Are you ready to return to work after a TBI?

One of the harder transitions for those recovering from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) is returning to work. This is especially true when the TBI occurred on the job.

Returning to work after TBIs can boost confidence

While there are many devastating repercussions from a TBI, perhaps the most insidious may be erosion of the self-confidence of the sufferers. Because brain injuries can cause damage to all of the body's organ systems, TBI patients must adjust to and accommodate many unwanted lifestyle changes.

One step toward recouping one's former life after a TBI is returning to work. However, the injuries patients suffer can sometimes make the transition a bit rocky. If you suffered an employment-related TBI and are ready to re-enter the workforce, you may find thefollowing tips to be helpful.

  • Let your doctor guide your return to work. He or she can help you determine when you should head back to work and whether to return as part- or full-time based on your recovery status. Doctors can also advocate for their patients with the patients' employers during negotiations on telecommuting, accessing support services, etc.
  • Seek union assistance. Members of the New York City building trade unions typically have strong representation and numerous resources to use during the periods of recovery and returning to the workforce.
  • Learn the law. Federal laws require employers to offer disabled workers certain reasonable accommodations for re-employment.
  • Know your company's policies. Understand those policies for employee rehabilitation after at-work injuries and returning to work. Determine what resources are available to assist you in this transition.
  • Enlist help from all sources. Some of the most successful transitions occur when the injured worker's friends, family members and co-workers participate in the TBI patient's return to work.
  • Educate your employer. Make sure that managers and supervisors understand what accommodations you will need to be productive and work efficiently.

Keep expectations reasonable

One sure way to guarantee failure when attempting to return to work is to promise the moon and assume that you will be able to immediately produce at pre-injury capacity. Workers who fail to factor in their need for accommodations can be demoralized when they fail to hit former benchmarks.

Often, gradually returning to work is the better choice than jumping in feet first. Do you struggle with getting together in the morning or get anxious during lengthy traffic jams on the commute? Ease in with half-days that begin at noon, or negotiate for a two-hour later starting time, e.g. 10 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. That way, you won't be as frazzled and can work during your peak proficiency periods.

Don't push yourself

An injured brain takes a long time to heal. Pushing yourself too hard can negatively impact your recovery and wind up setting you back instead. If you are not ready to resume working, you may want to learn about your options for pursuing compensation for your on-the-job TBI.

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