Returning to work after stroke: a review

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Abstract

This review focuses on the experiences and rehabilitation needs of working age, higher functioning stroke survivors in relation to their ‘return to work’. It grew out of the poststroke experience of one of the authors and her realization of the inadequacy of services to facilitate return to work and optimal recovery from stroke. The authors' aim is to present a practice-oriented review that can provide information for future practice and research. Returning to work and sustaining employment are considered key aspects of rehabilitation and recovery by younger stroke survivors. From a psychosocial perspective, successful return to work can enhance recovery and life satisfaction by consolidating self-esteem, confidence and social identity. However, even higher functioning stroke survivors with minimal or no obvious physical disability may experience workplace challenges relating to their neurological condition. Appropriate rehabilitation would include specific preparation for return to work, education within the workplace to facilitate return to work, participation by the stroke survivor in all aspects of the management of their return to work, and an ongoing role for a stroke educator/workplace advocate. In conclusion, further research is required in this area to support stroke survivors in returning to and maintaining employment to achieve their poststroke potential. Thirteen recommendations arising from the existing literature and the lived experience of one of the authors are presented at the end of the review.

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