Improving the ability of employers to communicate with brain injured workers

Imagine if we could educate employers and co-workers to better understand and form more effective partnerships with employees who have sustained a brain injury? This would make an already challenging process of returning to work so much easier for everyone. Acquired Brain Injury Outreach Service (ABIOS) Speech Pathologist and Hopkins Centre researcher Clare Morgan is currently working with a program that could improve the ability of many employers in Queensland to understand and support their employees who have brain injury. Difficulty with effective communication following a brain injury is quite common and can be an enormous challenge to overcome, particularly within the demands of the work context. Communication encompasses a complex interplay of speaking, understanding, writing and reading information.  On a daily basis, Clare confronts the negative impact of poor communication and misunderstandings between people with brain injury and their communication partner(s). A person’s difficulty communicating often stands in the way of many social activities, but particularly returning to work. On the other hand, the ability to engage in positive social interactions is often what makes the difference between successful and unsuccessful employment. It seemed obvious to Clare that increasing the capacity of employers (and employees) in the workplace to have a better understanding of practical communication strategies should lead to more supportive and effective communicative interactions, and lead to more sustainable vocational outcomes for people with brain injury.

Clare is currently collaborating with a team of Speech Pathologists to investigate ways to increase the social participation of people with impaired communication following brain injury.  Together with Dr Emma Finch from UQ and Prof Leanne Togher and Dr Emma Power from University of Sydney, Clare’s research project is underway and is based around the TBI Express program. This program has been developed by Prof Leanne Togher, Dr Emma Power and colleagues, and directly addresses the communication challenges that  often occur between people who have experienced a brain injury and their conversation partners. TBI Express is a unique program that provides a simple set of strategies for increasing the likelihood of positive interactions with people who have communication challenges following a brain injury. The program has been evaluated across a range of contexts and has shown a significant positive impact on the ability of family members, therapists, police officers, and paid carers to effectively communicate with and support someone with a brain injury.

Leanne will be visiting Brisbane in November when she and Clare will be trialling a version of the TBI Express that will be tailored to a specific audience.  The data collected from the communication training aims to inform the future feasibility of delivering communication partner training to other populations, such as planners, employers, case managers and co-workers to enhance the likelihood of successful participation and social inclusion of people who have experienced a brain injury.

Check out more about this project at


Tags: Acquired Brain Injury Outreach Service, ABIOS, Speech Pathologist, Collaborating, Social Participation, Brain Injury

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