What can vocational rehabilitation services do for people with multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Vocational Rehabilitation Services can assist patients with:

  • Recognizing their skills and abilities
  • Exploring new careers
  • Locating jobs
  • Preparing for interviews
  • Developing safe work sites
  • Coping with work-related issues

Initial vocational consultation: Assessing job needs

Assessing the needs of the patient is the first step in vocational rehabilitation. Information from the assessment helps the patient and counselor make the best use of vocational services.

During the initial interview, a counselor reviews the patient’s educational, work and medical histories and assesses any factors that may affect the patient’s ability to work. After the consultation, the patient may be referred to other hospital services or community resources.

Vocational evaluation: Recognizing skills, interests and abilities

Vocational evaluation tests the person’s transferrable skills to assess his or her:

  • Aptitudes
  • Vocational interests
  • Strengths and limitations

Vocational evaluation also measures the patient’s general abilities and specific needs and interests. OASYS, a computer database of thousands of jobs, is sometimes used to match jobs with the patient’s past work history and current physical and mental capabilities.

Career exploration: Matching skills and interests with jobs

Career exploration introduces patients to the many resources available for making career choices. The patient can:

  • Review labor market data
  • Clarify his or her aptitudes and abilities (based on vocational evaluation)
  • Research career interests
  • Identify occupational preferences
  • Set vocational goals

A vocational rehabilitation counselor provides support and guidance throughout the decision-making process.

Counseling helps the patient cope with issues related to returning to work, including:

  • Adjustment to disability
  • Fear of re-injury
  • Fear of change
  • Clarification of functional limitations
  • Factors affecting motivation and benefits of working
  • Employer and worker expectations
  • Résumés and cover letter writing
  • Job interviewing
  • Job accommodations (Americans with Disabilities Act and ADA Amendments Act))

Job site analysis: Ensuring a safe work environment

A patient can be observed at work while performing specific job duties to determine if he or she can safely perform a job. The counselor may then recommend modifying job duties or the work site to improve safety.

Job coaching: Working together to achieve goals

For those with severe disabilities, job coaching is often performed with support from outside community agencies. Some workers require assistance on the job to learn procedures, organize and prioritize tasks and meet productivity standards. A job coach works closely with the worker to set up job duties in an effective way, based on the worker’s overall vocational strengths and limitations.

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