Access to employment opportunities for people with spinal cord injuries.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Traumatic spinal cord injuries (SCI) instantaneously transform people's lives from a state of active physical well-being to one of total or partial paralysis. One of the most profound changes experienced by people who sustain SCI is a loss of choice and narrowing of options in all aspects of life, including employment opportunities. Improved survival rates of people sustaining SCI and fewer medical complications has meant that the issue of return to work has become an important consideration in the rehabilitation process. The provision of appropriate vocational rehabilitation and support services can enhance people's ability to gain and maintain employment after their SCI. This study looks at employment issues for people with SCI within the New Zealand context, which is different to other countries primarily because of the accident compensation system. This research is based on in-depth Ltiterviews with seventy spinal cord injured people from all over New Zealand that have been at the Burwood Spinal Injuries Unit for reassessment or further medical treatment. This study establishes the rate and nature of employment of the participants, and identifies factors, which affect employment outcomes for this group of people, including the timeliness of vocational rehabilitation. It also explores some of the life changes of SCI and the impact of the groups' employment outcomes on their perceived health status, social outcomes and life satisfaction.