Research Reports - Return-to-work challenges following a work-related mild TBI

Brain Inj. 2015 Oct;29(11):1362-9. doi: 10.3109/02699052.2015.1053524. Epub 2015 Aug 7.

Mansfield E(1), Stergiou-Kita M(1,)(2,)(3), Cassidy JD(4), Bayley M(1,)(2),
Mantis S(5), Kristman V(1,)(3,)(6), Kirsh B(1), Gomez M(1), Jeschke
MG(1,)(7,)(8), Vartanian O(1), Moody J(9), Colantonio A(1,)(2).

PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: To explore how individuals with work-related mild traumatic
brain injury (wrMTBI) experience return-to-work (RTW) processes when returning to
the workplace where the injury occurred.
DESIGN: RTW experiences were explored using in-depth interviews and an inductive
analytic approach. Qualitative analysis guided by the research question moved
through phases of line-by-line and thematic coding through which categories and
the interaction between categories emerged.
PARTICIPANTS: Twelve workers diagnosed with a wrMTBI reported on their RTW
experiences following wrMTBIs that occurred 3-5 years prior to the time of the
interview.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND RESULTS: Participants perceived employer and workers'
compensation factors as profoundly influencing their RTW experiences.
Participants consistently reported that employers and workers' compensation
representatives had an inadequate understanding of wrMTBI sequelae. Six of 12
participants were re-injured following their wrMTBI, with three of these injuries
occurring at work.
CONCLUSION: Employers, co-workers and workers' compensation representatives
should be aware of wrMTBI sequelae so injured workers can receive appropriate
supports and both stigmatization and re-injury can be mitigated. Greater
attention to the structural and social elements of workplace and compensation
environments could inform strategies to break down barriers to successful
return-to-work following a wrMTBI. 

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