One of the most challenging impacts of an injury is uncertainty surrounding your ability to return to work. At Atlantic Orthopaedic Specialists, we hear these concerns regularly, and we empathize with the instability that injuries can cause. That’s why we’ve spent years enhancing our Return to Work program, maximizing the most effective results for our patients, with the fewest number of visits.
Return to work programs were developed to help patients who have been injured to do exactly what the name implies: return to pre-injury employment. After being prescribed the Return-to-Work program by a physician, the process of getting a patient back to work begins immediately, with our first step of evaluating a patient within 24-48 hours in order to begin building a care plan. To build the care plan, we meet and gather information on their needs, establish expectations, and gain an understanding of the physical requirements of their job.
At the conclusion of the Return-to-Work program, the patient will have one of three potential outcomes. They may be:
- Discharged and return to work
- Prescribed to participate in a Work Conditioning Program lasting up to 4 weeks of job simulation and training,
- Prescribed to undergo further functional testing
There are several tests which are used to objectively evaluate a patient’s level of physical functioning. These include: Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE). the Baseline Test (FBT) for work conditioning, Impairment Rating (IR), post-offer employment test, and on-site job analysis.
All of our worker’s compensations patients begin in the Return to Work Program, but only a few transition and require additional treatment through our Work Conditioning Program. This structured program is tailored to a client’s specific job demands to increase strength, restore function, rebuild confidence, reduce risk for re-injury, and promote a safe return to work.
Work Conditioning Programs help transition a patient with a strenuous, non-sedentary job safely back to work following an injury. For Work Conditioning patients, their job description might include strenuous labor such as lifting, bending, pushing-pulling, carrying, squatting, kneeling, climbing or walking and standing for extended periods. This program also begins with the development of a care plan, in alignment with the patient’s job description and expected physical tasks.
A therapist may recommend Work Conditioning to the physician following an initial Physical or Occupational Therapy prescription if progress has plateaued, or when the patient is ready for and may benefit from this transition program to return to work. The patient’s job demands and therapy expectations would be reviewed with the patient with a care plan developed. This Work Conditioning program is typically 2-3 hour sessions, 3 times a week for up to 4 weeks.
Work Conditioning care plans usually include a combination of two elements: Conditioning and Job Simulation. Conditioning includes training in flexibility, stabilization, strengthening, and endurance. In Conditioning, the patient practices related tasks and movements to those expected in their job, all while performing proper and safe body mechanics.
Through a collaborative team approach with the physician, employer, nurse case manager, and the patient, we gather information, establish expectations, and gain an understanding of the work requirements. Throughout the process, patients can expect feedback on their progress at every step of the way.
Atlantic Orthopaedic Specialists designed our Return to Work program with an individualized patient-centric approach, focusing on restoring quality of life and physical function following an injury. We empower patients to return to work with self-confidence, with the knowledge that their recovery has been medically safe and appropriate. Our goal is for patients returning to work to fully participate with the same level of proficiency as before. We strive to accomplish this goal by designing unique treatment plans specific to each job description and developing job simulation tasks to ensure readiness to return to work.