Returnto Work after Traumatic Brain Injury
Pictureyourself living a normal life with a baby on the way. You leave GRCCheading home on the highway and you find yourself inside a ditch. Youare mentally confused and unaware of your surroundings. A few hourslater you find yourself in a hospital bed. Your closest friends andfamily are by your side, sobbing and struggling to find the rightwords to say. Subsequently, you noticed you are hooked up to IVmachines. What would you do? Now you are faced with the biases ofsociety. In this essay, I will argue that employers must makeadjustments in their operations to enable employees return to workafter traumatic brain injury.
Admittedly,there are biases about individuals who have suffered from a TraumaticBrain Injury. Society may even assume that a person with a traumaticbrain injury is no longer qualified to return to work and unable todo so. A large number of T.B.I. patients are able to function well inthe work place, even though they have cognitive and physicaldisabilities. Returning to work is a crucial goal of rehabilitationprocedures (Saltychev1516).Employment not only provides workers with financial security but alsosupports various aspects of social and psychological health.
Traumaticbrain injury can affect people differently depending on the severityof the affliction. In many instances, TBI causes cognitive, physical,and social disabilities. Focused rehabilitation efforts can enablepeople to return to their former jobs or tailor their skills toacquire new employment. People with disabilities are stigmatized suchthat they consider themselves incapable of functioning in normalsociety. Some people with a T.B.I. may have a physical disabilityalthough their cognitive abilities remain intact. However, othersmay have both cognitive dysfunction and minimal physical limitations.There are a lot of people in our country and other countries thatsuffers from traumatic brain injury.
GaleCengage Learning reported that at least “300,000 people sustainmild or severe brain injury’s yearly” (Robinson et al. 2). Theseinjuries are often sustained during sporting activities. The UKreported that more than 1.4 million people in their country sustaintraumatic brain injury. Furthermore, the report shows “41% ofpeople with traumatic brain injury return to work in less than one totwo years” (Radford et al. 1). This rate is considerably highbecause of the various physical, occupational and, vocationalrehabilitations they receive.
TracyMorgan, a famous actor and comedian, was involved in a severe caraccident that left him in a comma for about two weeks (Voreacos).He received several months of intensive rehabilitation services fortraumatic brain injury, broken bones, and face fractures. There wererumors about him not being able to return to work because he was notthe same person as before and how he struggled with memory loss(Petit). In some interviews he talked about the mental challenges hefaced during this time. Tracy was back to work in less than two yearsand returned to his comedic profession (Petit). Many people tuned into his first appearance on television to see if his personality wasnegatively affected. Plenty of skeptics had doubted whether he couldmake a successful return to comedy and television. Consequently,rehabilitation played an important role in Tracy Morgan returningback to work.
Notably,most people recovered quickly after suffering a traumatic braininjury. Hence, they were able to resume their everyday activitieswithin a short period (Wäljaset al.443). Some people were exposed to prolonged effects of TBI. Suchpeople customarily struggled to return to their work assignments.Post-injury cognitive impairment and loss of consciousness haveprevented many employees from fulfilling their obligations (Wäljaset al.443). The rates at which workers return to work depend on severalfactors. For example, older employees faced more obstacles thanyounger workers. Some people also suffered multiple bodily injuriesduring the occurrence of TBI (Wäljaset al.443). Hence, it was necessary for these workers to undergo extensivetreatment before they could qualify to resume their work.Intracranial abnormality at the day of injury could make it harderfor some people to return to work (Wäljaset al.443). Individuals with fewer cranial injuries suffered more adverseoutcomes than those with more severe injuries. In addition, aperson’s level of fatigue could determine their readiness to returnto work. Well-rested workers could muster the needed strength toperform work duties. On the other hand, tired workers struggled toovercome their discomfort.
Rehabilitationcan assist the person with TBI with reacquiring mental and physicalskills they have lost, but also to develop adaptations for theabilities that do not return. Once a person develops cognitive issuesthey may have problems with speech, short or long term memory loss,and migraine headaches (Radford et al. 5). Some of these problems canbe fixed, for memory loss the person can use a daily planner or somesort of tool to write down everything they did that day and they canalso write their plans down for the following day. This helps keepthem on task at work and helps with daily living. Speech therapyhelps with recognition of words and accents (Radford et al. 6).Vocational rehabilitation services do assessments to recognize areasthe person should work on before returning to work full time. Mostdoctors do not send the patient back to work full time since thefirst few months are meant for intensive rehabilitation. They takethe person off of work completely and gradually allow them to returnto work part-time. Usually the person will have some restrictionswith returning to work and employers will accommodate as long as theperson fits the company’s disability guidelines.
Thedisability act protects disabled people from being the target ofdiscrimination by preventing the employer from treating and targetingemployees with debilities (Bubar). Some people who suffer fromphysical disabilities due to TBI receive mobility accommodations.This allows the person more ability to complete the job requirement.If the person was already employed through a company sometimes theperson is moved to a different department within the company to keeptheir jobs. People with TBI may find it difficult or overwhelming toreturn to work. In this regard, they must know the extent of servicesavailable. Patients must also be educated on how to respond tounlawful discrimination. It may be proper to explain one’ssituation to the employer and request for special consideration(Bubar). Afflicted individuals must learn about the accommodationswhich they are to receive. Hence, they can request their employers toprovide the required resources.
Thebrain is the most complex organ and so it takes longer to heal thanany other part of the body. It is required that a person with TBIreceives a lot of rest because it helps the brain heal faster. Someof the adjustments or accommodations that can be made includemodified equipment, job restructuring, reassignment, and modifiedwork schedules (Bubar). Rest breaks can be implemented to preventfatigue and stimulus overload. Training materials should be providedin Braille or other simplified languages (Bubar). Such resources willhelp the individual to learn and integrate new skills. Readers andinterpreters could also help the person to understand their jobassignments. Some computer programs can help an employee to retainhis or her focus on upcoming deadlines (Bubar). Returning workersshould be relieved of the responsibility to answer phones. In thisrespect, tape recorders can be used to communicate important messageswhenever the employee struggles to speak clearly. Employees should beprovided with secluded work places to help them concentrate on theirassignments (Bubar). These measures can help returning workers toenhance their productivity.
Indeed,employers must make certain accommodations to benefit personsreturning to work after traumatic brain injury. Work schedules shouldbe modified to enable the person to attend continuous therapysessions. Duties and assignments could also be shared and delegatedto other workers to lessen the burden on returning employees.Furthermore, rest breaks can help workers to regain their strength.Secluded work places allow employees to focus fully on theirassignments. In addition, job restructuring can protect the firm fromliabilities. Technological aids such as computer programs, taperecorders, readers, and interpreters can reduce the mental strainfaced by employees returning to work after TBI. It is important forsuch workers to learn of the legal statutes enacted for their sake.Consequently, they can protect themselves from exploitation.
Bubar,Kathy. "Five Things You Should Know When Returning to Work afterTraumatic Brain Injury." BrainInjury Association of New York State.N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
Petit,Stephanie. "Tracy Morgan Talks Accident Recovery and SaturdayNight Live Return." PEOPLE.com.Time Inc, 06 Sept. 2016. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.
Radford,Kathryn, et al. "Facilitating Return to Work through EarlySpecialist Health-based Interventions." N.p., 17 June 2015. Web.28 Mar. 2017.
Robinson,Richard, et al. "Concussion." GALECENGAGE Learning.N.p., 2015. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
Saltychev,Mikhail, et al. "Return to work after traumatic brain injury:Systematic review." BrainInjury27.13-14 (2013): 1516-1527.
Voreacos,David. "Tracy Morgan Crash Left Him in Coma With Bleeding:Lawyer." Bloomberg.com.Bloomberg, 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.
Wäljas,Minna, et al. "Return to work following mild traumatic braininjury." TheJournal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation29.5 (2014): 443-450.
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