Acquired Brain Injury
With a brain injury, you are faced with numerous challenges as you reestablish your life post-injury. One of these challenges may be the return to work, especially when you are dealing with cognitive deficits or behavioral deficits.
Work is an achievable goal for many individuals after a brain injury, but it may take time and effort to find the right niche where you feel appreciated and proud of a job well done.
Barriers to Return to Work
The lack of understanding about brain injury may cause you frustration in employment.
Because brain injury is not an observable condition, many people will not understand the impairment you are experiencing, especially if you are able to walk and do not have physical impairments.
The fact that your cognitive deficits are unseen may result in unreasonably high expectations from those around you. Your coworkers, or even your boss, may have difficulty understanding your need for a quiet work environment, your need for rest periods, or the need for additional time to accomplish a job duty.
People with motor impairment may experience less difficulty in getting people to understand the extent of their injury. In general, the public has better understanding of "physical disabilities."
Following a brain injury, you may experience cognitive deficits that make employment a challenge. These include impairments to:
- problem solving skills,
- organization skills,
- visual perception, and
- language processing.
Such impairments present major barriers to employment. Before the injury, these abilities were taken for granted, and you could easily accommodate the day to day activities that occur in most jobs.
Cognitive deficits are probably the most troublesome consequence of brain injury. They force you to work very differently than you did prior to the injury. Cognitive problems may prevent you from feeling that you can return to work.
Working with a memory specialist or job coach might give you the assistance you need. They may be able to teach you strategies to improve your memory, accommodate or reduce distractions, and structure your work routine to minimize cognitive challenges.
Behavioral deficits may be difficult to manage in an employment setting. Brain injury can lead to difficulty in behavioral control or social settings. For example, working with others day after day in a stressful setting may be more difficult for you now.
Behavior caused by the injury might be construed by others as "rude" or "inappropriate." To educate those around you, discuss how the brain injury affects your behavior. Such discussions can make your working environment more productive.