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Posted by Lauren Lechner Aug 15 2013
Stroke is often associated with the elderly. But in reality, nearly one quarter of strokes occur in people under the age of 65, many of whom are part of the workforce.
It can be important for a stroke survivor to return to work. Aside from the obvious benefits of working, such as income and health insurance, many people view their job as part of their identity and independence.
Close to 50 percent of stroke survivors under 65 return to the workforce, either in full- or part-time jobs.
What’s Standing in Your Way?
If and when you can return to your job depends on the severity of your stroke and the aftereffects you experience. For some survivors, returning to work is not an option. Others must overcome barriers or make adjustments before they can successfully go back to work.
Common barriers include:
• Physical disability
• Memory and cognitive problems
• Employer attitudes, supportiveness and understanding of stroke
• Physical work environment
• Stigma associated with stroke
Things to Think About
If you are considering going back to work after a stroke, you should consider if you want to work full- or part-time and if you want to continue working in the same job or for the same employer you had before your stroke.
Volunteering is a good way to ease back into working. You can gain new skills and feel good about making a contribution to a cause you care about.
Vocational therapy may be a good addition to your rehabilitation plan. In vocational therapy, the focus is on getting back to paid employment. Vocational therapy can include a variety of tasks, such as business or vocational instruction, computer training, communication training or college classes.
Vocational therapy can also assist survivors with new physical or emotional needs in finding new employment settings. Vocational counselors may administer aptitude tests and other skill tests to find suitable career paths. They then help you with interview preparation, resume workshops and job re-training.
If you are interested in returning to work, you should consult your healthcare team and ask if you are ready to go back to work. It’s important not to rush yourself to perform tasks that you aren’t ready for. The best thing you can do is be honest with yourself and dedicated to your recovery.
>>The Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor, can assist both stroke survivors and employers with return-to-work assistance and information.
>>For more information and resources to help you get back to work, visit www.stroke.org/faces_work.
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