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Help & advice

Returning to work with a brain injury

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Returning to work after a head injury can be a huge step in someone’s recovery. It can indicate that things are getting back to normal and that your life is back on track. However, it is also important to remember that you have sustained an injury which may impact on your day to day working ability and the way you interact with others at work.

It is important that if you are thinking of returning to work after a brain injury you are completely ready for this step. You need to make sure you are prepared and try not to rush things. Returning to work too quickly after an injury can cause problems for your recovery. It can damage your confidence if you are not able to do certain tasks as you would once have been able to. If your job is particularly stressful or involves a lot of decision making, you may want to consider discussing how you can get help for these tasks before returning.

However, there are plenty of things you can do to help yourself and ensure your return to work is successful.

Seek the right support

Finding the correct support is important in the workplace and knowing you are not alone in itself can help you to reintegrate. Getting help from other people may seem like backing down and giving up, but it actually shows a huge amount of strength and can help with a more successful return to work.

Specialist vocational rehabilitation, occupational therapists and disability employment advisors can all be excellent sources of support and provide you with the help and information you need when you are considering returning to work.

Not only that, but the help and support you can get from your family and friends can be invaluable and mustn’t be underestimated.

Speak to your employer

Speaking to your employer and being honest about your abilities and limitations can also help with your return to work. By fully explaining the situation to your employer, and also other colleagues, you will help them to understand why you may need help with certain tasks and they will know how to help if you do encounter any problems.

Your employer will also be able to help ensure that the working environment is correct for you and is set up to give you the best chance of returning and completing tasks to the best of your ability. Often, busy, noisy and stressful offices can be difficult to cope with and may mean concentration levels are at a minimum. By addressing such things with your employer you can find the best environment for you and your individual needs.

Set realistic goals and be positive

You need to ensure you set yourself realistic goals, but also make sure you feel positive about returning to work. Managing expectations and setting goals which are achievable can mean a much easier return to work and make you feel more positive about the situation.

Being realistic about what you are ready to undertake and having a positive attitude can make all the difference to you and to others in your workplace.

Ask for feedback and monitoring

Sometimes it can be difficult after a brain injury to assess your own performance and see where things are going right and where things can be improved. By asking for feedback and monitoring any problems that do arise can be addressed and rectified quickly.

Review meetings can be useful, not only for addressing problems, but for also showing positives in the work you have done. Discussing how you are performing well in areas can have a hugely positive effect on your return to work and can mean a change in the tasks you are doing to ones better suited to your ability. It also gives a platform to improve on and gradually build tasks up to a level you are comfortable with.

Although there is a lot to consider when returning to work, it can mean a return to some sort of routine and normality which helps in your overall recovery after a brain injury. Just remember, if you need help or need to adjust working environments and times of work, don’t be afraid to ask.

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