When you hurt your brain, your whole life can change. Moderate and severe brain injuries can produce obvious, life-altering symptoms. Some patients may even wind up dependent on life support because of the location and severity of a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

However, a brain injury doesn’t have to affect your regulation of unconscious actions like breathing to drastically change the course of your life. Those who have less obviously debilitating symptoms can also struggle to return to the life they had before their injury.

Changes in personality, cognition and mood are all common symptoms of brain injury, including mild to moderate brain injuries. While the symptoms may not prevent you from going to work, they could drastically impact your earning potential.

Scientists and highly educated professionals may struggle with a TBI

A brain injury can make it harder for people to access or recall certain memories, which can have negative consequences on educated professionals such as health care workers, scientists, accountants and lawyers.

Difficulty managing the same tasks that were once easy for someone can reduce their earning potential or impact their job performance. Someone’s upward trajectory with a company might slow down or cease altogether. In some cases, the impact on performance for educated professionals is so severe that their employer seeks to demote or terminate them from their position because they can’t perform it properly anymore.

Managers, salespeople and customer service professionals can struggle, too

Memory and cognitive issues aren’t the only side effects of brain injuries that can affect your job performance. Changes in your mood, personality and behavior can influence how successful you are in positions that necessitate human interaction.

A salesperson who loses their persuasive edge or who develops verbal tics may no longer be able to close a sale. Customer service professionals, like wait staff in a high-end restaurant, may no longer be able to keep orders straight without writing them down. Managers might struggle to control their mood or reaction to employees, which could drastically reduce how effective they are in their role.

It’s important to understand that disability benefits aren’t just available for those who can’t work at all. They are also important for individuals who can work but can no longer perform the same highly compensated tasks they once did. Those with work-acquired brain injuries have multiple options for reducing the impact that their injury will have on their career and financial future.