We investigated the relationship of neurologic, neuropsychological, and social interaction impairments to the work status of a large sample of penetrating head-injured patients wounded some 15 years earlier during combat in Vietnam. Extensive standardized testing of neurologic, neuropsychological, and social functioning was done at follow-up on each head-injured patient (N = 520), as well as on a sample of uninjured controls (N = 85). Fifty-six percent of the head-injured patients were working at follow-up compared with 82% of the uninjured controls. Seven systematically defined impairments proved to be most correlated with work status. These were post-traumatic epilepsy, paresis, visual field loss, verbal memory loss, visual memory loss, psychological problems, and violent behavior. These disabilities had a cumulative and nearly equipotent effect upon the likelihood of work. We suggest that a simple summed score of the number of these seven disabilities can yield a residual 'disability score' which may prove to be a practical tool for assessing the likelihood of return to work for patients in this population and perhaps in other brain-injured populations. These findings may also help to focus rehabilitation efforts on those disabilities most likely to affect return to work.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology