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What TBI Symptoms Most Frequently Impact Return to Work?

What TBI Symptoms Most Frequently Impact Return to Work?

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We studied employment 15 years after their original brain injury, and we found a number of factors that would predict whether somebody was working or not among these Vietnam veterans we studied. This includes things like whether they had epilepsy or not-- about half of our vets had epilepsy-- whether they were hemiparetic or not. They had arm weakness. They couldn't use 1 of their arms well. Whether they had visual field defects--that is, they couldn't see very well to 1 side of space. But as prominent were memory deficits, which everybody is aware can occur after a traumatic brain injury, and somewhat surprising to us-- no more surprising but it was at the time--problems in social cognition including aggression and interpersonal impairments--that is, a lack of skills in relating to other people and in navigating social situations. So, 2 out of the 7 factors that would predict whether somebody was working or not had to do with social behavior, so we were able to do that pretty well in terms of predicting outcome, and it was additive. We knew, for example, if people had 4 or more of these factors they were not likely to work. If they had all 7 factors they were not working.

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In a study of Vietnam veterans with TBI, Dr. Jordan Grafman showed that problems navigating social behaviors were the most definitive factors for not being able to return to work.

See more videos with Dr. Jordan Grafman.


Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Erica Queen, BrainLine.

Jordan Grafman, PhDJordan Grafman, PhD, is director of Brain Injury Research, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. His investigation of brain function and behavior contributes to advances in medicine, rehabilitation, and psychology, and informs ethics, law, philosophy, and health policy. 

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