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Workers at Risk for Long-Term Unemployment Years After Brain Injury

works-unemployment-tbiWhen workers undergo a traumatic brain injury (TBI) on the job, it’s not only their health that suffers, but also their prospects of regaining employment, according to a Dutch study published in the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine’s Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Researchers followed up with 94 workers in the Netherlands aged 18-65, each of whom had suffered a work-related brain injury. The trend amongst the workers was a sharp drop in employment status.

Prior to the accidents, future employment prospects for the group of workers had been 80 percent. Post-injury, that rate dropped to 15 percent three months after being discharged from the hospital. It gradually increased to 55 percent over the next three years.

Age, length of hospital stay, discharge to a nursing home (vs. home), and psychiatric symptoms were found to be significant factors for any single worker’s prospects for post-accident employment.

TBI is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Three times more common in men than women, TBI poses the highest risks for young and elderly people. In the United States, the Dutch researchers cited, the incidence of TBI is estimated to be 200 per 100,000 per year.

“Patients with TBI with psychiatric symptoms and impaired cognitive functioning at hospital discharge are at the highest risk of long-term unemployment,” the researchers concluded. “These factors should be the focus of vocational rehabilitation.”