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Returning to work after stroke: a review

Wolfenden, Barbara*; Grace, Marty

International Journal of Rehabilitation Research: June 2009 - Volume 32 - Issue 2 - p 93-97
doi: 10.1097/MRR.0b013e328325a358
Review article

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.

Social Work Unit, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia

Correspondence to Dr Marty Grace, PhD, Social Work Unit, St Albans Campus, Victoria University, PO Box 14428, Melbourne 8001, Australia

Tel: +61 3 9919 2920; fax: +61 3 9919 2966; e-mail:

*Barbara is a higher functioning stroke survivor, having experienced a stroke in July 2004

Received 29 April 2008 Accepted 30 November 2008

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.