Returning to Work

It’s common for stroke survivors to want to get back to work as soon as possible. There’s the financial motivation  — you may just need the income — but there’s also an emotional pull. A stroke can rob you of some of your sense of self-worth. If your physical or mental abilities have been limited by the stroke, you may feel you are not the whole person you once were. But if your work provides you with a lot of satisfaction, and if your job is important because you manage other people or because you are a key contributor on a team that has a critical mission, getting back to work can restore that self-worth and increase your self-esteem.

If you return to work with a disability that you didn’t have before, several different things may happen.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, your employer may be required to provide an accommodation to help compensate for the disability.  That can be something as simple as a specialized chair or a change in your duties so that you no longer have to climb ladders or stairs.  One expert in the field estimated that more than half of all accommodations cost less than $100 and many are paid for out of public funds.

If your disability prevents you from operating efficiently in your former position, you may have to transfer to a new one. Having a positive attitude about this is crucial.  Rather than thinking of it as a demotion (which it may or may not be), recognize that your employer thinks enough of you to find you a worthwhile place in the company.  Whatever the new position is, if you make up your mind you’re going to be every bit as good at that as you were in your former role, you probably will have a long and fulfilling career with that organization.