Content » Vol 47, Issue 7

Original report

Early access to vocational rehabilitation for spinal cord injury inpatients

James W. Middleton, Deborah Johnston, Gregory Murphy, Kumaran Ramakrishnan, Nerida Savage, Rachel Harper, Jacquelyn Compton , Ian D. Cameron
John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research, Sydney Medical School Northern, 2065 Sydney, Australia, Australia. E-mail:,
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-1980


Objectives: To describe a novel early vocational rehabilitation programme (In-Voc) for inpatients with spinal cord injury and to report early vocational outcomes.
Design: Observational longitudinal cohort study.
Subjects: One hundred adults with spinal cord injury admitted to spinal units in Sydney, Australia within a 24-month period.
Methods: In-Voc was offered to all inpatients within the first 6 months of acquired spinal cord injury and was provided by trained vocational consultants. Baseline demographics, opinions about work readiness, details of the vocational services provided and preliminary employment outcomes were documented.
Results: The In-Voc programme was relatively short in duration (median 11 weeks, range 3–39 weeks) with a median total of 9.1 h (range 1–75.2 h) of service delivered per participant. At case closure (median 3 weeks post-discharge), 29/84 (34.5%) of participants were in paid employment (7% full-time, 8% part-time, 7% on sick leave, and 12% working with hours unknown), 36% were unemployed (6% seeking work, 16% not seeking work, 14% job seeking status unknown), 13% were students or in-training, and 17% were in vocational rehabilitation.
Conclusion: Our research suggests that implementing an early vocational rehabilitation programme with individuals in the hospital setting is feasible and has good potential for enhancing post-injury labour-force participation.

Lay Abstract


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