Strategies to get back to work after a TBI

Are you preparing to return to work after a traumatic brain injury (TBI)? If so, here are some strategies to help you.

Sustaining and then living with a traumatic brain injury can be very challenging to say the least. Knowing that as many as 40.7% of patients with a TBI returned to work within one year of injury, however,  does provide hope to the approximately 693,000 American women who sustain a TBI annually.  While medical care and ongoing therapy will always play a vital role in the recovery process, there are a number of strategies you, as the patient, can implement to make your return to work as pain-free as possible.

Only return when you are ready

Regardless of how eager you may be to go back to work, it is important that you only do so when you are ready.  Many TBI survivors make the mistake of trying to return to normality too soon without gaining a full understanding of what impact their injury had on their brain. 

This is a common occurrence when other physical injuries have already healed but the cognitive abilities are still battling to catch up. The extent of a car accident head injury or other TBI will ultimately determine how long the recovery process is, how soon you can return to work, and what compensation you are entitled to. Do not return to work until you feel you are 100% ready and remember to be completely honest with yourself at all times.

Set realistic expectations for yourself

While it is important to have a positive attitude about returning to work, it is just as important to set realistic expectations for yourself.  Remember that being positive does not require you to pretend that you don’t have any questions or concerns.

To be truly positive you need to honestly assess your situation, identify any challenges, and be proactive about overcoming them. Be accepting of honest feedback offered by your medical team, family members, and friends, and also have the confidence to vocalize your own needs.

You can motivate yourself by setting goals but make sure they are achievable. Small, easy-to-reach milestones will benefit you much more than huge, unattainable goals that will only leave you feeling demotivated when you don’t reach them.  

Practice your new routine at home

The old saying ‘practice makes perfect’ is even applicable when it comes to returning to work after a TBI. If you want to be as well-prepared as possible, consider mimicking a working week while still at home. Wake up at the same time you would have to when you are working and have your tea and lunch in the same time slots as well. 

It may even be a good idea to also practice being as physically active at home as you would be performing your duties at work. If your job entails you sitting behind a desk the whole day it obviously won’t be as big a priority as when you stand or walk extensively during office hours. 

Returning to work after a TBI is a very big deal. Thankfully, there are a number of things that can be done to make the transition as easy as possible.