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How Can You Help People with TBI Return to Their Jobs?

How Can You Help People with TBI Return to Their Jobs?


How can you help people with TBI return to their jobs?

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[Dr. Heechin Chae] We don't want the person to fail while they recover. The last thing I want is we work towards goal, and they come back and say, "I got fired because I couldn't do my job." It's like, "Of course you cannot do your job. Actually it's failure on my part to not protect you because of this medical condition." I make sure we take them out, whether it be three months, two months, 90 days. Some of them say, "Doc, I'm going to be fired if I take three months off." Then I try to work with HR. What is the best way to really do this and not have the person fail before the person is ready? I really try to protect them and get them functioning better before they go back. They go back. We try to do an increment time and again communicate with the workplace to do this. The good news is that I think all workplaces I work with—they are very open to do this. Now in military setting it's basically working with command. The command, again thankfully because of the increased awareness of TBI, they're very willing to work with me. Actually I've been very surprised to find it's easier to work with command then some of the companies on civilian side. Command has been very receptive and easy to work with. I think that perception out there—I got to be there, otherwise I'm let go—is kind of wrong. I think that a lot of companies actually want their employees to get better. Actually all commands I know want their soldiers and sailors to get better. They actually really are committed to them. I will say work with these people to get them back to work but protect them before they're ready.

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Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Lara Collins, and Ashley Gilleland, BrainLine.

Heechin Chae, MD Heechin Chae, MD was appointed site director of DVBIC at Fort Belvoir and chief of the Traumatic Brain Injury Department at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in 2011. He will become the director of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence satellite at Fort Belvoir in 2013.

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