Jobs for people with brain injuries

My 19 year old son was assaulted nearly a year ago and suffered a traumatic brain injury. We were told that his chances of survival were slim due to an arterial bleed into his brain. Thank the angels he survived and is with us today. He was due to start university last September but has been unable to go, his whole future has changed. He did manage to complete his college course but lost over a year of memories due to his injury. He did try an apprenticeship, but was unable to process the information that he was given and ended up having a meltdown. He really wants to find employment and earn himself a wage so he can try and get his life back on track. To look at him and listen to him, you would think that there is nothing wrong. He has frontal lobe brain damage that has left him with sporadic short term memory loss and he can be impulsive. He has been put on an antidepressant to help with his low mood and hopefully settle down the erratic electrics in his brain. All he needs is the chance of a little job and earn a wage whilst also boosting his confidence and mood. Help!? :)

31 Replies

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  • Has your son been in contact with supportive employment through the job centre there a team of people who specialise in helping to help people with disabilities or different needsto find work,social workers and doctors can do referrals for them too. Its worth looking into good luck! X

  • I'm sorry to read about your son, Sambo but pleased the angels were on his side. I hear so many stories of doctors more or less giving up hope when their patients are clearly determined to survive.

    I was going to suggest Youth Connexions who have specialist advisers for young people with disabilities but if he's tried an apprenticeship already, this may be a resource you've already tapped.

    What about considering some voluntary work before attempting another paid job? Less pressure and an opportunity for your son to build some confidence.

    Check out do-it.org and vinspired.com for some ideas.

  • sambo73 get him off the anti depressants quick as. i have a frontal lobe following an abi thats what my doc wanted to give me but i told told him where to shove them.

    i take epilim which is for epilepsy but is also used as a mood stabliser but it has to be epilim or the pharmacy may give sodium valporate, phenotoin ,which although similar can disturb the balance causing you to kick off.

    we dont know what were doing or saying because the filters arent there anymore, the only thing im aware of is when i cry, because i can feel the tears rolling down my cheeks and theres nothing i can do to control them!!!

    short term memory is a problem as is concentration i dont read books anymore because i cant concentrate on whats written also when i come back i need to start again because ive forgotten whats been said!!!

    watch him and make note of any changes however small and as i tell everyone find your local headway group and GO!!!

    as far as works concerned......if he can get a job where he can turn up as and and when and leave when he wants happy days.......

    who d be a mum eh.

    what are your sons social skills like since his tbi........does he have as big a circle of friends, whats his noise tollerance like is he ever inappropriate, does he suffer epileptic type episodes..................

    welcome to the group feel free torant

    steve

  • Completely agree Steve get him off the antidepressants quick. My wife was on them for anxiety for about 6 weeks she was worse but couldn't see it. When she came off them different woman. N XX

  • One of the problems post injury is to give the brain enough time to repair itself. Our systems get overload by bright lights, crowds, thinking and planning by making it uncomfortable or preventing us from doing it completely. Avoiding these frees the brain to work on other things and repair.

    Similarly, Anti depressants are frequently given to BI suffers not as a remedy for any mood disorder but to slow the brain down so that it isn't working so hard and has more free time to start the healing process.

    I was offered Anti depressants early on in my recovery by my GP and like most people refused them immediately. However, it was about two years into my injury, a neurologist told me the reason behind why anti depressants are given to BI survivors.

    The frustration is that on the tools the GP's use for diagnosis and treatment, Anti Depressants are listed but there is no neurological description as to why you give them apart from some BI survivors may suffer from mood swings

  • neur psychiatrist offered me the choice of 2 ( it was citalopram ) because she diagnosed me as being on the hd whatever, wow, i think she was trying to do away with me .........in the first 2 weeks of taking this medication you may feel the need to comit suicide....and shouldnt be given to someone with high blood pressure. so if the hp didnt kill me the urge to stick my head in an oven would !!!

  • oh god that's awful and so scary, glad you got away from it. I think the same as you, is someone taking advantage because he forgets? :( I will certainly be getting advice re being in control of his finances and try and sort something out re people talking to me re appointments etc...everything just seems to be a bloody battle! Cal is on Sertraline, supposed to even up the electrics in the brain. Cal broke down after attempting an apprenticeship and said that if he had to go back he would hurt himself :( You seem to understand what you are struggling with, is it your understanding or what others tell you? do you feel that you have improved at all over time? sorry for the questions x

  • sambo73 before my bi i worked in social care.

    one man i worked with reminds me of cal, you could give him the whole of his benefit and hed be skint the next......wouldnt say no...and if he didnt have cigarettes the staff were in for a hard time.....not in a violent way.

    my wife tells me what im being like and i know when ive done something really bad because she gets really angry with me .

    my bi has also left me with a speach impediment.......i swear constantly..but not when im writing or typing because i need to think about what im going to say and how the words are spelt, something i didnt have to do before.

    under the curcumstances it maybe worth finding out if you and how you become a power of eterny eitther full time or until cal improves enough to take care of his own affairs.

    sam you said something i think i missed first time round....you look at him you speak to him he seems normal, before my bi , my favourite saying was " but for the grace of god go i " in other words i could quite easily have been that disabled person, now my favourite saying is " disability isnt always physical "

    steve

  • Hi Steve, thanks for your advice. I've said to Nick that I am reluctant to stop his meds, as he has had some upbeat moments over the last couple of weeks. I don't know what to do for the best. We have some appointments over the next week so I will definitely be bringing it up with them.

    Cal has got a nice group of friends who were all there for him following his injury. The problem I find is that they don't understand his difficulties. He looks and sounds like the old Cal but he is very much the opposite. They tease him about repeating conversations because he doesn't remember having them in the first place. Cal doesn't help because he has no memories of what happened to him, so he wants to carry on as if nothing ever did. His neuro doctor has said that he needs to accept what has happened to him and gain an insight to his brain injury, but he doesn't want to. Professional's wont speak to me because Cal is 19- an adult. They discuss things with Cal over the phone and as soon as he hangs up he hasn't a clue what they have said because they have bombarded him with info, it has been so frustrating! He used to spend hours on his Xbox, as teenagers do, but he can no longer concentrate and becomes irritable. He no longer has any concept of money, as soon as he gets his benefit money, £110 every two weeks, it goes in a flash and he has no idea why or what he has spent it on. He got paid it yesterday and to my surprise he actually gave me his bank card to hide, although tonight he has been wanting me to give it back to him, if I do I know that by tomorrow it will have all gone. Anyway rant over :) I am sure that there will be more to follow, Sam x

  • sambo73 sam go to cab and see what they can come up with, because from what you say, you son could with a responsible adult.

    i know for benefit purposes your son could fill in a form giving you permission to act for him......my wife comes every where with me she has permission to phone for my results, so she knows whats what.

    id have a word with his friends and just say, he repeats himself because he doesnt know who he s told, i have a friend the same as cal, me as well.

    if he cant remember spending it , is someone taking advantage of his poor memory......

    steve

  • When I wasn't able to return to full-time work after illness I volunteered, teaching English to foreign students at night school within the local college.

    There are many voluntary jobs which might give your son a feeling of worth without being too demanding, and which could lead to something more permanent.

    Check online for voluntary work. xx

  • Hi

    As Cat mentioned, voluntary work could be a way forward. Currently there is huge demand for volunteers/internships. I volunteer and have found it is a good gauge to assess how I fare in the workplace, and I feel I have a purpose now. adversely, I have had to decrease my hours recently, due to fatigue/illness.

    Access to work, is a government initiative to assist people returning to work after illness, disability. They will support your son, and liaise with his employer to ensure under the equality act 2010 , the organisation need to implement reasonable adjustment, and if not this could be viewed as discrimatory against his injury.

    Good luck and he has age on his side!

  • Hi Sambo,

    Sorry to hear about your son and reading through the posts get him off the antidepressants. From experience with my wife they are a nightmare. She suffers from anxiety problems and the antis were horrible for her as she didn't realise it was making her worse. Once off them she was so much better.

    Where about are you I'm in the East Sussex region and may be able to help with short term work for your son.

    Welcome to the forum. Nick X

  • Hi Nick, thank you for your kind offer, unfortunately we are in West Yorkshire. I hear what you are all saying about antidepressants, but I am reluctant to stop them at the moment. Over the past two weeks he has had more upbeat moments, which have been a welcomed change. I am hoping that the good moments will increase, but I might just be being too optimistic.

    I cant believe I haven't accessed the forum sooner. I have read books/ articles and listened to professional's, but reading all your first hand experiences has helped me so much more.

    Thanks again, Sam x

  • I have 3 1/2 years after a SAH, accepted that it is unlikely that I will get back to full time work as a result of fatigue (I'm 54 so I've had a successful career in a couple of sectors), I am very fortunate that my wife has been able to take over as our main wage earner, and I have been able to get PIP and contributory based ESA, and as I'm the support group category, I don't face the withdrawal of it after 12 months.

    About 18 months ago I started to volunteer at the local TIC about once a week for a 3 hour shift, and I've found it works for me, I also about once a month do a session (2 hours) as an examiner for HSE first aid courses.

    Whilst I understand his need to have a job that provides him with money, both for his self esteem and practical reasons, voluntary work would give him a chance to see what he is able to do, and build up an opportunity an 'employment history' and get a reference for the longer term.

  • To give the other side of anti depressants, I took them on and off or years before my BI and only ever found them helpful, but the right one has to be found, so close monitoring with the Gap is required.

    The hospital put me back on them before I left after my BI and I took them for 3 years finally weaning myself off them when I felt able to under the watchful eye of the GP.

    It is irresponsible for anyone to give you advice if they are not medically trained, they can only tell you of their experiences, it is up to you with the guidance of the medical profession to make your own choices.

    Antidepressants are very useful as they correct an imbalance of chemicals in the brain.

    Janet x

  • Ditto what Janet has said. it's up to the individual and their caregiver whether antidepressants are appropriate.

    They need to be compatible with the patient's own chemistry which often means the first one prescribed isn't suitable. But when the right one is found, and kicks in, it can be life-saver.

    So sorry your son has to deal with all this Sambo ; I'm sure it's been heart-breaking for you both. xx

  • I was wondering about that Janet, people saying how anti depressants are the worst thing ever & to get off them straight away, but like the people saying this, I'm no doctor so didn't know quite what to write. So well done for addressing that.

    As U said, finding the right anti depressant is essential. I actually stated taking a mood stabilizer which definitely helped me ;o)

  • The above replies are all good. I volunteered as help for reading with kids at a local primary school to start with, and useful as it was, the Fatigue impact this had was a big wake up call for me in terms of how undemanding any serious hours would have to be.

    Supported work, volunteering, uncontracted self-employed work all allow a toe to be dipped in; plunging head first into something he finds too much could dent his confidence, and I found that what family saw as a lack of confidence being part of my problem was in fact very well justified. Acquiring new skills/needing to be holding a lot of 'live' information in his head are likely to be problematic; one year in he is in all likelihood far from his final capacity, and speaking to folk who've been there and are a few more years down the road may help if he hasn't done so already. It's important to not tax himself so much that life outside any work becomes a bad-tempered headache, as I'm sure many will testify ;-)

    You've come to the right place, and if you can get an experienced hand on board (Occupational Therapist, whatever) that would help you all choose a good pathway

    Bards x

  • I have been on anti-depressants for the last ten years, since my TBI.

    I find them another tool I can use as and when I need, I am on the maximum dosage for the type I am on, however, during the summer months when the days are longer and somewhat brighter, I am able to reduce the dosage, and often miss a day between doses.

    I also have a ''light box'' or S.A.D. box that I use especially during the darker shorter winter days, ten minutes sat with that on and it works a treat!

    Having had 6 months of expert rehabilitation, where they were able to give me a professional prognosis of my future abilities at a world class rehabilitation centre, even they had to admit, that whilst it was a miracle I even survived my accident and injuries, it would be highly unlikely that I would ever return to full time paid employment, at best I may be able to manage part time low paid work, but more than likely it would be that I would volunteer, and that is exactly what I do now.

    Even volunteering can seem overwhelming sometimes, and that is what I find the most daunting. I too have damaged my frontal lobe, and if I have too much going on at once, in one day, then my attention is not focused on what it is I am doing at the time, so I become a liability, not only to myself but to others around me, then if there are distractions, other people, noise, lights, then my attention is drawn to those, not only that the sheer brain fatigue has a massive impact on my behaviour, if I am too overwhelmed by my surroundings then I need to get out and get out fast.

    Whilst Dr's and GP's might like us to return to work, because we look 'normal' or as my GP put it, ''You're only 38, don't write yourself off just yet'', they have no idea what it is like to live with a BI, and even telling my GP that 'I need to keep my life as simple as possible' was met with a classic ''Well we all do'', uneducated flippant remark.

    Let him go at his own pace, he is barely into his recovery yet, although you make the most obvious improvement during the first two years of your recovery, you still make small gains from then on, and the Anti depressants will be to help him cope with the falls he is going to make on his road to recovery.

  • To add to my previous post I noted that Amytryptaline is routinely prescribed to help BI sufferers with many residual problems including nerve pain etc, this is also an antidepressant that has other uses. So don't be too ready to rubbish the efficacy of said antidepressants.

    Janet

  • My last post disappeared so here goes he repeat.

    To add to my previous post I I'll just add that Amytyptaline, prescribed to many after BI, has antidepressant in its arsenal of uses.

    So don't rubbish the efficacy of antidepressants.

    Janet

  • My posts keep disappearing

  • I couldn't believe when reading your post it is identical to my son who like yours at 19 was assaulted and suffered TBI and massive bleed in the brain frontal lobe... Was on life support in ICU and we were told to expect the worst. Like you're son he eventually pulled through. Fortunately he did return to work but had to have a phased return and had to reduce his hours as he could not function for long periods and is unable to plan and process things, this was in 2013. It has been one hell of a struggle he's had an OT and many sessions with a Neurophsycologist. He has been taking Amitriptiline for two years now and more recently has had his dosage doubled (now on25mg). He doesn't sleep at night he's impulsive his behaviour can be childish at times, forgets things , the list is endless and we see a very different son but others just see he's fine and well and recovered they don't know the half of it. If I'm honest he's hanging on to his job... Doesn't meet his KPIs can be late, and forgets things at work. I worry about his future like you are now for your son. I would suggest voluntary work in the first instance so he doesn't feel pressured to be on time and can take regular breaks. I'm sure something will turn up but I think like us we've had to accept our son is unlikely to achieve what he would have done prior to his brain injury and I have to remind myself when I'm totally stressed out with him that he is alive and functioning and still with us today. Please start positive I know it's hard . ... Keep intouch and best of luck ... Caroline x

  • Thanks Caroline, I am really sad that this happened to your son too. My parents say that it is like their grandson did die that night and he was replaced by another. We are just so thankful that he is here with us. The night it happened was the same day that my granddad died. When were eventually allowed to see him my husband collapsed in shock and my daughter started to scream, I was just numb. To hold his hand and get no response was heart breaking. I prayed that if he was going to die that I would have to die too. To this day I still feel so guilty for wanting to die and leave my daughter and family behind. I just couldn't bare the thought of life carrying on without my baby boy. I have nightmares and flashbacks of him being in a coma and all the machines beeping around him. I have been treated through counselling, but my mind always seems to go back to those dreadful times. I am trying so hard to be positive, but everyday seems to throw something else at us. We seem to be getting somewhere, then something happens to knock him back. I know it is going to be a lengthy recovery and his/ our lives are not going to be the same again, but like you say he is here with us, it could gave been so different.

    Wow, sorry about that, but it feels good to get it off my chest.

    Next bit :)

    The problem I have with my son is that he has no memory of what happened to him, so wants to live his life as if nothing has happened to him. I struggle to get help form professional's due to Cal being 19. They insist on talking to him as he is an adult, but anything that is discussed he forgets. Appointments have been made with him but he has no memory of what has been arranged so doesn't turn up. I have managed to get further appointments with the neuropsychologist and OT and a nurse from our local brain injury centre, all happening within the next week. We have seen them in the past but Cal has said that he doesn't need help so has been discharged, it is so frustrating. He sleeps most of the day as his friends work so he 'can't see the point' in getting out of bed. Since being on his meds his moods have started to be a bit brighter. He is very impulsive with money and will spend any he gets almost immediately, but has nothing to show for it and doesn't remember what he has spent it on. When he gets cross he 'really' gets cross, and his temper is often in my direction. He very rarely lost his temper before his injury.

    His friends treat him as if he was the old Cal, although do tease him when he starts to repeat conversations that he has forgotten.

    I am going to talk to him about voluntary work, I can imagine his reaction but he might surprise me.

    I just wish that I could wave a magic wand and make everything back to normal, I have to accept that this is what it is going to be like maybe forever. Thank you again for your supportive words and I am sorry for the lengthy reply.

    Sam x

  • My daughter's situation is different to your son's although she is a similar age. She too is looking at how she can earn herself a living and it's not easy. However, between us we are currently checking out healthy eating and vitamins to give her brain the best chance to work effectively. It also helps her to gain some control and interest in how her brain and body are working. We use a good health shop to buy products and she is going to a nutritionist next week.

  • I haven't taken any anti-depressant tablets since my TBI 2yrs ago. I recommend keeping positive & busy via volunteers with YHA, National Trust and local Charities. They are sociable and would be useful to him to decide the type of job he wanted. Everything in life, pleasant or otherwise, happens for a reason.

    Hope things work out for you all.

  • This sounds exactly how I felt 20 years ago, well actually 15 when I finally said enough's enough after going in and out of hospital & rehabilitation centers for about 7 years.

    Like your son & most other people who have suffered a brain injury, I look & come across as perfectly normal. I tried & tried t get back into a ' normal ' work situation, got sacked from a few places, even tried to start my own business a few times, but that's difficult for someone who hasn't had a head injury. When U have it's near on impossible.

    Tell him to never give up, but he has to come t terms with the fact that he's not the same person with the same capabilities as he once was & now has to find a different path to follow.

    I moved up t Leeds & spent 9years collecting for charity, which made me feel worthwhile again. As it goes I must have raised over £150K for a local charity for whom I became a trustee. There were a few up's & down's but on the whole I was happy.

    I moved back down South a couple of years ago & said I was just going to take it easy, despite my mum & family trying to encourage me back into work. A fresh place, a fresh start.

    I refused for 8 months & wish I had listened to myself cos I was fine & happy, then the Richmond fellowship was mentioned to me who try to find people with a disability a way back to work. No disrespect to the Richmond Fellowship cos they do excellent work with disabled people. but that's when the depression's started again.

    I was going up & down like a bloody yo-yo for a year.

    Went to almost every business in Oxted, handing them my CV, even the likes of Morrisons, the cinema, a fish & chip shop and almost every pub in Oxted and I didn't get any response whatsoever.

    Now that's demotivating for anyone and will get most people down.

    If I looked disabled I'm sure they would have been biting my hand off cos in most respects I am very capable and that makes them look like a caring and compassionate business, but I have a disability that can't be seen & they get all the problems without any gratification.

    That's the only explanation I can think of anyway.

    Now a head / brain injury is different for everyone, although there are a lot of similarities that have become apparent after finding a site like this. You don't feel on your own & I'm sure there are plenty of people who have suffered a serious head injury who have gone back into a work situation successfully (although I do say this with total skepticism cos I don't know of any. Please tell me if U have returned successfully into your previous job cos I'm sure there are success stories out there, aren't there ??? )

    Anyway from my experience I would advise your son to find an alternative path to the one he used to have cos otherwise I'm sure he will struggle & probably fail.

    University will now be a major struggle unlikely to end positively & trying to follow the dreams he had before, I hate to say it, that is not going to happen.

    Mum, please be supportive of your son & try to direct him towards something that'll make him happy. Charity work is always very rewarding & there aren't the pressures, but U still feel worthwhile.

    I volunteer at a community cafe & also chat to the elderly once a week at Oxted community center. Ok I'm not going to be a millionaire anymore but I'm appreciated & feel worthwhile. And although I might not be particularly wealthy I live comfortably on ESA & by volunteering I don't feel like a scrounger.

    As it goes on ESA U can apply t do paid work and earn upto £100 for a year & I've recently com across something I'm sure I would be capable of, called Home Instead ( homeinstead.co.uk/Index.do ) which helps people manage in there own homes be it taking them to the shops or the park, general tidying that kind of thing, rather than work that's pressurised. Can anyone reading this who'shad a head injury cope with pressure

    It'll be interesting to see the conflicting views or whether they do generally say similar.

    Good luck to your son in whatever path he takes & it would be interesting to keep us all updated on his progress.

    Take Care, Stace

  • I submitted the last reply by mistake as I hadn't finished.

    My employer kept my job open for me until I admitted it just wasn't going to happen. Yes I look fine but I can't even do the housework any more, let alone do a job. I'd be a nightmare to risk assess, I used to do those in he workplace so know it wouldn't be possible.

    My niece has MS and was diagnosed at 19, so had never worked. With learning support she gained a degree and volunteered for Childline for many years. Now, 10 years on she has finally gained employment within the NHS. The years of volunteering helped her manage her condition and also proved that she was able to commit and her health was good enough.

    She had many years of heartache but it has finally come good for her, for how long, no-one knows but all is good at the present time.

    Janet x

  • Hi Stace, well said, I fortunately! Am retired now so no longer under pressure to work. My employ

  • Thanks everybody for your replies and advice, my internet has been down the reason I haven't been in touch. Over Easter it will be the anniversary of my sons injury and I have become really down over the last week suffering with flashbacks. To be honest I have suffered flashbacks since it happened and had terrible nightmares. Your comments have really helped me to realise that we are not alone and that there is some hope for the future x

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