Return to Work

Mrs. FL has gained considerable strength in her upper extremities but not her lower extremities. She wants to return to work as her disability payments leave her close to the poverty line. Plus she wants to have a comfortable retirement income. She asks about mediating factors and supports available in returning her to work.
What percentage of SCI individuals return to work?
1. 62% of Canadians with spinal cord injury remain unemployed.
2. Elsewhere there is large variation in the proportion of people with SCI who are employed, ranging from 20% to 70%.
What factors are important considerations when returning an individual with SCI back to work? 
1. Factors for consideration when an individual with SCI returns to work include environmental barriers (transportation / community mobility, job accommodation), non-modifiable variables (age, sex, time since injury, pre-injury situations), injury related factors (time since injury, pre-injury situations), and psychosocial factors (personality, depression, education).
2. Non-modifiable personal characteristics such as being male and Caucasian, younger at injury, with a longer duration of injury (20-30 years) with a higher pre-injury education, less severely injured, and being employed at injury in a low-intensity job increase the likelihood of employment post-SCI.
3. Modifiable personal characteristics such as being married, highly educated, limiting the occurrence of health complications with a higher level of independence (including wheelchair skills), and valuing work increase the likelihood of employment post-SCI.
What evidence is there for workplace interventions after SCI?
1. Continuous support to the employee and employer before and after vocational placement may lead to a successful return to work and job retention.

For more information please see: Return to Work and Workplace Interventions