Optimising Return To Work Practices Following Catastrophic Injury

Executive Summary:

People with catastrophic injuries face many long-term challenges in the community as a result of their injury: one of the most problematic can be in returning to work (RTW). It may not only be a significant issue for the person with a catastrophic injury but also for their family, friends, the employment industry, and society. Worldwide mean RTW rates for people with catastrophic injury are approximately 30-40%; however, in Australia the overall mean rate is unknown. Internationally, the best RTW rates reported for moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) come from the UK, Sweden and USA, whilst for spinal cord injury (SCI) they are in Switzerland and Sweden. There are several differences in the way rates reported are calculated such as the time post-injury, making it difficult to definitively identify whether one country achieves better RTW rates than another. Several studies have been conducted to determine the factors which facilitate and limit RTW for people with catastrophic injury. These include having pre-injury employment, age, education, severity of injury, level of cognitive impairment, being functionally independent, fatigue, psychological adjustment to the change, social support and the work environment to name a few. There is a general lack of understanding of the experience of people with catastrophic injury who return to work and, therefore, little known about how job retention can be successful in the long-term.

This NTRI Forum aims to enhance understanding of the features of optimal return to work practices following traumatic brain and spinal cord injury and identify barriers and facilitators to their implementation.

Date: January 2015

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