Working with a brain injury: Personal experiences of returning to work following a mild or moderate brain injury
Gill Gilworth, Sophie Eyres, Amy Carey, Bipin B. Bhakta, Alan Tennant
Objective: Most brain injuries occur in people of working age. Individuals with mild or moderate injuries may have unrecognized problems affecting return to work. Previous studies have focused on factors that predict return to work after brain injury. There is limited information about the experiences of individuals returning to work.
Design: Individual interviews explored the work-related expectations and experiences of workers who had sustained mild to moderate brain injury. A sampling frame ensured a spread of participants by age, injury severity and work type.
Methods: Thirty-three interviews were conducted 4–6 months post-injury. Most participants had returned to work. Interviews were transcribed verbatim for thematic analysis.
Results: Key emerging issues for participants were the invisibility of their injury, continuing symptoms affecting their ability to do their job and lack of advice and guidance on returning to work. Return to work support systems were considered to be poorly coordinated and managed.
Conclusion: It is important that healthcare professionals anticipate the vocational rehabilitation needs of patients who have sustained mild to moderate brain injury. These patients may require additional coordinated interventions and specific person-centred information to ensure a successful and, most importantly, a sustained return to work.
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