National Center for the
Dissemination of Disability Research

Webcast 20
Employment Outcomes After
Traumatic Brain Injury:
Does Race/Ethnicity Matter?

October 21, 2009

About the Webcast

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most prevalent and debilitating conditions in the United States. Of the estimated 1.4 million individuals who sustain a TBI annually, about 1.1 million are treated and released from emergency departments, 235,000 are hospitalized, and 80,000 to 90,000 experience permanent disability from their injury. TBI typically affects an individual either early in their productive years or once they have established a productive life. Besides the economic impact of lost years of work on the individual, family, and society, research indicates that employment is one of the most important psychosocial predictors of well-being, quality of life, social integration, and recovery in survivors with TBI.

Due to the high incidence of TBI in racial and ethnically diverse communities and an increase in minority survivors with TBI, recent studies have examined the role of race/ethnicity on return-to-work post-injury. The present webcast aims to examine the effect of race/ethnicity on employment outcomes following TBI. We will review studies that: 1) Compare employment outcomes between African Americans, Hispanics and Whites at one, two, and five years post-injury; 2) Determine the influence of minority status on job stability after Traumatic Brain Injury; 3) Examine changes in employment over time within each race group; and 4) Compare the changes in employment over time between these racial groups. Finally, implications, conclusions, and recommendations for future research studies in this area will be highlighted and discussed in detail.

About the Presenters

Juan Carlos Arango-Lasprilla, PhD obtained his doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in neuropsychology from the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain in 2002 and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Laboratory at the Kessler Medical and Rehabilitation Research Center. He became an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and is currently a research assistant professor in the Department of PM&R at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Dr. Arango-Lasprilla is the recipient of numerous awards and he has been nationally and internationally recognized for his work in the area of brain injury and cultural issues. In his short career at the academy, Dr. Arango-Lasprilla has been instrumental in securing approximately $3 million dollars in grant funds, mostly focused on work with culturally diverse populations and he has published more than 80 articles and book chapters in neuropsychology, brain injury, cultural issues, and rehabilitation. More recently, Dr. Arango-Lasprilla was a guest editor for the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation special issue: "Cultural Issues Related to Traumatic Brain Injury: Recent Research and New Frontiers" and was a guest editor for a special issue: "The Role of Race/Ethnicity on Outcomes After Central Nervous System Injury" of the journal NeuroRehabilitation.

Dr. Arango-Lasprilla is well-known in his areas of expertise, both in the US and abroad. He is the cultural competency coordinator for the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research's (NIDRR) Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems and co-director for the NIDRR-funded Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training Program. Over the past six years, Dr. Arango-Lasprilla has conducted numerous research studies in Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, and the US focused on understanding and addressing the psychological, emotional, and family needs of individuals with brain injury. He received the American Psychological Association Presidential Latino Leadership Early Career Award in 2005 and this year, he was presented with the American Psychological Association, Mitch Rosenthal Division 22 Rehabilitation Psychology Early Career Award and the American Psychological Association Division 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues) Emerging Professional Award.

Kelli Williams Gary, PhD, MPH, OTR/L is a former pre-doctoral research fellow on a NIDRR funded Advance Rehabilitation Research Training (ARRT) grant for persons with TBI at Virginia Commonwealth University in the Dept. of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), Neuropsychology division. She completed her PhD in Health Related Sciences (Occupational Therapy specialty) at VCU and her dissertation examined employment outcomes among African Americans and Whites at 1, 2, 5, and 10 years post-TBI. Her primary research interests include developing culturally based TBI interventions to improve productive outcomes for survivors with TBI in community settings. She is currently a post-doctoral research fellow on a NIDRR funded capacity-building grant for minorities with disabilities at VCU.

Dr. Gary has published several articles in peer reviewed medical journals on post-injury outcomes following TBI for minorities and their caregivers and presented on these topics nationally and internationally. In addition to clinical research, Dr. Gary is a licensed occupational therapist and has over 14 years of clinical experience with neurological rehabilitation. She is intensely devoted to improving the treatment and post-injury care rendered to survivors with TBI through her community services. She currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Virginia Brain Injury Council and co-facilitates a Brain Injury Support Group given monthly by the Brain Injury Association of Virginia. The impetus behind her passion comes from her experiences when she sustained a severe TBI in a motor vehicle accident, which resulted in cognitive deficits, temporary paralysis of her right side, and speech impediments. She has overcome many obstacles to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy, two Masters from an Ivy League institution, and a PhD, all after her injury.

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This webcast is supported through the National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research (NCDDR), which is funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) in the U.S. Department of Education, and is supported in part by ILRU. The opinions and views expressed are those of the presenters and no endorsement by the funding agency should be inferred.

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