March 3, 2017. Two disabling neurological conditions share March Awareness Month – multiple sclerosis (MS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). These conditions share other things as well, including causing an array of cognitive, emotional and physical disabilities, and presenting barriers to finding and maintaining employment. Because employment is fundamental to productive and independent living, research is underway at Kessler Foundation to address the spectrum of challenges faced by individuals living with MS and TBI.
“MS strikes people in their prime,” says Dr. John O’Neill, director of Disability & Employment Research, “and many leave the workplace prematurely, a decision that can be detrimental to quality of life. Our researchers are looking at what factors into this decision, toward the goal of developing a predictive model of employment for the MS population. Health care providers using this tool would be better able to help people retain their jobs.”
Researchers are also looking at the factors affecting employment after TBI. “Studies show that employment status at one year post-injury is a key determinant of life satisfaction,” Dr. O’Neill noted, “but this diverse population faces substantial challenges. How to help to overcome those challenges is being investigated. Some important factors have been identified by researchers, including pre-injury employment and education, the cause of brain injury, whether amnesia occurred and for how long, the length of time spent in acute care and in rehabilitation, and vocational scores at discharge from rehabilitation.”