In the PT world, there are many areas of specialization. While lots of therapists tend to gravitate toward Sports Medicine or Pediatrics, fewer therapists choose to specialize in Occupational Health PT (actually a sub-specialty of Orthopedics). But those who do specialize in treating industrial athletes can find that it’s especially rewarding.
There are many reasons to consider this underserved specialization:
- Provide a higher quality of care for a very deserving patient population.
- Developing work simulation activities that facilitate return to work allows you to be creative.
- Since fewer therapists specialize in treating injured workers, there’s an
opportunity to stand out as an expert – and to command a higher salary for doing so.
- Create better return to work outcomes for the patient.
- Lower cancellation rates
- Better reimbursement rates (depending on your state's work comp payment structure).
We asked a group of Physical Therapists what they love about treating injured workers and here is what they said.
- “I love the creativity that we, as clinicians, have to tailor our interventions to a
specific job.” “I am both goal oriented and creative. Treating the Industrial
Athlete ticks both boxes. I enjoy setting goals specific to my client’s work and developing a program to accomplish them.” Sometimes it is all about job simulation. Job specific testing and job specific training are necessary to give
Industrial Athletes strength, functionality and confidence to go back to work. You can’t get that from off the shelf return-to-work tests or pre-packaged work conditioning. This is where you can let your creativity show and tailor a program for your patient."
- “It feels great to be an expert, to be good at something that other clinicians are afraid of.” Industrial rehab and the work comp arena are a niche areas. Many clinicians find it tiresome to deal with the WC system or are aggravated seeing patients go back to work too early or staying out of work too long. Treating work comp patients can be frustrating or rewarding, with great or ho-hum outcomes, it all depends on how you approach the patient and the treatment. A little education and guidance can make the entire process easier and more rewarding for both the therapist and the patient. Many clinicians shy away from industrial rehab, due to fears that are often unfounded. The reality is that it is not hard to navigate the work comp system and become an expert, especially if you have the right tools and guidance."
- “I enjoy being an advocate for the injured workers. Sometimes the proverbial deck was stacked against them, and they didn’t get a lot of support from the employer or medical practitioners. Often it is physical therapy that will be the deciding factor for getting back to work and helping industrial athletes get their full paycheck.” Most of the industrial athletes have a passion to return to work and demonstrate a strong work ethic with the interventions I provide.” Many clinicians assume that injured workers don’t want to get back to work or work comp patients don’t give full effort. Of course, you may encounter patients who aren’t giving full effort. But for the majority of Industrial Athletes, they want to get back to work, back to a full paycheck, back to being productive and supporting their families. Many are as motivated, if not more so, than sports athletes."
- "I don’t have to worry if my patient will show. The cancellation rate with Industrial Athletes is much lower than with other patients.”
- “Money – for two reasons. 1) Workers’ compensation pays more than commercial insurance AND 2) By filling a niche, I couldcan demand a higher salary.” In many states, workers’ compensation is one of the best payors of physical therapy services. By focusing on treating Industrial Athletes a clinic can easily increase revenue. In today’s competitive market, every dollar counts. Training or hiring a therapist who knows the work comp system and enjoys treating injured workers is a great investment for a clinic.
Would you like to knowexperience the joy gratification of treating Industrial Athletes? Want to broaden your scope in the industrial rehab arena?
You may want to consider training in a few of these areas:
- Treating industrial athletes in the outpatient setting
- Performing return-to-work screens
- Performing FCEsFunctional Capacity Evaluations
- Conducting Iimpairment Ratings
- Marketing services for industrial athletes
Providing the right services for the work comp market is important to grow your
referrals. But doing providing the services wellwith expertise, using evidence-based
methods and anticipating the needs of the major playersvarious referral sources in the work comp system is key to establishing yourself as the expert.
Offering these services alone is not a golden ticket to success. You and your staff must understand and be a champion for your Industrial Athletes.
Ready to show some love for your Industrial Athletes? Contact ErgoScience to learn