Successful in nursing after a traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

Nurses Disabilities


  • by jds87
    Specializes in None, going for L&D.

I haven't found any posts about nurses who have suffered a TBI and continued on successful with nursing. There aren't any, in fact. The only one's I have found pertaining to TBI, are about patients. Hopefully some of you may be able to help me?

I was in a car accident 3/29/2012, was injured with a fractured pelvis, broken #11 rib, fractured sacrum, facial and left side scarring, plus a TBI. I had a subdural hemorrhage that led to a hematoma. I'm recovering well and aside from word finding problems and slight memory retention issues, you really can't tell I have a minor disability. I decided earlier this year, before my accident, to go into nursing. I've had to put off registering for classes, but when I am fully recovered and healed, I want to continue on that goal.

Are there any other nurses that have had a TBI? Is there any perceived difficulty with the education process and actual work because of this? What should I be wary of? Anything specific I should focus on?

Also, any other information would be awesome. Thank you so much.

Specializes in ER, TRAUMA, MED-SURG.

Wow!! The only person I can remember is a girl that was in our class that suffered a GSW to the head. She graduated the year after our class did. Sounds like a horrible injury you suffered - good luck to you in school - coming back as fast as you have after your injury is impressive. Sounds like you have the determination to succeed! Keep us posted, and you will be in my prayers.

Anne, RNC


12 Posts

Specializes in None, going for L&D.

I hope that she's doing well, that must have been difficult for her. Thank you, I've been working hard and my son is really a motivating factor. Hopefully things will go well from here on out. :)


1 Article; 2,188 Posts

Specializes in Home Care.

My son suffered a TBI several years ago, he was 24 at the time. He was on full life support for a week, then recovered over the next 3 weeks.

He's fortunate to have little, if no residual effects from the TBI.

So I say go for it! You're not going to know unless you try!


40 Posts

Specializes in Psychiatric.

20 years ago, I had a TBI and other injuries associated with falling from a vehicle on the Highway, doing 60mph. Long story short: Coming home late at night, from visiting friends, I hadn't closed the passenger door properly and was not wearing a seat belt; fell asleep against the door and when the driver hit a pot hole, the door flew open and I fell out. Yes, I certainly learned my lesson about seat belts.

I sought to enter nursing school 10 years ago, because my prior work was too physical and I had been on SSD. No one can live on SSD with any degree of comfort or dignity, especially raising two children. The counselor at the Community College I went to told me that d/t TBI, I should forget nursing. I slunk away with my tail tucked between my legs and went to counseling for depression and was encouraged to go back and enroll. I am proud to say, I finished nursing school with a 3.9 GPA! I was employed last year by a Behavior Health hospital.

Anyway, now at 50 yrs old and many therapies later, the only signs of disability i display is I move slower d/t having a knee replaced, chronic back pain, and some thought blocking, which to me, is the most troubling side effect because I have to allow what is being said to process before I can respond and I have some difficulty with spelling (thank goodness for spell-check). So, despite having a very high intelligence level, and I demonstrate critical thinking skills, I notice that when I talk to coworkers or colleagues they slow down the conversation to match me, which totally unnerves me.

I'm also starting to experience some discrimination at work. I never acknowledged my disability to HR when I applied because I was advised I'd never get hired. I actually had a manager approach me recently with veiled threats about documentation fraud, stopping short of telling me I was lying when I verified a pt's medications with a pharmacy as being the correct dose being issued, because the pharmacist questioned the amount of a medication a pt reported as being Rx'd AND reordered by the physician assigned to the pt. Essentially, I've been told, in no definitive way, "Find another job, no one has confidence in you."

It's hard to be disabled in the nursing profession. I'm finding that out, first hand, in a job that is not that physically demanding, that employers and colleagues do not like or trust a nurse who recovered from TBI.


12 Posts

Specializes in None, going for L&D.

Thank you, I haven't heard anything else about nursing and TBI recovery so that is very helpful. The only other thing I heard was a nurse at the local hospital had a TBI and is recovering and she is doing very well.

That's a shame though, to encounter such discrimination, especially in nursing. Wow, I'm still motivated but your reply gives me a lot to think about and plan for.


5 Posts

Specializes in pediatrics.

In April 2011, I suffered 4 seizures in one night due to a reaction to medication. Thank goodness I was already in the hospital!!. I don't remember anything about the week that I was there following the seizures, other then what my family has told me. The neurologist told me that I would NEVER go back to nursing. I did everything that the doctor asked of me (multiple tests, see a psychiatrist, meds, etc). I proved her wrong. I am back to nursing. I have to admit that my brain was screwed up for awhile, but I did a lot of brain exercises and such. She calls me her miracle patient. Apparently I was in really bad shape following the seizures and was either not believed to make it thru the night or if I did, I would not be "right". I feel better then I ever have. I am happy to report that since that horrible night, I have not had another seizure.

It is possible to be a nurse following a TBI!! You just have to know your limitations. I continue to follow doctor's orders. I'm careful about any OTC medicines that I take without first checking with the neurologist, take my meds, try to keep my stress level down and get enough sleep.

Hope this helps. Good luck!!

susie smith

1 Post

do these comments get to be seen?


12 Posts

Specializes in None, going for L&D.

I would think they do, as the poster I see them. So, I believe that anyone can, even non-site members.

I do appreciate the responses, it gives me a lot to think about. I'm doing much better than when I first posted, so I'm thinking that achieving this goal won't be as hard as I initially believed. I'm excited to start college for my degree now :)


1 Post

I am in the same position as you. I am 7 months into my recovery from a TBI I had in April this year. I had a basal skull and temporal lobe fracture with paralysis on the right side of my face (which is all better now), loss of smell/taste (still gone), and some hearing loss in my right ear. This injury sparked my interest in the healthcare field as a career and I have actually considered getting into the HIM field because my endurance is not as strong as it was before. However, I have always liked fast-paced action so perhaps working in an office might not be good for me.

I was on disability for five months and am now back to work 12 hrs a week at a cafe. Taking all that time off to heal really helped me a lot! My endurance certainly is not as strong as it was before, however my part-time work is making me stronger. I am not taking any medications except for Tylenol once a blue moon, hardly any alcohol, and have not had any seizures. And I will not. :)

One question has been on my mind for a while. Will my loss of smell/taste stop me from becoming registered or even getting a job in a hospital? Working in healthcare is definitely the pathway for me. Neurology and traumatology has definitely sparked my interest; I just have to get my foot in the door and grow from there. And since I am putting all of this out there, I do have a few blemishes on my record. This could be a little hike uphill, however my injury has dramatically changed my lifestyle for the better, and I am ready to go back to school.

Anyways, respect to the nurses out there that have had a TBI. It certainly wasn't easy, but we are strong!

I’m reading this several years after it was written and I have a question. I’ve been a labor nurse for many years. I was in an accident in June of 2017 and had a TBI. The neuropsychologist won’t let me go back to work (i didn’t do very good on the IQ test... twice). But I feel like I’m doing good. I honestly don’t know what to do at this point. I loved my job but the hospital I worked at won’t hire me back because of the test results, which I understand. Should I try another hospital or just forget about going back to nursing all together.... any advice would be greatly appreciated. I feel like I don’t know what to do at this point. Thank y’all so much:)


5 Posts

Specializes in pediatrics.

Almost 8 years ago I had a TBI. I worked at a children’s hospital at the time. I was told that I’d never go back to nursing. I failed my first neuropsy test , but passed the second. I was cleared to go to back to nursing, but my job was already filled. I couldn’t get a job at the same hospital. I cut my losses and did travel nursing for a year. Then I did adults for 2 1/2 years before I returned to neonatal nursing. During my time off I did brain games on the computer. I was scared when I started working again. I wasn’t sure of how much knowledge I had loss if any. It turned out ok. To this day, I’m still working in a nursing role.

if this is truly what you want to do with your life, go for it. Maybe you can try the testing again. Don’t give up. There’s also many avenues you can explore regarding nursing. Good luck!!

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