Recommendations of vocational rehabilitation services by hospital discharge planners working with patients with traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries
Rubino, Renee K.
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Every year millions of Americans sustain an injury as a result of a major trauma to the central nervous system (CNS). In an overwhelming majority of these cases the injury results in a lifelong permanent disability. An estimated $158 billion is spent each year on rehabilitation for people who become disabled. This study focuses on two injuries to the CNS, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and spinal cord injuries (SCI). Patients recovering from a TBI or SCI not only suffer from physical impairments but also psychological and emotional difficulties. Traditionally, hospital recovery programs have focused on helping patients achieve maximum independence in daily living by remediation of their physical limitations. Often neglected are services that help to encourage the patients’ independence, potential productivity, vocational success, quality of life, and social participation. The state-federal vocational rehabilitation (VR) program provides assistance to persons with disabilities focusing on the areas of vocational and independent-living training. The state-federal VR program offers vital services for people with TBI and SCI as they are ready to be discharged from the hospital. These services can help with the emotional adjustment to becoming disabled as well as helping the patient reenter the community as a productive member. The purpose of this study is to gain information on the training and/or information that hospital discharge planners have about VR services and whether they recommend VR to their patients with TBI and SCI via traumas. This study examines the characteristics of hospital discharge planners, what they know about TBI and SCI and how they learned it, and what they know about VR and where they learned about it. Also of interest was whether discharge planners recommend and/or provide information in VR to TBI or SCI patients and what factors impact the discharge planners’ knowledge and recommendations of VR. Due to a poor response rate, results are inconclusive. However, it appears that discharge planners with higher degrees in social services fields are more likely to recommend VR and most would like to receive more information about it.