Injured workers benefit from physical therapist services from the onset of injury through their return to work. Early physical therapy intervention consists of treatment for acute neuromusculoskeletal problems and other injuries. Many patients who receive appropriate early care return to their job without additional rehabilitation services.
For those who are not able to return to work because of unresolved physical problems following acute care, the treatment focus changes to restoration of work-related function. Defined as work rehabilitation, these programs address the physical issues of flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination, and work-related function for the global outcome of return to work. Work rehabilitation is an intensive, work-related, goal-oriented conditioning program designed specifically to restore systemic neuromusculoskeletal functions (e.g., joint integrity and mobility, muscle performance (including strength, power, and endurance), motor function (motor control and motor learning), range of motion (including muscle length), and cardiovascular/pulmonary functions (e.g. aerobic capacity/endurance, circulation, and ventilation and respiration/gas exchange). The objective of the work rehabilitation program is to restore physical capacity and function to enable the patient/client to return to work.
For the limited number of patients/clients with behavioral and vocational needs, work hardening may be indicated. Work Hardening programs are interdisciplinary and address the physical, functional, behavioral and vocational needs of the injured worker, with the global outcome of return to work. Physical therapists provide the physical and functional components within both the work rehabilitation and work hardening programs. Work Hardening is a highly structured, goal-oriented, individualized intervention program designed to return the patient/client to work. Work hardening programs, which are multidisciplinary in nature, use real or simulated work activities designed to restore physical, behavioral, and vocational functions. Work hardening addresses the issues of productivity, safety, physical tolerances, and worker behaviors.
The Therapy Network has a well known work rehabilitation/work hardening program located at the Kempsville office.