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When should a person with a spinal cord injury return to work?

When should a person with a spinal cord injury return to work?

Michelle Meade, PhD

Psychologist, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Read Bio More Videos by Michelle Meade
Transcript
We’ve been doing some interviews and focus groups about this, and what you hear with regard to the work lifecycle is you got to deal with those psychological issues first. You have to deal with the depression; you have to get through it. But, you a... Show More

We’ve been doing some interviews and focus groups about this, and what you hear with regard to the work lifecycle is you got to deal with those psychological issues first. You have to deal with the depression; you have to get through it. But, you also have to make sure you’re not bored, or get in the mind set of “I can’t do anything.” But you also have to relearn your body and what it takes to get showered in the morning, and get dressed, and do your pressure-releases and those develop a schedule. So, you figure out first how to relearn your body and its functioning on an everyday basis. And in a way you almost regret not doing it. You hear some folks who went back immediately, but then they missed out on going to therapy because therapy occurs during the day and work occurs during the day, and they couldn’t do both.  And so, it’s finding that balance—I think returning to work is really important. Employment provides us with an identity, it provides a social outlet, it provides reinforcement and hopefully things we do well and things we’re passionate about. But we also have to feel comfortable with our body and able to communicate unhesitantly with the other people who are going to ask questions, we have to ask for accommodations. You have to instruct other people about, “This is what I need,” and so it’s going to be a balance and a learning process. Sometimes I think the idea of transitioning back on a part-time basis and then going full-in can work better.

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When should a person with a spinal cord injury return to work?

Michelle Meade, PhD

Psychologist, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

More Videos by Michelle Meade
Transcriptadd

We’ve been doing some interviews and focus groups about this, and what you hear with regard to the work lifecycle is you got to deal with those psychological issues first. You have to deal with the depression; you have to get through it. But, you also have to make sure you’re not bored, or get in the mind set of “I can’t do anything.” But you also have to relearn your body and what it takes to get showered in the morning, and get dressed, and do your pressure-releases and those develop a schedule. So, you figure out first how to relearn your body and its functioning on an everyday basis. And in a way you almost regret not doing it. You hear some folks who went back immediately, but then they missed out on going to therapy because therapy occurs during the day and work occurs during the day, and they couldn’t do both.  And so, it’s finding that balance—I think returning to work is really important. Employment provides us with an identity, it provides a social outlet, it provides reinforcement and hopefully things we do well and things we’re passionate about. But we also have to feel comfortable with our body and able to communicate unhesitantly with the other people who are going to ask questions, we have to ask for accommodations. You have to instruct other people about, “This is what I need,” and so it’s going to be a balance and a learning process. Sometimes I think the idea of transitioning back on a part-time basis and then going full-in can work better.

When should a person with a spinal cord injury return to work?
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