Date of Award

1-1-2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Rehabilitation

First Advisor

Upton, Thomas

Abstract

Working is a form of societal participation highly valued in American culture. The state-federal vocational rehabilitation system helps people with disabilities obtain and maintain employment in their communities. Although some people with traumatic brain injury return to work with minor adjustments, high proportions do not return to former employment or find work after their injuries. Analyzing vocational rehabilitation services, and other variables that impact competitive employment outcomes for this population, is important. This study examined the association of types and degree of limitations to functional capacities, and competitive employment outcomes; and selected VR services, and competitive employment, after controlling for demographic variables. The sample for this study consisted of 340 consumers of Illinois state-federal VR system whose cases were closed in fiscal years 2006 and 2007. Eligible individuals with TBI who did not receive services were also described (N=120). The present study also provided information on the types and reasons for case closure, length of rehabilitation, case expenditure, types and number of services received, and weekly earnings at case closure. Contrary to expectations, the degree of limitation across all areas of functional capacity, used by VR counselors to determine severity of disability, and priority for services, were not found to be significantly related to competitive employment among customers with TBI. Results also found that, when relevant demographic characteristics are controlled, the odds of achieving competitive employment increased significantly for VR clients with TBI in Illinois who received job placement and on-the-job supports. For clients who were of minority background, received SSI/SSDI at application, or had lower socioeconomic status (based on income, education and pre-service work status), these odds significantly decreased. Service variables were stronger predictors of competitive employment than demographic variables. Implications, future directions, and limitations of this study are also discussed.

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