Are you currently off of work, or working light duty due to an on-the-job injury? If so, finding a good work conditioning program will help you in several ways; including a faster return to (full-duty) work, saving you from potentially strained relationships with your boss and co-workers, and minimizing your lost wages. Plus, research shows being productive and having structure in our days has many psychological benefits; meaning, the less work days that are missed equals happier people!
So, what should any good work conditioning program consist of?
- First, your occupational or physical therapist should obtain a job description from your employer so (s)he can gain information regarding the physical tasks you perform at your job.
- After your therapist reviews the job description with you, (s)he should assess your abilities to perform the physical demands, such as lifting, pushing, carrying, and bending. This assessment should allow you to discontinue the activity if you notice an increase in symptoms, and your therapist to monitor you throughout the process, as well as for safety and proper technique. After your maximum abilities have been recorded, your therapist should then compare them to your job’s physical demands.
- Next, work conditioning should be initiated: 1-2 hours, 3x/week ideally. Work Conditioning is a circuit style approach with simulated work tasks to increase strength, mobility, and tolerance. These work-related tasks should be created with your involvement to closely resemble your actual work tasks, and then graded over subsequent sessions to steadily increase your functional abilities towards returning to work.
Here’s an example:
Bob is a driver for a trucking company, delivering packages to various customer locations.
Bob has the following physical demands listed in his Job Description:
Lift – up to 30 lbs Occasionally, up to 20 pounds Frequently
Carry – up to 20 lbs Occasionally
At his first therapy session, Bob is able to:
Lift – 10 lbs from the floor to waist-high shelf
Carry – 5 lbs for 50 feet
So we can see there is a gap in his job demands and his functional abilities.
So what happens next for Bob, and where can I find this type of Work Conditioning program?
At PDR Clinics, we are a strong return to work, stay at work advocate. We strive to gather and relay information regarding returning you to full duty, as well as any related barriers. In this example, our therapists will start by looking at Bob’s lifting results. PDR Clinics’ therapists are skilled at ensuring our patients feel safe and within their capacity while performing work tasks. Also, our therapists get creative with work tasks, ask questions until they have a clear picture of the job, and can simulate them in the clinic. They will coach to body mechanics, pacing, taking breaks, stretches that can be modified for the work environment.
Maximum lifting, pushing, and pulling abilities are assessed weekly, to grade work conditioning tasks and report functional changes and upgraded physical abilities. This information is communicated to the PDR Clinics physician so the Workability Report can be updated to closely match Bob’s abilities so that he can return to his work as soon as possible.
All of this will translate to your feeling much more confident following a work related injury. PDR Clinics partners closely with employers through PDRWorks, our Direct to Employer Division, to keep employees safe, healthy, and productive at work.