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Brain Injury

Accommodation and Compliance: Brain Injury

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About Brain Injury

The brain can incur several different types of injuries depending on the type, amount, and position of force impacting the head. The impact may affect one functional area of the brain, several areas, or all areas of the brain. These factors determine what types of accommodations are effective. JAN's Accommodation Solutions: Executive Functioning Deficits is a publication detailing accommodations for individuals with limitations related to executive functioning. These ideas may be helpful in determining accommodations. 

Brain Injury and the Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA does not contain a definitive list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA defines a person with a disability as someone who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more "major life activities," (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such 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 Brain Injury

People with brain injuries 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 brain injuries 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:

  1. What limitations is the employee experiencing?
  2. How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
  3. What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
  4. What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
  5. 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?
  6. Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?

Key Accommodations:

Working Effectively with Supervisors:

  • Provide positive praise and reinforcement
  • Provide written instructions
  • Write clear expectations of responsibilities and the consequences of not meeting them
  • Allow for open communication with managers and supervisors
  • Establish written long term and short term goals
  • Develop strategies to deal with problems before they arise
  • Provide written work agreements
  • Develop a procedure to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodation

Issues of Change:

  • Recognize that a change in the office environment or of supervisors may be difficult for a person with a brain injury
  • Maintain open channels of communication between the employee and the new and old supervisor in order to ensure an effective transition
  • Provide weekly or monthly meetings with the employee to discuss workplace issues and production levels

Accommodation Ideas:

Situations and Solutions:

The following situations and solutions are real-life examples of accommodations that were made by JAN customers. Because accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis, these examples may not be effective for every workplace but give you an idea about the types of accommodations that are possible.

Events Regarding Brain Injury

Other Information Regarding Brain Injury


American Brain Tumor Association
American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM)
American Occupational Therapy Association
American Physical Therapy Association
American Stroke Association
Brain Injury Association of America
Center for Parent Information and Resources
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury
Job Accommodation Network
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Rehabilitation Information Center
National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury
Office of Disability Employment Policy
Ohio Valley Center for Brain Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation
Pediatric Brain Foundation
Remedy's Health Communites
Society for Neuroscience
Veterans Crisis Line