Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Follow-Up of Persons with Litigation Related Injuries

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Follow-Up of Persons with Litigation Related Injuries

Article excerpt

Follow-up of Persons with Litigation Related Injuries

One of the more perplexing problems in vocational rehabilitation is the prediction of client success. When first confronted with a client who is disabled, the rehabilitation professional has little research data to assist in determining the person's chances of success and the specific barriers to success. Reviews and predictive studies (Bolton, 1972; Carlsson & Corbett 1987; Moriarty, Walls & McLaughlin, 1987; Poole, 1987; Rubin, Bolton & Sally, 1973; Vander Kolk & Springfiled, 1985) have shown that characteristics such as younger age, higher intelligence, and higher education are related to positive vocational rehabilitation outcome.

Previous research has demonstrated that many factors contribute to client difficulty in returning to employment. These factors may include lack of transferable skills to reduced exertional limits, inability to emotionally cope with the disability, chronic pain, sexual dysfunction, financial disincentives etc. (Beaudet & Rasch, 1988; Borgen, Amundson & Biela, 1987; Eaton, 1979; Garron & Leavitt, 1983; Huenke, 1982; Nagi, 1969; Rasch, 1985; Schlenoff, 1979). Stewart, Chubon, and Ososkie (1988) have discussed the degree of limitation imposed by an injury and the implications for future vocational potential, employability status and earnings capacity. They recommend that vocational experts address numerous variables related to an injured person's degree of vocational disability. Vocational factors and earnings capacity assessment were viewed as most important by the various groups surveyed.

This study focused on injured persons' vocational and psychological status months and years after injury. Although a majority of injured people return to work (Sawyer, 1976), 400,000 per year must seek a new job (Rasch, 1985). In some cases the new job must accommodate residual functional capacities and limitations. Nagi (1969) was an early presenter of information on people injured sufficiently to impair their ability to work, at least on temporary basis. Others such as Newman, Perry and Pan (1985), Nussbaum, Puig, Schneidmuhl and Schaffer (1981), and Vander Kolk and Stewart (1988) have added knowledge concerning the characteristics of injured persons. The commonly found composite description of an injured worker is someone who is blue collar, carried out medium to heavy exertion work, have limited reading and arithmetic skills, most often have musculoskeletal injuries, fall in the age group from early thirties to early fifties, and are most frequently married men. From a general vocational rehabilitation caseload in the state/federal system Harrison and Crystal (1982) found the successful rehabilitation clients averaged 20.3 months in the system, and clients closed non-rehabilitation averaged 24.9 months in the system.

One might presume that persons injured on the job would experience a degree of success in returning to the work world. Not only do they have public and private rehabilitation sectors available to them, the injured worker who has the history of work experience has an advantage over many rehabilitation clients who have never been meaningfully employed. Yet, unemployment rates are quite high for industrially injured workers (Conley & Noble, 1978).

The purpose of this research was to investigate the physical, emotional, vocational, and financial status of injured workers several years post-injury. The research questions to be answered were:

* Would a large proportion of injured persons continue to have physical restrictions, psychological adjustment problems, or employment difficulties?

* Were injured persons receiving assistance (medical, psychological, vocational, financial) years after injury?

* Do injured persons seek employment? What are the major barriers to employment? How many return to work?

* In which ways are the injured people who return to work different from those who remain unemployed? …

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