Message from Guest Editor:
Work continues to be a critical part of rehabilitation for patients recovering from traumatic brain injury (TBI). Following injury, there can be a strong likelihood of returning to the same line of work although frequently in a different job or department. On the other hand, some patients with TBI may have a longer term, chronic disability and thus require more medical intervention before work becomes a possibility. The most critical aspect of this special “return to work issue” is that employment is possible and desirable for most patients with TBI. Approximately 30 years ago it was next to impossible to find articles documenting meaningful competitive employment outcomes for individuals with long term TBI, yet, over time this has changed. We increasingly know that patients with TBI can not only return to real work, but can also gain other important work related benefits such as increased self-esteem and financial independence. Although we do not currently have controlled studies in this area, it is likely that patients with significant TBI receiving ongoing work support and intervention show more overall gains physically and psychologically, than those who have no exposure to work. It is absolutely essential that such studies be conducted in the years ahead in order for physicians, psychologists, parents, patients and policymakers to understand the full therapeutic benefits of work.
There are numerous vocational models for TBI and return to work, many of which are discussed in the papers in this special issue. The Club house model, vocational case management, cognitive rehabilitation, vocational rehabilitation counseling engagement, supported employment and customized employment, all with or without increased utilization of assistive technology, show promise. In the papers which follow, current employment interventions for Service Members, Veterans, civilians, and those with polytrauma TBI are reviewed. We have also included an interview from the perspective of a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who has worked to return Veterans with TBI to employment.
Guest Editor Biography
Paul Wehman, PhD, is a VCU Professor in the School of Education’s Counseling and Special Education Department with a longtime appointment in the VCU Health System’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He is Director of both the VCU Rehabilitation Research and Training Center and the Autism Center for Excellence and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation. Recognized as one of the 50 Most Influential People in Special Education for the millennium by Remedial and Special Education, his highly interdisciplinary background has made him a nationally recognized expert in transition, supported employment, brain injury, physical and developmental disabilities and autism.
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