Work Conditioning

Have you ever sustained an injury at work? Have you ever had to go on light duty or take some time off of work because of an injury? With more and more adults working outside the home and for longer hours, the prevalence of work related injuries is on the rise. It is estimated that over 70,000 work related injuries occur in Minnesota each year with over 20,000 of those cases involving a worker who missed work for a day or more. 
At Physical Therapy Consultants we work diligently to make sure our worker’s compensation cases get back to work as soon as possible. One of the ways we ensure that a worker returns to work in a timely manner is through a program called Work Conditioning. 
So what is Work Conditioning?
    -Work Conditioning is a program geared towards getting the injured worker back to their prior level of function quickly and safely. 
How is Physical Therapy different from Work Conditioning? 
Physical Therapy addresses the specific body part that was injured. The type of injury may allow the worker to continue to work full time with/without restrictions or part time with/without restrictions and in some instances, a worker may not be able to work for a period of time. A worker who continues to work full duty is not losing strength and conditioning during their time in Physical Therapy.
On the other hand, for a worker that is not back to work full time or is working with restrictions may not be performing all their normal job duties while injured. These individuals can lose the full body conditioning they need to perform the job safely. 
Here’s an example: Say a worker injures their shoulder and now has a 10lb lifting restriction for 3 weeks. During the 3 weeks of the restriction, they are not able to meet their job requirements of lifting 75lbs. Although they are participating in Physical Therapy to address their shoulder limitations, the rest of the body becomes affected by their inability to perform their normal job tasks. Therefore, the individual is losing strength, flexibility and endurance in their core, legs, and back.  Work Conditioning addresses these additional limitations placed on the body that occur secondary to the specific injury. Once Physical Therapy has addressed the specific injury and has regained structural integrity, work conditioning can restore the whole body to its previous level of strength, conditioning and endurance.
Who is work conditioning appropriate for? Any worker is appropriate that is not performing all of their job duties.  
Why is work conditioning necessary for me to do?  Returning straight back to prior level of activity after a time away is associated with higher levels of re-injury of the same body part.  There is also increased risk that another area of the body will become injured due to deconditioning. 
What activities are done in work conditioning? All our work conditioning sessions have a similar structure that is tailored for each individual. We include cardiovascular exercise to help build endurance and prepare the body for the work performed in the session. We include a weight training routine that is a full body, general strength routine. With the patient, we set up tasks that simulate the physical demands of their job to recondition the body to the specific tasks they need to return to. We start with the highest level of activity tolerated and gradually build from there until the patient has reached their prior level of function and is ready to return to their job safely.   
How do I get more information about Work Conditioning? Please call us! We would be happy to answer all your questions. If you are an injured worker- your doctor, adjuster and QRC will also, be able to answer your questions.
Sarah Mattfield, ATC 

October 31st, 2016

Posted In: General

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