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About Bladder Impairment
Bladder impairments tend to be caused by neurologic conditions, including spinal cord injuries, disease, cerebrovascular accidents, brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, and dementia. However, other conditions can also trigger bladder impairments, such as pregnancy, childbirth, weight, and medications. Some of the most common symptoms of a bladder impairment can be an inability to hold urine (functional incontinence), a strong need to urinate (urge incontinence), and leakage due to activity (stress incontinence). These can also lead to infections, stones, or renal damage. Interstitial cystitis is a specific bladder condition that can cause pressure and pain in the bladder. It also has symptoms similar to other bladder disorders, such as frequent urination, pain during sex, and waking at night to urinate.
Bladder Impairment and the Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment. For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, see How to Determine Whether a Person Has a Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).
Accommodating Employees with Bladder Impairment
People with bladder impairments may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with bladder impairments will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.
Questions to Consider:
- What limitations is the employee experiencing?
- How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
- What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
- What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
- Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the employee to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
- Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?
Situations and Solutions:
An employee who experienced incontinence requested accommodations because he was having accidents at work.
The employer allowed the employee to keep a change of clothes at the office and additional restroom breaks.
An employee recently had surgery, which was needed as a result of a bladder condition.
She was not able to commute to work so she asked to telework. The telework policy was extended to only senior employees. The employer agreed to modify the telework policy for the employee, who was considered a new employee, on a temporary basis, to see how the accommodation works.
An employee with a bladder condition requested leave in order to go to doctors’ appointments.
The employer offered a modified schedule instead, so that the employee could make up the time missed without needing to use accrued leave.
Because of medications being taken for a bladder condition, and employee experienced fatigue in the afternoon.
The employer modified the employees break time and provided a space for the employee to rest during the afternoon.
An employee with interstitial cystitis needed to use the restroom once every hour.
The employer modified the company break policy, just for the employee, so that frequent restroom breaks could be taken.
JAN Publications & Articles Regarding Bladder Impairment
Accommodation and Compliance Series
Consultants' Corner Articles
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