The proposed organization provides the TBI participant with the opportunity to engage in a variety of occupational roles to test their post-accident capabilities. This is important as:
- The exercise of cognitive skills is important to the recovery, or relearning, of those skills.
- The injury may impair existing skills but may also enhance other capabilities of the individual in unexpected ways.
- Neurocognitive testing does not provide an exact match with occupational roles.
The proposed organization seeks to reintegrate TBI victims into society in a range of meaningful and rewarding roles. Many of the proposed roles involve the client group in IT related activity. This recognizes the fact that:
- IT is a sector of increasing occupational demand and will therefore exhibit a growing number of occupational niches.
- The TBI victim may present in a way similar to moderate Asperger’s with a strong preference for highly routinized behaviours. Such roles exist in the IT sector.
- The intended software tools permit exposure to varying degrees of complexity. The individual may interact in a very basic way and, as their skills improve, they may be offered graduated exposure to higher degrees of complexity.
- An IT based environment permits working from home. This is critical as TBI victims often experience restricted mobility.
- The organization will facilitate peer group interaction through Internet based networking. This permits peer-to-peer support and solution sharing. It also facilitates making connection with TBI victims in remote settings who may otherwise be extremely isolated.
- Peer-to-peer networking results in the creation of a “digital support group.” It is believed that such support would greatly reduce the the rate of self harm within the client population.
- The IT focus presents an opportunity for various forms of data logging so as to provide accurate measures of cognitive task improvement. Once appropriate research protocols have been established, this data stream may be made available to outside researchers. Advancing such research is likely to result in a significant improvement in rehabilitation protocols.
- The proposed suite of applications are primarily open source and costs are therefore minimized. One of the intended applications currently powers approximately 25% of the web. It comes in a variety of forms and is utilized by individual micro-sites through to Fortune 500 companies. It is anticipated that open source software will demonstrate continued growth in market share. This will result in the creation of new economic opportunities and employment. The TBI participant will therefore aquire skills targeted to areas of increased occupational demand.
- IT embraces a broad spectrum of occupational activity, from tasks requiring extreme technical sophistication, to tasks that constitute “grunt work.” This extreme range is critical to this proposal as it permits skill acquisition at a very basic level while it affords the potential of continued growth to meet the improved capabilities of the recovering TBI victim.
- It is entirely possible that all of the IT activity within the proposed organization may be conducted by TBI victims themselves. Participants in advanced recovery would then be in a position to provide IT services to those TBI victims unable to identify an occupational role within the IT area. For example: it is anticipated that individuals in advanced recovery would be able to moderate and operate the peer-to-peer network described earlier. It is also believed that they would be able to operate on-line markets that enable other victims to retail craft goods, or digital cultural products, to the general public.
- IT permits the global marketing of skills. Two examples are: 1) the provision of translation services, and 2) the provision of graphic design services. Such services may also be marketed to the global non-profit sector where an extended delivery time is not as critical as an attractive price (ceteris paribus).
- In addition to data logging, an IT environment presents considerable potential for innovation in the area of assistive technology. The author has become reliant on some very basic forms of IT assistance and has identified a variety of potential applications for NFC and other mobile technologies.
- TBI injury exhibits a bi-modal distribution with the two key cohorts being the young (athletic injury, injury due to a lack of mature judgment) and the elderly (age related vulnerability). To relegate a young person with TBI to a lifetime of janitorial tasks compounds the original injury. Today’s young have grown and matured in a digital environment, are likely to be very comfortable in that environment and are therefore deemed highly likely to respond in a positive manner to the facilities offered by the proposed organization.
- The proposed IT environment enables task collaboration by two or more persons. It is possible two victims have complementary injuries such that digital teaming permits them to combine to successfully engage in the performance of a single task.
- TBI victims frequently suffer from fatigue which makes it difficult, or impossible, for them to complete a normal work day without interruption. The proposed IT environment offers the potential for task sharing in which a group of TBI victims partner so as to share a single occupational workload between themselves.
- There is a significant body of learning material available at no cost on the Internet. This greatly facilitates creation of a program of structured learning. When coupled with peer group mentoring this will facilitate acquisition of new KSAs.
- The organization provides a means to surface and make known the obstacles facing TBI victims. It is believed this would reduce the social stigma associated with this form of injury and with other forms of mental health injury, or illness. Such stigma has two negative effects: 1) it contributes to social isolation. This has negative effects which compound the original injury; 2) stigma may delay seeking treatment as the affected individual resists acknowledging his / her own injury due to concern over a negative social reaction.
- The mature organization would also make publicly available any research findings, or other resource material, that would assist rehabilitation teams, employers, or remote TBI victims.