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Tuesday, October 20, 1998 Published at 23:05 GMT 00:05 UK


Brain injury victims cannot find work

Brain injuries can spell doom for employment prospects

Thousands of young brain injury victims face lives of social exclusion because they do not receive proper support or guidance, it has been claimed.

The charity Rehab UK says as many as 60,000 people with brain injuries a year - 60% of the total - fail to find work after discharge from hospital.

Although most make a good recovery from their physical symptoms, many receive no vocational help at all.

Rehab UK says that - apart from the emotional misery - the cost to the tax payer is £266m per annum.

In a new report, the charity says: "Since brain injury victims are usually young people, the accumulative cost is enormous. Literally, hundreds of thousands of million over their accumulative lifetimes."

[ image: Many brain injuries occur in road traffic accidents]
Many brain injuries occur in road traffic accidents
More than half of brain injuries (58%) occur in road traffic accidents. One in five are caused by falls, and a further 15% by assaults.

Nine out of 10 people with brain injuries suffer psychological impairment, three-quarters intellectual impairment and 44% pain and headaches.

Judith Horrocks, an assistant psychologist for Rehab UK, said a combination of factors stopped brain injury victims holding down work.

She said: "People with brain injuries may suffer emotional problems such as anxiety and depression, and sometimes they can become very dependent on others. They can lose their self-confidence and feel unable to go back to work."

Unable to hold down work

Ms Horrocks said other people went back to work, but were unable to hold a job down.

"Rehabilitation tends to concentrate on physical improvement, and some people are not aware of their cognitive impairments such as problems with memory and planning," she said.

"They go back to work, but are not able to perform the job as they used to, and employers become unhappy."

Three-quarters of brain injury victims who took part in a pilot programme at the Rehab UK Brain Injury Vocational Centre in Birmingham successfully found work.

This compares to the national average figure of just 30% of victims who manage to return to work without guidance.

The Chairman of Rehab UK, George Wilson, said: "The social benefits of facilitating young people, many with a significant contribution to make to society, to move from social exclusion to social inclusion and economic independence, are enormous."

Rehab UK has vocational training centres in Birmingham and Manchester. Two further centres in London were opened this week.

The aim of the centres is to place at least half of the clients in jobs or further education and training in the first year of operation, and then to steadily increase the percentage as the centres become established.

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