Cognitive and vocational rehabilitation after mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury: A randomised controlled trial
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background: Returning to work is often a primary rehabilitation goal after traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, the evidence base for treatment options regarding return to work (RTW) and stable work maintenance remains scarce. Objective: This study aimed to examine the effect of a combined cognitive and vocational intervention on work-related outcomes after mild-to-moderate TBI. Methods: In this study, we compared 6 months of a combined compensatory cognitive training and supported employment (CCT-SE) intervention with 6 months of treatment as usual (TAU) in a randomised controlled trial to examine the effect on time to RTW, work percentage, hours worked per week and work stability. Eligible patients were those with mild-to-moderate TBI who were employed ≥ 50% at the time of injury, 18 to 60 years old and sick-listed ≥ 50% at 8 to 12 weeks after injury due to post-concussion symptoms, assessed by the Rivermead Post Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire. Both treatments were provided at the outpatient TBI department at Oslo University Hospital, and follow-ups were conducted at 3, 6 and 12 months after inclusion. Results: We included 116 individuals, 60 randomised to CCT-SE and 56 to TAU. The groups did not differ in characteristics at the 12-month follow-up. Overall, a high proportion had returned to work at 12 months (CCT-SE, 90%; TAU, 84%, P = 0.40), and all except 3 were stably employed after the RTW. However, a significantly higher proportion of participants in the CCT-SE than TAU group had returned to stable employment at 3 months (81% vs. 60%, P = 0.02). Conclusion: These results suggest that the CCT-SE intervention might help patients with mild-to-moderate TBI who are still sick-listed 8 to 12 weeks after injury in an earlier return to stable employment. However, the results should be replicated and a cost-benefit analysis performed before concluding.