Not everyone goes back to work after a brain injury. For those who do, there are many reasons for wanting to work again. Not only is it a way to earn money, but also a chance to have social contact, structure to the day and stimulation.
Going back to work needs to be carefully timed to make sure you succeed. Your health must be stable and any lingering symptoms must be well controlled (e.g. seizures and headaches). Also, enough time must have passed after your brain injury to make sure that you have had enough time to recover.
Here are some important things to think about and resources to guide your way.
Click on a topic below to jump to that section:
Tips for Returning to Work
Click on the plus symbols beside each topic to learn more:
It is important to prepare yourself for work by maximizing your independence in daily activities such as:
- Managing symptoms such as headaches, sleep problems, fatigue, seizures, anxiety and depression.
- Thinking skills (for example, memory, concentration, multi-tasking, problem solving)
- Personal care activities (grooming, dressing, toileting, bathing)
- Maintaining personal hygiene
- Remembering and being on time for appointments
- Effectively managing your time and activities; organizing and taking part in leisure activities
- Mobility, including getting around in the community
- Managing finances such as budgeting, banking and paying bills
- Taking your medications
- Using strategies to manage memory, thinking, fatigue, communication, emotional and physical changes
- Planning and decision making
- Building your physical and cognitive endurance through recreation, courses and/or volunteer work
- When you are confident that you can handle your daily activities, think about whether your abilities match the requirements of your previous job. Or whether a new job would be better. Will you need to learn some new skills?
- It is usually a good idea to go back to a familiar job and employer. This is because your employer is in the best position to make changes to support your needs at work.
- You may need to consider a different, perhaps less demanding, job or school program in order to succeed at going back to work.
Checklist for Employment
This checklist is one tool to help you assess your readiness for employment. On its own, this checklist cannot determine if are ready to go back to work. If the timing is not right for you to be thinking about employment, then there are some recommendations listed at the end of the checklist.
Instructions: For each topic, check off one box (in Column 1, 2 or 3). Total your checkmarks for each column at the end. Review your answers with a health care professional (such as an occupational therapist, psychologist, counsellor, vocational counsellor, or your doctor). After reviewing your answers in the checklist, you and your health care professional can consider the recommendations at the end of the checklist, to help guide you in your continuing recovery and thinking (or re-thinking) about employment.
Please note: This resource was created by the Vocational Rehab Counselling Service staff at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre. Psychometrics not tested.
If you have private benefits and services (ICBC, WorkSafe BC, work place insurance company) it is helpful to have their employment or rehabilitation specialists help you look at your options and coordinate your return to work .
If you do not have private benefits and services, help is available throughout the Province of BC from government sources.To find the closest employment agency, contact Enquiry BC at:
Vancouver/Lower Mainland: 604-660-2421
Elsewhere in BC: 1–800-663-7867
Email Address: EnquiryBC@nullgov.bc.ca
Work place accommodations and adaptations need to be identified, planned for and negotiated with your employer, insurance provider or employment agency prior to returning to work. Accommodations and adaptations can make the difference between a successful or failed attempt to go back to work.
Some examples of accommodation and adaptations:
- Developing cognitive strategies for performing specific duties of your job
- Adapting your equipment and work station to meet your needs
- Working a shorter day or part time
- Having frequent rest breaks during the day
- Making changes to your job duties
- Planning a graduated (slow, step by step) return to work
- Attending a work hardening program to build stamina and strength
- Having a job coach when starting work
There are many other ways to build purpose in your life. You can volunteer, take a class and get involved in other leisure interests. All or these can open doors to new opportunities, and new opportunities can take you in many exciting directions.
Resources for Returning to Work
Richmond Center for Disability
The Richmond Centre for Disability (RCD) is a consumer centered organization committed to enabling all people with disabilities in making informed choices, creating opportunities, meeting their goals and reaching their full potential.
Job Skills Project: Are you a person with a disability who is ready to take that first step on your career path? If so, join us today!
WorkBC helps people find jobs, explore career options and improve their skills. We also help employers fill jobs, find the right talent and grow their businesses.
Other people who regularly use WorkBC products and services include parents, teachers, career and employment counsellors, human resources professionals, researchers and decision-makers.
The Technology@Work Program supports people who have a work related barrier due to a disability or a functional limitation and who require Assistive Technology for employment or volunteer activities in British Columbia.
After your brain injury, you may be eligible to receive income from the following sources.
Long Term or Short Term Disability Benefits
- A form of income support related to a job and provided through an insurance company
- Long-term disability (LTD) benefits often involve two years of benefits while you cannot perform your usual job, followed by an evaluation of your longer-term ability to perform any gainful occupation
- Check with your Case Manager or Specialist about the features of your plan
- If you become capable of returning to work, help might be available through a vocational rehab department