For many people returning to pre-injury employment is an important milestone towards regaining a sense of identity and purpose. However, it is very common after a brain injury to have unrealistic expectations about one’s capabilities in this regard. People often feel they are ready to go back against the advice of family and health professionals. This can be due to a lack of awareness, or denial in relation to impairments. Returning to work too early can result in fatigue and overwhelm, which can be disappointing, and feel like a step backwards.
If a neuropsychological assessment took place during rehabilitation, this should provide some indications about the areas of difficulty that will need to be addressed in returning to work. For some people, returning to pre-injury employment may never be feasible, and options for retraining into a different vocation may need to be considered.
The ability to hold a job is one of the most potent measures of community integration. The single most important factor in predicting return to work is active participation in rehabilitation and in the therapeutic community. The second best predictor is the injured person’s self-awareness. The ability to manage emotions is also a significant factor in employability.