Our PT & Me physical therapists are dedicated to assisting the injured worker return to their job safely, with a decreased risk for re-injury. A work hardening program is a highly structured, goal oriented treatment program that improves work related functional abilities, with a skilled approach of graded exercise, activities, and education.
CRITICAL COMPONENTS OF OUR WORK HARDENING PROGRAM
- Progressive program attended 4-8 hours / day.
- Excellent patient to therapist ratio with constant supervision by a licensed OT or/and PT.
- Completion of a musculoskeletal evaluation to identify deficit areas that affect safe performance of essential job functions, and to form the basis of the treatment approach.
- An exercise program tailored towards improving the flexibility, strength, and endurance required for a successful return to work. At completion of the program, a comprehensive home exercise program will be provided to ensure long term success.
- Assist the work hardening participant resume appropriate work behaviors including attendance, punctuality, and response to supervision.
- Performance of graded job simulation activities, so that the participants gain confidence in their ability to return to work, and so they can apply their body mechanics training in a meaningful way.
- Comprehensive patient education on pacing, stress management, back care, and injury prevention as indicated.
- Upon Request a physical capacity / work capacity evaluation will be performed at the completion of the work hardening program to objectify the ability of the participant to return to work.
THE INDUSTRIAL ATHLETE
Industrial workers use their bodies to perform their jobs just as an athlete would. An athlete may do his/her job for 3 hours during a game whereas an industrial worker uses their body for 8 hours every day. It is important to take care of the most important tool you have at your disposal, your body.
It is important to maintain hydration to prevent premature exhaustion and muscle injury. Appropriate fluid levels are important for cells in the body to recover and repair. This is especially important in workers who are in a warm environment or have to use heavy non-breathable PPEs. Some studies recommend drinking 1 cup of water every 30 minutes.
• Maintaining hydration is also important when not at work. When a person has sign of dehydration, it is usually too late. No longer sweating or becoming thirsty are signs of dehydration.
• Alcohol can have an adverse effect as it increases the rate of dehydration.
Proper rest is important for proper muscular recovery and prevents fatigue at the end of the day and week. When the body and mind do not have the necessary “shut down” time, physically – fatigue and injury can result and mentally – unclear thinking, poor decisions and shortness of temper can result.
A good method of injury prevention is stretching. A good program will be developed for the most significant muscle groups you use during your work day.
General rules for stretching:
1. Stretching is to be done slowly, gently and should not produce pain.
2. Perform stretches until you feel a slight pull and hold.
3. DO NOT BOUNCE during stretches.
4. Hold stretches for seconds, not counts.
5. It is not uncommon to have some muscular soreness for 3-5 days after performing stretches that you may not be accustomed to.
6. If you feel sharp pain with any stretch – stop performing that particular stretch.
Article about the industrial athlete was written by the Therapy Team at STAR Physical Therapy.