The Effect of Physical Therapy Programs on Employee Recovery

[fa icon="calendar'] Jul 23, 2015 9:00:00 AM / by Deborah Lechner

Return to work programs, designed to facilitate speedy returns to productivity for employees after workplace injuries, are quickly becoming the standard in American companies. Physical therapy programs are often an integral part of an employee's return to work plan, services that may be offered on-site as workplace therapy and rehabilitation programs – a practice that is becoming widespread as more companies implement integrated workplace injury management strategies. In light of this trend, employers considering these programs for their own workers need to know just how much impact physical therapy programs can have on employee recovery.

The answer is that physical therapy programs can make a big difference in the amount of time it takes for employees to recover and return to the workplace. These programs benefit injured employees by restoring productivity, income, health, and well-being, and they benefit companies by lowering injury-related costs.

About Physical Therapy In the Workplace

Worksite physical therapy focuses on treating the condition and reconditioning employees with an emphasis on return to work. Worksite therapy enables employees to remain at work if possible, or, if not possible, helps employees regain their ability to perform job-related tasks safely and efficiently so that they can return to regular work as soon as possible. Worksite therapy also focuses on restoring previous levels of endurance, coordination, and flexibility to aid in preventing re-injury. These programs have a positive impact on the rate at which employees remain at work or return to work after injury, returning them to productivity sooner than they would without therapy.

Another significant benefit of worksite therapy is its convenience and efficiency of treatment. With less travel and therefore less hassle, patients are much more compliant with therapy attendance. With the worksite nearby, a workstation visit is much easier to coordinate than a treatment from a community based clinic is. Watching the employee perform the job provides a wealth of information that can help facilitate the employee's rehabilitation. The clinician can make recommendations for work practices that minimize stress on the employee's body. Observing the worksite also allows clinicians to more accurately simulate the work during work conditioning exercises.

From the employer's perspective, worksite treatment requires less downtime for employees who continue to work and attend therapy, which improves organizational productivity. Worksite clinics tend to see injured employees sooner after injury than offsite community-based clinics do, which enhances the speed of recovery. Fewer treatments translates to less expensive rehabilitation.

According to research by the Canadian Occupational Therapy Association, an individual's health and well-being is greatly influenced by their ability to engage in their chosen occupation, and withdrawal from that occupation can lead to increased dependency, decreased confidence, and depression. Conversely, restoring the individual's ability to function independently increases productivity and life satisfaction. As for employer benefits, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries points out that less time off work for injured employees translates into lower workers' compensation expenses and premiums for employers.

The bottom line on the effects of physical therapy programs on the employee recovery after workplace injuries? They work to mitigate the costs of injury – both human and financial – which is why they are being put to use by an ever-growing number of employers today.

legal considerations in Physical Abilities Testing

Topics: Workers' Compensation

Deborah Lechner

Written by Deborah Lechner

Deborah Lechner, ErgoScience President, combines an extensive research background with 25-plus years of clinical experience. Under her leadership, ErgoScience continues to use the science of work to improve workplace safety, productivity and profitability.