By Jaime Sigurdsson, CEAS, Director of Workers’ Compensation at CORA Physical Therapy
The practice of physical therapy has been around since the early 1800’s and consists of massage, manipulation, and exercise, all of which are proven to aid in improved range of motion and strength. Range of motion and strength allow for improved mobility which is essential in performing the physical demands required at work and home. In addition, research shows people with musculoskeletal pain report reduction in pain and improved function when movement and exercise are included in their recovery and maintenance programs.
For injured workers, fear of movement can have a negative impact on recovery. However, by including physical therapy in the recovery plan of care, the injured worker’s treatment will include the basic exercises and functional activities necessary to allow for increased ability to to perform their essential job demands. By understanding and addressing fear avoidance and providing education about the body’s natural healing process, the injured worker is given a chance to move past the acute pain focus and understand the importance of improved range of motion, strength, and mobility. Although the body’s natural response to acute pain is to limit movement, persistent immobility is harmful and can limit the ability for the body to heal and return to its pre-injury function.
At times, injuries are more extensive and require surgery and or longer periods of recovery. These types of injuries usually result in overall whole body deconditioning due to the body’s inability to perform at the same pre-injury level of exercise and function. For injured workers who were functioning at a Sedentary to Light demand level, this may not be an issue. However, for the injured workers who are expected to return to work performing Medium to Very Heavy physical work, loss of endurance, and overall strength can negatively impact their ability to perform therapy programs that focus on work day tolerance, increased cardiovascular function, and total body strength which aid in pain management and promote functional restoration.
Whether acute, sub-acute, or chronic pain, movement and exercise have proven beneficial with pain reduction, reduced disability, reduced depression, and improved quality of life. Physical therapists are movement and exercise specialists and educators who provide the knowledge and understanding of the body’s physiological responses to pain. By incorporating physical therapy at all stages of the recovery process, the goal of return to work is more likely achieved.
The article above was originally published in Workplace Health: Fall 2019 Edition by Jaime Sigurdsson, CEAS, Director of our Workers’ Compensation Program (WorkTracks) at CORA Physical Therapy. This year, the 74th Annual Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference invited Jaime to participate in a panel discussion on Managing Conflict Inherent In A Workers’ Compensation Claim. Her knowledge and expertise of the work comp landscape were on full display!
Managing Conflict Inherent In A Workers’ Compensation Claim
Session Moderator: Jim Robert, Owner of Best Foot 4Ward, LLC
Session Overview: The end goal of every workers’ compensation claim is to get the injured worker back to work (and their pre-injury condition) as quickly and cost-effectively as possible; but if everyone has the same overall objective, why does misalignment occur throughout the process? Learn how coordination among the key players of the claim ensures focus on the “real exposure.” As priorities differ between stakeholders, discover creative ways to build stronger alignment.
WATCH the expert panel consisting of a medical provider, defense counsel, and risk manager as they discover and discuss better methods for handling workers’ compensation claims.