An effective community-based mentoring program for return to work and school after brain and spinal cord injury

Kolakowsky-Hayner SA, Wright J, Shem K, Medel R, Duong T.  Rehabilitation Research Center, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, San Jose, CA 95128, USA.  NeuroRehabilitation. 2012;31(1):63-73. doi: 10.3233/NRE-2012-0775.

Information is presented on a community-based mentoring program, developed to work with existing community agencies and provide structure to the frequently confusing network of services for young adults, ages 16 to 26 years, with a recently acquired disability including TBI, SCI, and other neurological disorders. The over-arching goal of the Mentoring Program was to improve the ability of individuals with disabilities to access and maximally utilize the services and programs that are available in the community. The two objectives of this study were: (1) to demonstrate continuing increases in standardized measures of community integration from the time of enrollment in the program to the time of exit from the program, and (2) to improve the percentage of youth and young adults with disabilities who successfully access post-secondary education or employment opportunities. 53 participants had post-secondary education as a goal. 12 participants had an employment goal. 12 participants had both education and employment as a combined goal. It was not uncommon for participants to change goals. Of those with education goals, 23/53 achieved educational goals and 7/53 achieved employment goals. Of those with vocational goals, 5/12 achieved vocational goals and 1/12 achieved educational goals. Of those with both goals, 5/12 achieved educational goals and 1/12 achieved vocational goals. Significant community integration and independence improvements were noted for program participants (CHART Mobility and Cognitive Independence, M2PI, DRS, and SRS). Overall, findings suggest that mentoring can be beneficial toward achieving the goals of post-secondary education, employment and community independence for individuals with disabilities; specifically those with traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders.