Employment after Burn Injury: Barriers and Alternatives

Burn survivor returning to work after a burn injury | Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors

After a burn injury, the process of recovery includes a crucial stage: returning to work. Burn survivors need to get back to work not only for the income but for personal benefits as well. They need to reestablish social connections and start feeling like a member of society again. 

However, there are barriers that may make the process of returning to work rather difficult. A study published in the Journal of Burn Care & Research found that two thirds of the participants in the research returned to work within one year after the injury. These were the most common barriers they encountered: pain, neurologic problems, impaired mobility, and psychiatric issues. 

If returning to work is not possible due to the barriers you’d face on that position, that doesn’t mean you cannot work at all. There are job alternatives, which we’ll also cover in this article. 


The Barriers that Stand Between Burn Injury and Employment 

The most critical factors that determine your ability to return to work are the burn’s size and location, treatment variables, pain, age, and psychosocial factors. The ultimate goal of any rehabilitation program is to help burn survivors return to the lifestyle they had before the injury, which includes their previous jobs. 

  •  If you were injured on the job, the place of the injury might trigger anxiety. Another study published in the Journal of Burn Care & Research showed that a greater percentage (44%) of those injured at work were unemployed at one year when compared to 22% of the subjects that suffered burn injury outside of work. They identified pain, neurologic problems, and psychiatric problems as the most frequent barriers. 
  • You may not have the energy and resilience to perform the same tasks, especially if they are physically demanding. 

However, you should keep in mind that there are many resources available to help you return to your job. If that is not possible, you can search for another job that wouldn’t include the same barriers. 


Alternatives to Employment after Burn Injury

Remember: you are not alone. You can see your health providers to talk about your ability to go back to work and they can help you evaluate your current limitations, so you’ll progressively work on them. 

If it’s not possible for you to cover the same workload, you can talk to your employer about job accommodations. That might include a modified work schedule that will gradually increase towards full-time, special equipment to help you with the job tasks, and flexible work schedule that allows you to attend physical therapy on schedule. 


You Can Go Back to Work When You’re Ready

Going back to work after a burn injury is not the easiest thing. The timing is very important. The medical team will help you to determine the right time for going back. They will assess your physical strengthand emotional state, and they will help you get through the difficulties. 

If going back to the same job is not possible, you can consider vocational training or working from home. Freelancing, in particular, is a convenient opportunity because it allows you to work under your own schedule and work on your full recovery in the meantime. Freelancing platforms also offer various types of jobs, including graphic design, writing, programming, photography, data science, and more.  Vocational training may help you improve these skills, so you can start working on a flexible schedule. 


For additional resources and support, please contact Phoenix Society at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


About the Author

Sandra Larson was not ready to go back to her job as a lawyer after burn injury. While working on her recovery, she started a job as a writer and guest blogger and currently works for Edubirdie. Recovery is a challenging process, but it can also bring out the best in you. Sandra is part of a community support program that helps people recover their lives after injury.