INSNET, Spring 1999

Structure

The project functions in the following manner: Any person, who has sustained a verified brain injury can be referred to the project. After acceptance by the project-group, which consists of a neuropsychologist, a social worker and a handicap consultant, an evaluation has to be, performed. This consists of a neuropsychological assessment with the specific purpose of emphasizing a therapeutic relationship between the applicant and the neuropsychologist.

The brain injured person's work colleague, either from the previous or new workplace of the brain injured person, is selected to provide personal support for a period that can last from 6 to 18 months. The workplace receives economic compensation from the project for the Support Person's salary. In addition, the Support Person and the workplace are provided with information about brain injury in general. The neuropsychologist from the Center for Rehabilitation of Brain Injury, who has knowledge of both brain functioning in general, and most often of the brain injured patient in question, provides further information about the

individual's resources and deficits.

The integrated nature of the project is obvious as, (a) various professions are involved as previously described, (b) different sectors at a state, county and municipal level, are included, which allows for a more efficient use of resources. In addition, colleagues at the workplace become informed of the nature of brain injury.

Content

The Support Person should be someone fully acquainted with the organization and the demands of the workplace, and likewise acquainted with the other members of the staff with whom the brain injured person will work.

The Support Person will typically work in close physical proximity to the brain injured and can be called upon by the latter when needed, to assist with whatever task he/she has in hand.

The neuropsychologist is similarly responsible for the ongoing follow-up and support of the Support Person and other colleagues in the workplace. This involves visiting the workplace at least once a month, and perhaps more frequently when required. It is very important to emphasize the quality of the direct ongoing contact between the neuropsychologist and the brain injured person in providing support and feed-back. The neuropsychological feedback is essential for good results. The project group involved meet at least once monthly to monitor the cases currently engaged in the project and to consider new referrals. The referrals can be made from various sources (e.g. hospitals, municipalities, etc.) in Frederiksborg county.

The broad range of expertise in this group is regarded as essential for the success of the project.

Results

From a clinical perspective, the results appear encouraging. Three and a half years after the commencement of the project, 70 subjects have been referred to the project. Of these, 33 were not accepted, due to difficulties such as not fulfilling the criteria of the project, (geographic relocation, etc.)

Of the 37 participants accepted, 22 have now completed the project. Of these, 17 are normally employed and five are unemployed. Of the remaining 15 subjects, six are in transition, awaiting completion of neuropsychological assessment and treatment. Currently, nine subjects are in the project with their Support Person.

Approximately 85% of the subjects accepted into the project seem to have had success in going back to either their former workplace or a new workplace.

Experience with the project has largely been promising and has underlined the importance of (a) providing neuropsychological information, and (b) motivating all the parties involved. It has shown the advisability of openness in work placement, such that other employees are aware of the arrangement and are made aware that the brain injured colleague is not to be treated as if he or she were ill, but simply as someone who has been away from the job, or got a new job, and who at least initially needs to learn to cope with the demands of the job. Similarly, it has confirmed the benefit of having the on-site Support Person assisting with the coping process.

In July 1998, a change in Danish social legislation, influenced in part by the aforementioned experiences, has now made it possible for brain injured persons all over Denmark to be entitled to the state support necessary to finance the implementation of a Support Person arrangement at an appropriate place of employment.

Reference

This project has also been described in: Teasdale, T.W. and Siert. L. (1997). Rehabilitation for Employment and Leisure Activities. (pp. 469 - 483) in J. Leon - Carrion ( E d . ) Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, Innovations and Directions. Lucie Press, Florida.

VOLUNTEER NEEDED to manage a database and create a directory of worldwide neuropsychology societies, groups, and key individuals that would be freely distributed by the ILC.

If interested in a rewarding project to facilitate international communications among colleagues, contact the INSNET Editor, Lloyd Cripe, Ph.D. via Email at lcripe@olympus.net.

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