This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on Changes in Memory After TBI. Dr. Angelle Sander discusses Memory Problems and Returning to Work After TBI.

Memory problems typically affect job procedures that you are in the process of learning. So if you worked in a job for 15 years prior to injury, then the procedures that you knew well before your injury, you're likely to remember. But you'll have difficulty learning as things change and have difficulty maybe applying some of the policies to new situations.

So the types of memory problems after a traumatic brain injury are not so much for information that was well-learned before the injury, but it's for new information and new variations on the information. So if a person is in an advisory, a supervisory role after a traumatic brain injury, then they are likely to have difficulty maybe juggling different responsibilities.

So things that would have come easily to them before, they may have to spend more time thinking about, including remembering information. It may not be right there available to them when they need it. They may have to spend more time or mental effort to call it up. And so that can decrease their overall functioning in that role, in that supervisory role.

It's important to develop strategies that can make things easier for you at work so that, if you're finding you have to put forth more mental effort to do the job, having strategies can help to reduce that effort and make things more natural like they were before the injury.

So for example, having checklists of procedures right on your desk or right in the area where you work that you can just look at if you do get stuck, and you do get in a situation where you're just not able to remember something – that can be really helpful, and it can reduce the stress on the job.

Having a memory notebook or using your cell phone and taking notes during meetings that you can review after the meeting so that you're not having to rely on your memory can also be helpful.

After a traumatic brain injury, it's often not possible for a person to do the exact same job that they did before injury, but that doesn't mean that they can't work in the same industry or that they won't be able to find a job that draws on the strengths they have now and also is something that they're interested in.

So an important thing to do is to work with a vocational counselor. That vocational counselor can do testing to determine what your current strengths and weaknesses are after the injury and then also what your interests are. It can help you find a way to match your pattern of strengths and weaknesses with a job that you would find interesting.

Many states also have state vocational rehabilitation services available, and if you are accepted into those services, they can also help you to find a job that is consistent with your current abilities, and often they have job coaches that can start out with you on a particular job and work with you to learn the procedures for that job and help you to be more successful.

Sometimes, after a traumatic brain injury, it's not possible to return to the exact same job that you had before injury.

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