How many people work after a bad head injury? - Headway


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How many people work after a bad head injury?


I saw someone's comment, below, about getting a new job. How many people work, after a head injury?

I got a bad TBI in 2005. I was in a coma for weeks, and hospital for months, and I was off work for 18 months in total. But they let me back, in the end. They stopped paying me sick-pay, but they said I could 'try' to go back, when I 'was better'. We ended up having a meeting at the hospital that I'd been 'rehabilitating' at. The psychologist and consultant who had dealt with me talked to my head of department, who said yes, I could 'try' (which meant, come for 3 months, then we'll decide whether you can stay). Thankfully, they let me stay!

I just took all of this as normal, but now I think I'm incredibly lucky - both that I'm able to work (although not as well as I used to, I admit!), but also that the university let me have the chance. I am a lecturer. My speech is not the way it used to be, and I'm certain I wouldn't get a lecturing job from scratch, now, but the university let me go back, and I'm doing fine.

How many other TBI survivors work? Lots? Or very few?

17 Replies

I would love to try and go back to work, but it's been a while and I'm not up to date with changes in my area of work, anyone know of any government scheme to help retrain?

Well done getting back to the job you had before your TBI, I'm sure it can't be easy at times.

I'm holding on to the hope that I'll be back at work soon though the longer it's taking tor me to get there, the more frightened I become! At present I think I'd be able to do something, albeit something different to the work I did prior to my BI, but my work don't seem to want the new me and fit me in, they appear to be rigid on the fact that 'this is your job title and this is what we need you to do'. However training for something else is a near impossibility at the moment whether it's with the same employer or a new one. So maybe I'm just dreaming and the life I had is gone and I need to accept that. On the other hand, without hope I dont know where I'd be!

Best wishes :-)

Hidden in reply to Puffle

only action can tell

how will you know

i stand in corners

talk backwards

an turn round in circles

i hope im going in right direction

oh yea if life has gone

what you living now

life goes on an on an on

dont live under stones

build a whole new world with them

this is if you can get a job

what did you do before an did you enjoy it


My accident occurred in July 1967 and I was unconscious for a month. I was discharged early September 1967 and started my first job a week later. In March 1968 I was sacked thanks to my peculiar behaviour. In 1968 I had a large number of jobs for a month, two months duration and so on, all ending with the sack.

Not flummoxed by this I continued, in 1970 I went attended part time college for further qualifications, in 1974 I gained them with distinction. I also married [big mistake] and divorced 3 years later only to remarry again. It's been 36 years to date.

I've been in my current position for 16 years; the previous to that was 16 years and the one before that 10 years. You'll note that after my accident it took me just four years to settle down into some normal existence where I managed to keep my temper.

So, in answer to your question, Yes and start as soon as possible. If you are 'professional' and can't get a job doing what you did before, no matter - go and do something different. I was once a removal man.

I started training to be a Telecom Engineer but went on to work in a science based environment.

So it can be done, with a strong will and a need to succeed.

Hidden in reply to Hidden

well said

kel1203 in reply to Hidden

Well said...indeed


Hi Flumptious,

Thank you for posting this interesting question - this is an area where there has been a fair amount of research.

If you go to:

Skip to page 5 and there is a summary of a few studies into this.

One showed that 4-7 years after mild TBI there was no decrease in full-time employment, a 13% decrease after moderate TBI and a decrease of 42% after severe TBI. Another study in Glasgow showed that after severe TBI only 29% were employed 2-7 years after the injury.

We also ran an interesting poll on this community when we first set up, asking how brain injury affected peoples' careers. You can view the results at

The over-riding lesson seems to be that proper assessment and support is essential, and can sometimes be difficult to find!

Please don't hesitate to ask if you need any more information, and I look forward to seeing more of our members' stories on here.

Best wishes,



I flew in the military for a living and after my head injury was grounded. However, through a mix of self-denial, institutional doctor-avoidance and pretending to be fine, I got back to flying and it was another year or so before my new limitations led a friend to 'suggest' I get some medical help. He was of course right and that was the end of my flying (and military) career. I haven't worked since and much as I would love to, I can't see myself working again.

I had tried to go back to work in Air taffic control but i couldnt make head or tail of the information that was coming thru the head set. It would take me so long to do one METAR( weather observation and recording) that it would be out of date time wise before it went onto tape. I was so slow and made mistakes with writing registations down and it was all so difficult. I had a few talks with the management and they suggested i had someone piggy back me (babysitting) till they were confident i could be safe to do the job. I then had to do a medical with the CAA doctors. They retired me on the spot.

I then saw the neuro phsyc and then got ABI team input etc. I didnt think therre was anything wrong with me and i couldnt understand how it was so hard to do what i had been doing for years without thinking to much about it. It broke my heart but i did need the help.

8 yrs on and i am 6 months into my first post injury job. Its at a primary school as a primary school assistant, i also do suppot for learning. It was the scouts that opened this door for me. I have been an occasional helper then a committee member then i became a leader. They do modular learning and the courses are as short or long as you need them to be. You have alot or as little support as you need. Because of this and the courses i have done and due to working with children, i got the job in school. I had to volunteer first. then i got 7 hours paid then 16 hrs piad then 21 now 28hrs paid. It been very tough as i get so very tired and it impacts the family life. I also have needed the medications adjusted and i have other ortho problems now that need addressing.

Working is good. It is not so good when i cant manage time and i am always working late and missing breaks and turning up in wrong classes. I hope they will keep me on at the end of the temp contract in June. I only get support from cornerstone for 6 months and i dont know why. The job centre helped me to get work after the Incap benefit changed to ESA. I was in WAG group for a year then i needed to earn to keep the family in our home.

Its hard to know that the family rests on my shoulders again, especially when i cant perform to the level expected.

As an ex service person the rehab team said we do better because we just do what we are told, I just dont know when to stop!

I had a severe TBI in Sept 2009, got back to work almost exactly 3 years later.

i AM 3 YEARS on and i think i would be a danger to the rest of the staff if i worked,,,,my planning organising and remembering instruction is pants. i think i could only do washing up and evem that would be a task.I had a frontal lobe heammorhage and a blow to the leftside of my head. I feel well bad that some folks on here went back to work so quick and can cope with it.My short term memory is so poor. I would forget so much stuff.I have to look up nearly all big words i spell. What is wrong with me if other people can work after a short time.?

What is wrong with you? That awful TBI, of course! The only reason people like me can go back to work is that we are really lucky! Some injuries are worse than others.

Sending hugs, and sympathy.

My head injury happened in October 2012, I'm in the early recovery moment now, but I'm lucky enough to have a job which will still be there when I'm ready to return. I would like to go back to work in a few months, although I know that's not going to be possible. It frustrates me, but my brain, or OUR brains need to recover before we can use them, fully. So I have to wait, but it will happen! :)

I got a medical discharge from the Merchant Navy and apart from blagging my way into a night shift at a care home 5 years post TBI I've not had paid work since. I did some voluntary in a coffee shop but they changed the lights and my epilepsy came back so I had to leave. Am on ESA now and have yearly medicals but so far I've not been put in the work group. If I did work it would have to be for someone very understanding. Am 55 and think most employees would chose someone fully functioning over me anyway. My dd shredded all my exam certificates cos she said they were not a reflection of me now. It was a mean thing to do but she was right lol

18 months post-haemorrhage... I went back to work, in my old job, something like 7 weeks after the emergency surgery. I started off on mornings-only, but it was exceptionally frustrating, because I was trying to do a whole day's work, in half a day, I'm surprised I didn't make more mistakes than I did. I looked 'normal', and, apart from the occasional episode of fatigue, I thought I was doing OK, so I was back at work, with no 'reasonable adjustments', full-time, roughly 3 months after the rupture.

Fast-forward to now, I'm signed off sick, because I was trying to live up to other people's expectations of 'normal', and I acknowledge that I'm not.

It IS possible to work, and to return to work, after a Brain Injury, but the employers need to know what they're working with. Mine didn't.

I was self employed prior to TBI and have a part time business too.

Been lucky to carry on with both and it's brilliant because I can set my own workloads and don't have to ask the boss for time out.

My part time business is home based and hours can be to suit so it's ideal.

If anyone would like to find out more, drop me a private message.

Hidden in reply to Teynboy


What sort of thing do you do?

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