Funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, Project Career (2013-2019) was a sixyear intervention development project that applied the Cognitive Support Technology (CST) model to the academic and career preparatory needs of postsecondary students with TBIs in Ohio, Massachusetts, and West Virginia. Project Career utilized iPads and cognitive-enhancement mobile applications or ‘apps’ as the CST platform, with the goal of improving participants’ prospects for academic success, competitive employment, and long-term quality of life. Following an in-depth assessment of their cognitive functioning and needs for CST strategies, Project Career students were provided with the following supports:
- An active network of professional mentors, faculty advisors, and employers in their chosen fields
- Free use of iPad tablet computers and Internet access
- A menu of more than 400 mobile apps that were used with their iPads to help them compensate for cognitive limitations, with each student selecting the specific apps that work best for him or her
- Intensive vocational case management, assessment, job development and placement, field-based work experiences and internships, and assistance with classroom and on-the job accommodations provided by Certified Rehabilitation Counselors
- An electronic portal of TBI and employment resources housed at the Job Accommodation Network at West Virginia University.
Results from Project Career revealed that participating students (N=150) increased their mean grade-point average from 2.6 to 3.25;
reported significant gains in life satisfaction, acceptance of disability, use of CST strategies, psychosocial adjustment, general health status, career preparatory activities, comfort with assistive technology, and social capital; and maintained their participation in their degree programs at an 87.5% rate of persistence.
Notably, more than 60percent of Project Career students had sustained TBIs that were classified as severe. Of the 50 Project
Career students who graduated from their degree programs during the initiative, 49 are currently employed and/or pursuing further
education. This constitutes a 98 percent rate of productive career engagement.
Mykal is a 26 year-old Army veteran who sustained a severe TBI while serving in Iraq. His symptoms include short-term and longterm
memory deficits, problems with executive functioning, depression, and fine motor impairments. Mykal enrolled in Project
Career in 2016, while he was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Project Career case managers trained Mykal in
the use of his iPad, and they identified seven commercially available apps to support his cognitive functioning, study skills, and career
planning efforts. During his undergraduate studies, Mykal worked part-time with a computer software firm that develops billing
systems for the healthcare industry. Mykal performed so well in this job that the company hired him into a full-time Software Analyst position upon his college graduation in 2019.
Mykal is living proof that widely available and low-cost technology can be used to combat TBI-related cognitive limitations and help
people with TBI realize their educational and career goals. Mykal also demonstrates the resilience of the brain and the human
spirit. The Project Career team is very proud of the remarkable accomplishments of Mykal and the other 149 individuals who took part in the initiative. Currently, the Project Career team is implementing a randomized clinical trial (RCT) at the intervention efficacy stage of knowledge generation with a new sample of 90 college and university students with TBI. For more information about
Project Career or the ongoing RCT, please contact Dr. Phillip Rumrill of the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute at