Back to Work? Options after a Disability

Back to Work? Options after a Disability

Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, Ph.D and Stephanie Kolakowsky-Hayner, M.A.

Whether a person is returning to work or searching for that first job after a brain injury, becoming employed can be more complicated than simply finding work. This tip card has information to help adults with brain injury identify and consider possible concerns as well as needs for support and accommodations on the job. It frankly discusses the pros and cons of employment when an adult has a disability.

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Full Description

There are many challenges and options for working when a person has a brain injury. They are identified along with strategies for negotiating accommodations for physical and cognitive impairments. This tip card has information with strategies for discussing job safety, work schedules, and effective communication with supervisors and co-workers after traumatic brain injury.

Pages 8
Year 2007 second edition


Stephanie Kolakowsky-Hayner, Ph.D.

She is the Director of Rehabilitation Research at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, CA and the Project Co-Director of the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) funded Northern California Traumatic Brain Injury Model System of Care. Dr. Kolakowsky-Hayner is also the Project Co-Director of a NIDRR Field Initiated Grant entitled, A New Measure of Subjective Fatigue in Persons with TBI.

Her main interests include ethnicity and cultural issues, return to work, family and caregiver needs, and substance use after injury. She continues as a reviewer for NeuroRehabilitation and Brain Injury, and is an Associate Editor on the Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology.

Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, Ph.D., ABPP (RP)

He is a Professor with appointments in the Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia Campus in Richmond. Board certified in rehabilitation psychology, he has more than two decades of clinical experience as a brain injury rehabilitation specialist. Since 1987, Dr. Kreutzer has served as the Director of Virginia’s federally-designated Traumatic Brain Injury Model System. Dr. Kreutzer has co-authored more than 130 publications, most in the area of traumatic brain injury and rehabilitation.


This tip card helps adults with disabilities and families...

  • identify challenges for returning to work
  • use strategies to work successfully 

Want Your Old Job Back?


Job Safety

Work Schedule

Supervisors and Co-Workers




Sample excerpt. Preview only – please do not copy.

Want Your Old Job Back?

Any disease, condition or injury that affects the brain can cause physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral changes. Strokes and brain injuries are just two of many conditions that can raise questions about your ability to work again. A few weeks in the hospital, or even a few weeks at home, can make you miss even the most boring job. You probably miss making money and your friends at work. Maybe your boss, co-workers, or friends have been nagging you to start back right away. You have bills piling up.

No matter how excited you are about working again, going back to the same job may not be the best idea. You may want to think about changing the kind of work you do, who you work for, or your schedule. Maybe you didn’t like where you were working in the first place. This is a chance to make a change.

Perhaps you worry about how you’ll be treated by supervisors or co-workers. You may be worried about your stamina, headaches, back problems, memory, dizziness, or weakness. They can affect your ability to do the job. There is also the question of safety at work.

Job Safety

The following questions will help you think about the work that you want to do, how the workplace is set up, and how you expect to be treated....

  • What will be hardest for me on the job?
  • What will be easiest for me on the job?
  • How will I feel if I can’t work as well as before?
  • Can I change some parts of my job?

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