The health benefits of a safe Return to Work (RTW) after injury have been previously acknowledged. RTW rates amongst people with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) are comparatively lower, largely because rehabilitation and support services are not equipped to deal with their specific needs. A research team observed a group of individuals with SCI to learn more about their experience of it.

While there is plenty of information around factors that help or hinder RTW for a person with SCI, there has not been sufficient research into the broader life-planning and decision making processes under taken by individuals after they sustain a SCI.

This knowledge is required before any interventions can be developed to facilitate RTW amongst this group.

Gillean Hilton from AQA Victoria led a research project with the objective of filling this knowledge gap.

She worked with 30 participants and studied the pathways these participants took, as well as the factors that influenced their decision making.

The broader intention for her work was for it to be used by clinicians and funders to develop better practice in support of RTW outcomes.


This research project concluded with a final report, expanding on the varying experiences of the 30 participants.

The recommendationsinclude:

  • Better recognition of the important of further education after injury
  • The provision of clear information around entitlements, benefits and resources
  • Support for (or acknowledgement of) the many environmental, societal and personal factors that impact upon person with SCI
  • Recognition of the importance of personal drivers as motivators.