Returning to Work After A Brain Injury

Deciding how and whether to re-enter the workforce can be challenging for brain injury survivors. Today, Sandra Madden, a brain injury survivor and the Administrative Assistant at Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts, shares her story and offers tips for re-entering the work world.

Leaving the safety net of social security disability felt a bit daunting at first, but being home and having reminders all day of my cognitive difficulties and my chronic pain were just overwhelming. But, I found that if I kept busy, my mind and body could be distracted from these issues, so I began to think that I could return to the workforce.

However, I had been out of work since 2006 and did not feel confident that I could re-enter the workforce immediately. In order to determine what my capabilities were, and to fulfill my desire to be of service to others, I took several steps. In my mind, I kept questioning, could I be successful in spite of my physical issues? Here are the steps I took in my quest to return to work:

1. Volunteering. Find an organization whose mission matters to your heart and soul and you will be successful in your volunteer capacity. Be honest with the organization as to your capabilities and limitations. This was the greatest experience and led me to have the self-confidence I needed to re-enter the workforce.

2. Seek out the help of MRC (Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission) and determine if you qualify for services. Visit this site: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/consumer/disability-services/vocational-rehab/

3. Update your resume, sign up for job alerts and attend job fairs. The websites Indeed.com, Monster.com and SimplyHired.com are just some of the sites which allow you to sign up for job alerts and search for employment opportunities. You must be your own best advocate in the job search.

4. Consider working part-time if you are not ready or able to return to work full-time. Whether you are considering part-time or full-time work, you can research the “Ticket to Work” program on the Social Security website at http://www.ssa.gov/work/home.html

My journey has been a long one, of nearly three years, and I finally achieved success in October, landing an important job as Administrative Assistant here at the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts. Every day I am thankful for this opportunity and every day I feel more and more confident of my ability to work full-time – this has been the right decision for me and for my family and I am terribly happy!

“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.” – Jesse Jackson

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