Rehabilitation Services for Workplace Injuries
Industrial Rehabilitation Services
Industrial rehabilitation services are recommended when an employee has sustained an injury at work. Therapists who specialize in this area can assist employees and their employers by implementing a range of practices, exercises, and philosophies.
Four key elements of success in industrial rehabilitation include: Providing manual therapy with a focus on soft tissue massage/manual muscle release; performing functional exercise; distinguishing noncompliant versus fear-avoidance patients; and performing return-to-work screens.
Customized Treatment Plans
Industrial rehab specialists are able to provide details and recommendations to employers regarding ergonomic-based modifications that can drastically reduce overall workplace risks and injuries. They also create employee education programs that increase awareness for musculoskeletal risks within the workplace and ways to prevent them from occurring.
They perform extensive physical and evaluative testing to help injured employees understand their personal limits. This includes a Functional Capacity Evaluation that measures strength, positional tolerance and daily physical demand work levels. The data gathered is an objective way to define an injured employees physical capabilities and helps them return to their job safely.
They offer specialized treatments like modalities, manual therapy with STM/MMR and functional exercise to help reduce spasms, improve joint mobility and correct muscle imbalance. They can also treat conditions like repetitive strain injury, back and neck pain and chronic musculoskeletal disorders such as cumulative trauma disorder. They can also offer injury prevention programs that include ergonomics instruction, body mechanics training and pain management strategies.
Work Hardening or Work Conditioning
Work hardening or work conditioning is a type of physical therapy that helps injured workers return to work safely. It can include simulated workplace activities and whole-body conditioning exercises such as strength training, cardiovascular conditioning, spine and joint stabilization.
A therapist who has been trained in these programs will be familiar with the specific demands of an individual worker’s job and can provide a more realistic program than would be possible in a physical therapy clinic. These facilities may have specialized equipment such as tires, fire hoses, ladders and hand tools that are typical in industrial jobs.
These specialized programs often run five days a week with the goal of conditioning participants for two to four hours each day and hardening them for up to eight hours a day. The therapist will re-evaluate the injured worker at regular intervals for strength, repetition and exertion levels to determine their progress and provide an objective basis for safe return to work.
Functional Capacity Evaluations
A Functional Capacity Evaluation, or FCE, compares the injured worker’s physical abilities to job demands while objectively measuring effort and reliability. This four to five hour test allows physicians, case managers and employers to make an unbiased decision regarding work status and helps prevent unnecessary and costly workers’ compensation claims.
Our skilled therapists have been trained in detailed job analysis to provide physicians, insurance companies and employers with thorough reports on work-related injuries. The report documents the injury from medical, behavioral and ergonomic perspectives and helps set appropriate return-to-work restrictions and limits.
An FCE is a critical tool for ensuring that an injured employee is not returning to work until they are physically capable of performing their job without risk of further injury or worsening the current injury. These tests are scientifically developed, ensuring an objective result.
Return to Work Screens
Whether it’s to assess an employee’s fitness for work following injury or for a pre-work screening tool for new hires, physical and occupational therapists are skilled in these assessments. This assessment measures strength, endurance and job-related physical demand to accurately determine the individual’s functional capability. It can help physicians, insurance companies and attorneys make return-to-work decisions.
Once a medical professional has determined an employee is ready to return to work, the employer must conduct a drug test and/or alcohol testing. The donor is referred to either a Substance Abuse Professional or Employee Assistance Program (SAP or EAP) depending on the policy/program and can be directed to have unannounced follow-up tests to ensure continued abstinence from drugs and/or alcohol.
As US workplaces begin to reopen, it’s critical that employees receive proper and timely medical care to ensure their health and safety and avoid costly mistakes. It’s also essential to implement basic prevention measures such as implementing hygiene practices; ensuring all employees, customers and visitors can wash their hands; implementing policies for social distancing and performing routine environmental cleaning and disinfection.