While outpatient physical or occupational therapy is valuable to treat worker injuries, once an injured worker's ability plateaus, there
may still be deficits due to deconditioning.
Work conditioning is appropriate when a worker reaches that plateau but still has difficulties performing the functions of their job.
These cases may need a program that "fills the gap" and reduces the risk of re-injury.
Work conditioning is a functional, therapeutic intervention that seeks to reduce injuries by gradually increasing simulated work levels to a
pre-injury level. This functional program establishes goals, which assist and challenge patients to work toward their highest level and focuses
on their return to work.
Work conditioning is a specialty area and while many clinics offer it, in reality, some only offer a general strength and conditioning program that
may or may not prepare an injured worker for work. The following are some things to consider when choosing a work conditioning program.
Make sure your clinic routinely performs work conditioning as a program.
The Memorial Industrial Rehab (MIR) work conditioning program is offered on a daily basis, and is overseen by senior occupational therapist,
Don Rayhill, OTR/L. Don possesses 16 years of experience in work injury management. Occupational therapist Nathan Yeager, MOT, OTR/L assists with
the work conditioning program and also provides hand therapy and ergonomic workspace analysis.
Look for a clinic that primarily treats injured workers and the workers' compensation population.
MIR offers a continuum of services that primarily services injured workers. Our staff includes specialists trained in the areas of
workers' compensation and understands the unique nature and characteristics of the workers' compensation population.
Ensure your clinic is able to simulate job functions as part of the treatment.
MIR utilizes a wide variety of job simulation stations as therapeutic intervention. The activities may be as simple as positional tolerances,
i.e.: turning a screwdriver, digging, climbing in and out of a truck cab or as complex as climbing a utility pole while secured to a safety line.
These activities are controlled and can be gradually increased toward the levels required for work. MIR can simulate most all job functions to
help workers return to work quickly, safely and successfully.
Understand what an appropriate length of time is for participation in work conditioning.
MIR's work conditioning program consists of functional exercises and simulated work activities. Daily sessions are two hours in length and can
progress to a longer simulated work day (four to six hours) as needed. The program progresses the client's functional work-related abilities
allowing a timely and effective return to work. Typically, a program should be less than four to six weeks, depending on the patient.