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Returning to work after a TBI

To most in New Haven, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one that either kills the brain injury victim or leaves him or her in a persistent vegetative state. Yet, according to the Report to Congress on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 75 percent of the over 2 million TBIs reported in the U.S. every year could be classified as mild. While the effects of a mild TBI may often appear to be temporary, they can continue to hamper a victim for the rest of their lives.

Part of successfully dealing with the effects of a TBI is being able to resume one’s daily routine. For many, that means returning to work. Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from discriminating against those with a temporary or permanent disability in the hiring, training, or advancement of employment. While no specific language exists in the ADA regarding TBIs, many of the symptoms of a TBI can impair one, to the point of meeting the legal definition of disabled. An open and frank discussion with one’s employer prior to returning to work may help in determining if he or she is still capable of meeting his or her employment expectations. 

Preparing one’s work space to accommodate the impairments resulting from his or her TBI may help in transitioning back into the workplace. This can include:

  • Creating visual aids to help remember meetings, important documents, and work deadlines
  • Carrying recording devices into meetings and training sessions
  • Increasing natural lighting to help with potential vision problems and headaches

Focusing on working with the issues imposed by a TBI may be the key for many to successfully resuming their careers and other regular activities. 

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