December 8, 2023

Returning to work after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may be a daunting task. It may be the first situation in which the injury survivor feels challenged because of the demanding and complex nature of work. The injury survivors may find difficulty coping with the work environment and situations and may feel that they cannot meet the work standards. 

Managing the return to work after a traumatic injury
Fatigue and loss of confidence because of traumatic brain injury have a tremendous impact which is often underestimated. So, it is necessary to manage fatigue and build confidence to optimize cognitive performance at work. Hence, injury management should start at the earliest after the traumatic event. Injury management helps to improve the chances of recovery and ability to get back to work.   

Deciding to get back to work
It is essential to keep regular contact with your employer or supervisor while recovering. Understand paid time off  entitlements and discuss this with the human resource department if necessary. Give them all the essential information related to traumatic brain injury. Be honest with the employer about your ability to complete a task, legal issues, take precautions at work, etc.

If you have returned to work after a traumatic brain injury, it is best to communicate with your employer, supervisor, or human resources department. Discuss your needs, work timings, work from home, and other options once you go back to your job. This type of conversation helps decide if such changes are beneficial to both the employer and employee or if further changes are necessary. 

Seek support
Choose a job that is beneficial for you. It is best to seek support and advice from close family, friends, and professional services. Seeking support is helpful in case you experience difficulties in deciding, have memory loss issues, etc. It is crucial to understand that accepting help and support from others is not a sign of weakness, but strength. With the proper support and guidance, getting back to work after a traumatic brain injury becomes easier. 

Get back to work only when ready
Some traumatic brain injury survivors get back to work too soon without thinking about the effects of work pressure on their brain. Also, returning too soon can affect their work performance. This is a problem when the survivor makes an excellent physical recovery and assumes their cognitive abilities are also recovered. Getting back to work reveals the full extent of difficulties and can further damage their confidence if work performance cannot meet expectations. So, staying honest with yourself is the key, and do not rush recovery. 

Be positive and realistic
After the traumatic brain injury, things may not remain the same, and hence, your attitude towards getting back to work is crucial. It would help if you will accept honest feedback from your colleagues, supervisors, or seniors. You should have realistic awareness and willingness to tell others about your needs. Think positive but try to find the balance between realism and positivity. Do not keep unrealistic expectations like this can lead to loss of confidence and disappointment. Think about the effects of brain injury and its impact on your abilities. Stay positive, realistic, and committed to the path you choose to follow. 

Communicate with colleagues
It is up to you to tell or not to tell your colleagues about your brain injury and its effects. Don’t feel the obligation to share everything related to the injury. If you are not comfortable with anything, simply do not share. However, if you are returning to previous work, then your colleagues may know about the situation. If you wish, you can tell them about your difficulties you may experience when you get back to work. 

If starting a new job, you can discuss the situation in advance or during induction. This will help the people make any special arrangements if needed.

As no two traumatic brain injury survivors will have the same needs concerning getting back to work, honestly, updating the employer or human resource department about the injury can make your return easy.