Employment outcomes for individuals with spinal cord injuries: 2011 - 2013

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Revell, G., Wehman, P., Seward, H., Inge, K. & Cimera, R. (2015). Employment outcomes for individuals with spinal cord injuries: 2011 - 2013. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 42(1), 85–96.

The Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation


BACKGROUND: Employment for individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) varies by demographic, educational, and preinjury occupational characteristics. Individuals with SCI also face a number of physical and structural barriers to returning to work postinjury. Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services through the use of the federal and state vocational rehabilitation programs is one option for obtaining the needed supports that lead to successful competitive employment outcomes.

OBJECTIVE: This information is for those individuals with SCI whose cases were closed by VR in one of the four case closure codes: Status 08, Status 28, Status 30, or Status 26. The intent of this research is to profile participation, services received, and outcomes achieved by individuals with SCI who were participants in State Vocational Rehabilitation programs.

METHODS:Using the Federal Rehabilitation Services Administration’s (RSA) 911-database, individuals with a primary physical disability of spinal cord injury who had their cases closed in Federal FiscalYears 2011–2013 (n = 9,205) were selected to understand general demographic, education, SSI/SDI, and reasons for case closure information. More detailed analyses of data of services received, employment outcomes, and costs for individuals forwhoman Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) also were completed.

RESULTS: Nationally, state VR agencies reported closing 3,217 cases in FY 2011, 3,098 cases in FY 2012, and 2,890 cases in FY 2013 in the four case closure codes: Status 08, Status 28, Status 30, and Status 26. Status 26 closure represents those cases closed successfully. In this study, 991 individuals with SCI were closed in Status 26 during FY 2011, 972 in FY 2012, and 936 in FY 2013. The majority of cases closed successfully were for individuals who were white/Caucasian, and rates were slightly higher for individuals with an associate’s degree or more.

CONCLUSIONS:The findings in this study are consistent with previous findings on the demographic characteristics of individuals with SCI and return to work. More research is needed on the relationship between certain demographic characteristics and successful employment postinjury, the impact of rehabilitation technology services on successful case closures, the types of jobs that individuals with SCI obtain, and what makes state VR programs in some areas more successful than others.