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CIGNA Group Insurance Celebrates Return to Work Success During National Rehabilitation Awareness Week

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- On a routine stop at the supermarket in November 2006, Leah Freesmeier fell to the ground, hitting the left side of her head on the cement floor and leaving her with a severe injury to her brain. The injury left her with language and hearing impairments, aphasia and right cranial nerve/facial palsy. She doesn't remember falling, or most of the three weeks she was in the hospital, but she does remember the rehabilitation she went through that enabled her to return to her job as a customer support specialist.

"I was lucky to have CIGNA during this ordeal," said Freesmeier. "Not only was the company great at assisting me with the overwhelming process of understanding the various administrative aspects I had to take care of, but my rehabilitation counselor worked very closely with me to ensure I had the best care possible to enable me to get back to work, which was my ultimate goal."

After intense physical and speech therapy, Freesmeier worked with a CIGNA vocational rehabilitation counselor and was ready to return to work six months after her injury. CIGNA's vocational rehabilitation counselors are educated and skilled in helping individuals with disabilities make career plans, learn new skills and face their fears. They understand and anticipate these fears and provide support, education and resources to overcome them.

Freesmeier's CIGNA vocational rehabilitation counselor began the process of helping her plan her return to work. This included assessing factors that could potentially impact the success of her return-to-work plan and determining how some challenges could be reduced or avoided altogether. Additionally, the counselor worked with all of Freesmeier's treating physicians to facilitate easing her back into the workplace. Based on their recommendations, the counselor worked with the local state rehabilitation agency to arrange for Freesmeier to be accompanied by an onsite coach for the first two months back on the job. The onsite coach helped Freesmeier with things such as ensuring she was taking appropriate notes and following processes.

"Having the onsite coach during my first few months back on the job was very beneficial for me," says Freesmeier. "It made my transition back into my routine a lot easier."

Freesmeier's rehabilitation experience is one of several successes CIGNA Group Insurance is highlighting next week during a series of employee and customer gatherings in the company's disability claim offices in Pittsburgh, Dallas and Glendale, Calif. Through these events, CIGNA will focus on vocational rehabilitation, celebrated each September as part of National Rehabilitation Awareness Week, with a mission to educate people about the benefits and impact of rehabilitation. CIGNA Group Insurance, and sister company Intracorp, are the national sponsors of this observance, celebrated from Sept. 16-22, in cooperation with the National Rehabilitation Awareness Foundation (NRAF) of Scranton, PA.

CIGNA will be awarding employers, including Toyota, McKesson Corporation and Henry Ford Health System, with a Return-to-Work Award for their success in implementing return-to-work programs for their employees. In addition, claimants, such as Freesmeier, will be visiting the offices to share their successful return-to-work stories with CIGNA employees.

"CIGNA works to assist our employer customers, and their disabled employees, in the shared goal of returning to productive work," said Mark Marsters, senior vice president, CIGNA Group Insurance. "Many employers are committed to ensuring return-to-work programs are in place. These efforts not only contribute to productivity, but they also enable employees to regain independent living."

"I never imagined something like this would ever happen to me," says Freesmeier. "I am fortunate to be alive and I am grateful to have been able to return to work after my rehabilitation."

For more information on National Rehabilitation Awareness Week, visit the NRAF website at

For more information about CIGNA Group Insurance's disability programs and services, visit

About CIGNA Group Insurance

"CIGNA," the "Tree of Life" logo and "CIGNA Group Insurance" are registered service marks of CIGNA Intellectual Property, Inc., licensed for use by CIGNA Corporation and its operating subsidiaries. Products and services are provided by such operating subsidiaries and not by CIGNA Corporation. Such operating subsidiaries include Life Insurance Company of North America and CIGNA Life Insurance Company of New York. CIGNA Group Insurance is one of the top five providers in disability management and insurance with solutions that focus on helping employees return to a productive work life as quickly and safely as possible.

CIGNA Group Insurance is also one of the top five providers of group term life and group universal life, and the second leading provider of group accident insurance, including voluntary accident and business travel accident insurance.

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