Importance: Return to work after stroke is an important rehabilitation outcome. Vocational rehabilitation may support people with stroke to return to work.
Objective: To report the return-to-work rate of people with stroke who completed a local community-based vocational rehabilitation program and to describe the program’s impact on their community reintegration.
Design: Retrospective database study.
Setting: Community-based voluntary welfare organization.
Participants: Fifty-eight men and women ages 21 to 55 yr, formally diagnosed with stroke, with no significant cognitive impairment, and fit to undergo rehabilitation.
Intervention: A pilot community-based interdisciplinary vocational rehabilitation program implemented between 2014 and 2017. The program included physical rehabilitation, psychosocial support, employment support, and caregiver support services.
Outcomes and Measures: Return-to-work rate and community reintegration as measured by the Community Integration Questionnaire (CIQ).
Results: Fifty participants completed the program. Their median age was 44 yr, and most were male (n = 37; 74%). Forty-four participants (88%) returned to work after completing the program. Statistically significant differences (p < .001) were found between their CIQ scores at program enrollment and at completion.
Conclusions and Relevance: The program appeared to benefit people with stroke in their return-to-work process. Future studies are recommended to determine the effectiveness of such programs and identify features contributing to their success. Potential implications for occupational therapy practice are that vocational rehabilitation interventions can be initiated earlier, comprehensive return-to-work programs can better address the unique needs of people with stroke, and interdisciplinary evaluations are needed to assess suitability for return to work.
What This Article Adds: One of occupational therapy’s unique goals is to facilitate performance and participation in valued activities such as work. Occupational therapists can play a pivotal role across the continuum of care to support their clients to explore and achieve their vocational goals after stroke.