Tutorial: The Speech-Language Pathologist’s Role in Return to Work for Adults With Traumatic Brain Injury

Peter Meulenbroek, Therese M. O’neil-Pirozzi, McKay Moore Sohlberg, Rik Lemoncello, Lindsey Byom, Bryan Ness, Sheila Macdonald, Brian Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: Return to work (RTW) is a major life participation metric used for persons with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have clinical expertise in the cognitive-communication aspects of TBI. This clinical focus article aims to support the clinical practice of SLPs by summarizing key interprofessional vocational rehabilitation (VR) models and illustrating the role of the SLP throughout the RTW process with a case study. Method: This clinical focus article was written by the Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences TBI Research Group along with a VR expert. Authors engaged in deliberative, agenda-based discussions beginning with a literature review based on previous systematic studies. Discussions explored relevant VR and SLP practices. Results: This clinical focus article presents key VR models in parallel with SLP assessment and treatment to illustrate best practice patterns in an RTW field with a dearth of SLP-specific literature. We summarize general VR approaches and four evidence-supported VR models for adults with TBI. We highlight how a model of interprofessional assessment can assist with planning and communication of important work-related concerns. We illustrate how the chronological model of work return can assist with developing goals and planning treatment. Conclusions: SLPs play an important role in identifying, managing, and collaborating with an RTW team following TBI. A working knowledge of VR models can assist with improving the dialogue between SLPs and VR professionals and can inform practice when working with persons with TBI who have work return as a goal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-202
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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