challenge is to look in the right places.

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Ball & Bonholtzer
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