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Return to work: Is the workplace ready for the TBI survivor?

Occupational therapists work one-on-one with people after a traumatic brain injury in order to recover as much of a pre-injury daily life as possible. Return to work, with its financial, social, and psychological advantages, is one important goal in occupational therapy. However, assessing a patient for the ability to return to work can be challenging-factors such as pre-injury job duties, personality changes, disability, limited self-awareness, or employer understanding can all complicate the issue.

A recent study rated the issues that were most relevant in the decision to return to work. The personal attributes most important to success in the return to work were not especially surprising:

  • Motivation
  • Functional and physical independence
  • Cognitive abilities
  • Use of compensatory strategies and feedback

What made this study different, however, was that they addressed the employer's readiness to provide a safe, sensitive, and financially feasible workplace for the TBI survivor. They found the most relevant workplace environment factors to be the following:

  • Workplace demands (safety, risk assessment)
  • Employer resources and resulting burden (time, money)
  • Risks with information sharing (communication, confidentiality)
  • Financial impacts of Return To Work (litigation outcome, cost of therapy, disability benefits)

Stergiou-Kita M, Yantzi A, & Wan J. The personal and workplace factors relevant to work readiness evaluation following acquired brain injury: Occupational therapists' perceptions. Brain Injury. (July 2010.)


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