Advanced Work Rehabilitation Reaps Rewards

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 10, 2021 2:56:32 PM / by Erin Norton

After you wrap up your outpatient therapy, does the patient still have MD restrictions that prevent return to work? Maybe you’re at a loss for what to do next because the patient’s gained full range and normal strength.

Feeling confident in RTW decisions for your patients and helping them feel confident should be the norm. This is not difficult to achieve; it may just require a little job simulation and work conditioning, or advanced work rehabilitation.

Meet Paul - Paul was a WC patient who gained the self-assurance needed to get back to work safely. After a knee surgery, Paul had some balance issues. His therapy helped strengthen his knee and increase his weight bearing. When it came time for a RTW screen as part of his discharge, it revealed that Paul could climb a ladder while maintaining three points of contact. This might have been enough for a doctor to send him back to work, but because of Paul’s ongoing concerns, the therapist asked for more specific details on Paul’s job tasks. There was an awkward position that Paul had to maintain on several occasions throughout his work day. This position only gave him with two points of contact on the ladder while one point of contact was in an unusual position.

Job Specific Testing - This unusual position was incorporated into the job specific RTW test which gave the physician objective data indicating that Paul needed additional treatment before he could safely return to this job. Paul then completed a brief work conditioning program in which he did specific exercises to strengthen and improve balance. Two weeks later, Paul passed the repeat of the RTW screen and had confidence and felt comfortable in the posture.

Be confident - Sometimes it is all about job simulation. An off the shelf RTW test would have had Paul on the job. He knew he could climb a ladder, but his job was more than just a ladder climb. The job specific testing and job specific training gave Paul the ability and confidence to go back to work.

The physical therapist spoke with the physician and explained the RTW screen results. She shared how and why the test was made so job specific and her recommendations for the work conditioning program. This five-minute call to the physician made it easy for the physician to authorize the additional treatment and feel confident in this decision. He was happy to see the improvement from the two-week ramp-in program and the confidence in Paul. As a bonus to the physical therapy clinic, this exchange netted them additional patient referrals from this physician.

The modified RTW screen and the five-minute call to the physician were not difficult for the PT to include in her treatment, but it brought big rewards. 

Learn how to develop effective work conditioning, or Advanced Work Rehabilitation programs, that help patients return to work efficiently and safely, and get CEUs for your license renewal.

Register for the WC Mastery Series today and start reaping rewards for yourself and your patients.

Topics: Workers' Compensation, Return to Work, "FCE", WC Mastery Series

Erin Norton

Written by Erin Norton

Erin help clinics find the best solution to fit their needs from functional capacity evaluations, to job analysis, pre-employment screens or impairment ratings.