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Physical Therapy Key to Getting Injured Workers Back on Job

Many companies work hard to prevent on-the-job injuries for obvious reasons, not least that claims can drive increases in workers’ compensation premiums. An injury to an experienced and skilled worker also means lost productivity, the expense of training a replacement and the costs of low morale and absenteeism.

Ideally, preventing injuries is the way to control costs, but when an injury occurs, returning that worker to the job is the next best solution. Early return-to-work programs allow an employee to get back to work with light duties during recovery.

If an injury requires more than just some time off, rehabilitation can help a worker recover and return to the job ready to perform at 100%.

Some of the most common injuries among laborers are sprains and strains of the low back, neck and shoulder. In office workers it’s typically more strains of the lower back, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

These injuries result from ergonomic challenges in the workplace – repetitive tasks, stooping or crouching for long periods and working on uneven terrain.

Often, therapists see repetitive motion as a cause of injury, resulting in conditions such as tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and “tennis elbow.” Many of these conditions require hand therapy to support recovery.

Laborers can also have traumatic injuries from accidents involving equipment, and those injuries won’t heal properly without physical therapy. Without such therapy, they have the potential for complications, such as excess scarring and muscle atrophy.

Physical therapy can correct improper body mechanics and help prevent re-injuries. A good program focuses specifically on work-related injuries and preparing patients to return to their jobs.

To make the process smoother, a program should work directly with doctors and insurers, ensuring the continuity of treatment and expediting the employee’s return to work.

Work injury management offers targeted, job-specific work conditioning that enables physicians to help their patients return to work in a timely fashion. Patients do work-related tasks under the close supervision of therapy staff.

Many physical therapy clinics use innovative equipment and job-specific materials to simulate the workplace. Therapists can observe the patient performing tasks specific to their job, then identify and address the factors that may have contributed to a person’s injury. Patients practice their job and strengthen key areas, so they are ready to return to work with a lower risk of re-injury.

The key to an injured worker returning to work after an injury or operation for a repetitive stress injury is coordination between the employer, the worker, the physician, the therapist and the insurer. A coordinated, one-stop shop can save money and time.

If one of your workers suffers an injury and requires physical therapy, talk to us and we will try to help you work with your insurer to see if they can be put into a physical therapy program focused on returning them to health and getting them back on the job.

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