Is Your Employee Ready to Return to the Same Job After Their Injury?

  • Home
  • Articles posted by Contact Physical Therapy

Is Your Employee Ready to Return to the Same Job After Their Injury?

boxesdesk

Whether your employee can return to work full-time, part-time, or can’t return at all, it is important to begin to plan how and when they can safely return to work.  To aid in the return-to-work process, an employee may be offered modified or alternative duties until they are able to return to their previous position.

However, a worker should be given sufficient time to recover from the injury or illness and not feel pressured into returning to work.  Employers have an obligation to help the employee return to work and to ensure that they are not treated unfavorably because of their injury.  If an employee returns to work and finds their injury keeps them from completing the tasks at hand, they may request a collection of workers compensation benefits.

An effective return-to-work program can benefit employers in numerous ways.  Such a program can help avoid millions of dollars in fines and penalties, reduce workers’ compensation costs, retain experienced employees, improve employee morale, and help ensure equal opportunity of employment for persons with disabilities.  Here are some practices in returning an injured employee to work:

 

  • Contact the injured employee and start the interactive process
  • Describe essential functions and usual duties of jobs
  • Obtain work capacities and restrictions
  • Research and evaluate possible accommodations  and make an offer of work
  • Implement and monitor the accommodation

 

Your company can save thousands of dollars by using a system like the Physical Capacity Profile Testing System (PCP) will give definitive answers to often unanswered questions.   The PCP is a comprehensive testing procedure developed by an orthopedic physician that documents the test subject’s physical skills and American Medical Association related impairments.  It helps occupational and human resource professionals place employees in the appropriate job to minimize the potential of injury while documenting each employee’s physical capacity and impairments.

The Physical Capacity Profile Testing System can be utilized in post-hire testing as well as return-to-duty testing. In post-hire testing the procedure helps the employer determine an employee’s physical capabilities and limitations before they start work. It provides quantitative data that assists in the placement process while meeting all regulatory compliance criteria. Return-to-duty testing allows the employer to be responsible for returning the employee to what their capabilities were upon hire.

workers compensation

Reducing Work Comp Costs and Improve Performance

workers compensation

Due to employers asking for help in reducing their work comp exposures, Occupational Performance Corporation went to work to find another tool or resource to hire more physically-able bodies.  The Physical Capacity Profile Testing System was developed to help employers by:  1. Reducing injuries by ensuring employees have the physical strength to safely perform their job responsibilities, 2. Reducing workers compensation by documenting impairments an employee brings with them to the workplace, per the AMA Guides, and 3. Providing pre-injury baseline measurements on an employee, allowing treating professionals to expedite the rehabilitation process.

Across multiple states, the PCP System is performing thousands of tests in hospitals, physical therapy offices, and more, all aiding in supplying the answers and methods to help employers in the community reduce injuries.

Only a 30 minute exam, The Components of the Physical Capacity Profile® Testing System Include:

 

  • Comprehensive Medical Review
  • Upper Extremity Strength
  • Lower Extremity Strength
  • Trunk Strength
  • Fitness
  • Spirometry
  • Active Lumbar Range of Motion
  • Lower Extremity Mobility
  • Maximum Lifting Capability
  • Safe Lifting Technique


Advantages Rapid delivery of test results allows management to quickly place newly hired employees. The data is electronically captured to avoid human error over multiple tests. This allows matching of physical capacity to job demands based on essential functions of the job.

Cost Justifications By reducing the risk of injury, the number of workers’ compensation claims and related premiums are also reduced. Cost-conscious management knows that fewer lost work days due to workers’ compensation claims will result in increased productivity and profits.

Medical Ratings The Physical Capacity Profile® provides medical documentation of impairment in accordance with the American Medical Association (AMA) Guides (4th Edition). This baseline information is critical in managing future workers’ compensation claims with each state’s workers’ compensation statutes. When applicable, the results are presented in accordance with AMA guidelines.

How Can This System Benefit Me as an Employer? When employees are physically matched to the job they are substantially less likely to be injured.

Many companies require a post-hire physical. However, the typical physical does not adequately document musculoskeletal imbalances, which could lead to injuries. The standard physician physical is simply not cost-effective or protective in reducing workers’ compensation claims.

This system can only help human resource professionals correctly place employees. It also can help reduce costs and increase productivity. Fewer lost workdays due to workers compensation claims will result in increase productivity and profits.

Stretching & Exercise

Stretching & Exercising: The Why & How

Stretching & Exercise

Stretching is the unsung hero when it comes to fitness

Stretching is critical towards achieving peak fitness condition. It is ideal to stretch before and after your workouts as you are more prone to injury if you do not stretch before exercise. Stretching prior to exercise warms up your body, making it less prone to accidents and injuries. Stretching following exercise relieves muscle tightness, improves flexibility and cools down the body.

Many people opt out of stretching but it is an important part of any exercise with many benefits:

The Benefits of Stretching

o Increased flexibility and joint range of motion

o Improved circulation

o Better posture

o Reduces stress

o Enhanced coordination

o Lengthens your muscles

o Increases blood flow

o Provides a sense of peace and well-being

 

Proper Stretching Techniques

o Warm up first. When muscles are cold, the risk of pulled muscles is increased. Do a cardio exercise for at least five minutes prior to activity.

o Hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds. It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.

o Don’t bounce. If you bounce as you stretch it can cause small tears (microtears) in the muscle.

o Relax and don’t forget to breathe

o Stretch both sides

o Stretch before and after activity

occupational injuries

Occupational Injuries

OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES

occupational injuries

An occupational injury is bodily damage resulting from working.  On average, there are 23,000 on-the-job injuries in the United States every day. Annually, this adds up to 8.5 million injuries and a huge cost to workers, their families and our economy.  But, it’s not injuries alone that workers deal with. Hundreds of thousands of employees develop illnesses on the job, costing $58 billion a year.

Common causes of occupational injury are poor ergonomics, manual handling of heavy loads, misuse or failure of equipment, exposure to general hazards, inadequate safety training and clothing, or jewelry/long hair becoming tangled in machinery. Other general hazards in a work environment include electricity, fire, height, powerful or sharp moving machinery, poisonous gases, or working under weak or heavy structures.

There are many methods of preventing or reducing occupational injuries, including anticipation of problems by investing in something such as the Physical Capacity Profile Testing System.  The PCP Testing System helps employers reduce on-the-job injuries by ensuring employees have the physical strength to safely perform their job responsibilities.  It also aids in reducing workers compensation exposure by documenting impairments an employee brings with them to the workplace, per the American Medical Association (AMA) Guides.  The information gathered from the PCP Testing System can prove to be extremely valuable for a number of professionals involved in injury treatment and injury compensation including the employee, physicians, employers and insurance companies.

safety at work

Health and safety at work: a basic guide

Health and safety at work: a basic guide

 safety at work

What steps must an employer take to ensure they comply with the laws on health and safety and minimize the risk of employees becoming ill or getting injured while at work?  There are a number of health and safety measures all employers must implement in the workplace, and below we have outlined a few.

 

Risk Assessment:  All employers must conduct a risk assessment of their workplace. A typical risk assessment will ensure that possible hazards or dangers to workers’ health and safety have been identified and that sufficient protection is in place to prevent an accident.  Potential hazards are noted (these may include, among others, slippery surfaces, people working at height, dangerous substances, noisy environments and areas where vehicles are in motion).  Also noted are those workers who may be at risk from these potential hazards. The level of the risk must then be gauged along with the adequacy or otherwise of the precautions and protection currently in place – this will dictate whether further protective measures need to be introduced.

 

Signs:  Each workplace must show the following signs:  A copy, prominently displayed, of the Health and Safety law poster, a certificate of employers’ liability insurance; and signs warning employees of particular workplace dangers or hazards such as machinery, vehicles at work and potentially harmful substances.

 

Equipment:  All equipment used by employees at work must be safe.  The law requires that such equipment must be appropriate for the use to which it is put and that it must be checked regularly and kept in safe working order.  The equipment must come with safety precautions like protective clothing and warning signs where appropriate.  The only employees who can use equipment are those who have the training and the information needed to operate the equipment safely.

 

First Aid:  The law requires employers ensure there are adequate first aid facilities and equipment in the workplace. These must include a properly filled first aid box.  Firms handling dangerous substances or using potentially dangerous machinery are usually required to have further first aid procedures in place.

 

Prevent Injuries:  Using a service such as the Physical Capacity Profile Testing System will assist employers in preventing work place injuries by properly matching their employees’ physical abilities to their new job.  Utilizing state-of-the-art proprietary software, the PCP machine completes a collection of multiple measurements in as little as 30 minutes with results available to employers within minutes.  The post offer physical exam and testing accesses human performance to reduce workers’ comp claims, lower employer insurance premiums and minimize employee injuries.

 

 

A Word From Our Patients

We always appreciate when our patients let us know how they feel about the work we do, whether it be positive or negative. It allows us to evaluate ourselves on a regular basis to make sure we are doing the best we can!

Below is a letter we received from one of our patients to Brendan Cousineau from our Scottsdale location!

Dear Brendan,

I want to thank you for all the great therapy you have given me with my knee injury. You and Pam really do an incredible job in helping people recover from all types of issues. It was amazing to me that you predicted the need for surgery even before I went to the surgeon.  Because of what you had shared with me, I felt more comfortable in having the surgery and knew that I could go back to you for the rehabilitation.

I’m very impressed with the attention you’ve given me and how I see you treat all other patients.  You really show caring and a need to see all patients improve their quality of life. A large part of recuperation is the encouragement you share with your clients.

You have a wonderful spirit and pass on optimism to all of us.  That is a huge part of the healing process.   I also appreciate your skill level in accessing what can be done to improve my health.  When I presented you with my neck problem, I felt more relief than I have had in a long time.  I will diligently follow the exercise program you give me to strength my neck so that I can keep up with my small business operation. I have lived with a lot of pain in my low back but manage to keep that at bay with swimming and not sitting too long at one time. The neck is another issue and I look forward to a few more sessions with you so you can help me learn how to relieve that pain on an ongoing basis. I want to stay productive and not suffer with that “pain in the neck”. 

You have really helped me in the last nine months.  I can’t wait to go dancing again…Thanks for all you’ve done to keep me active and happy in my life.  Please continue all your good works with those who need your expertise and have the desire to live with less pain or be pain free. You’re making this a better world one patient at a time.

Sincerely, Sandy S.

Keep up the good work, team!

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have!

Proper posture

Proper Posture Helps Reduce Back Pain

Proper posture

Do you have good or poor posture? Check yourself right now as you are reading this- are you sitting upright or have totally sunk into your chair?

Without the daily reminders from parents or teachers of “sit up straight!” and “don’t slouch!”, it is harder to remember to do just that.

In order to prevent neck and back injuries, strong flexible muscles are a must to support the spine’s natural curves. In order for your back to be healthy, the spine’s curves must be in balanced or neutral alignment at all times in both stationary activities, and with movement. A lot of conditions such as sciatica disc trouble, low back pain, whiplash, neck pain, pinched nerves and arthritis have one thing in common: each condition can feel better or worse by the way you align and balance your head, neck and back as you go about your daily activities.

Proper Posture Checklist

  • Are you holding your head straight?
  • Are your shoulders in line with your ears?
  • Are your shoulders level?
  • Are your hips level?
  • Is your chin parallel to the floor?

Tips for Improving Posture

• Keep your shoulders level and support your arms while sitting

• Change your position when performing an activity for a long period of time

• Pull your stomach muscles in

• Think “tall” while you are standing

• Sit in a chair with a straight back with your back supported and feet flat on the floor

• Keep your weight down and exercise regularly

• Sleep with a pillow that supports your neck comfortably

• Do Planks, Wall Squats and crunches to help you stand and sit with correct spinal alignment.

There are key benefits to improving your posture that will make a world of a difference. Proper posture allows you to breathe properly, increasing your concentration and thinking ability. Most importantly, it will help with avoiding health complications. Over time, bad posture habits can result in structural changes to the body that can affect physical appearance and reduce functioning of joints and muscles. The sooner you begin practicing good posture, the better.

At Contact Physical Therapy, we provide one on one contact and a direct treatment approach with each patient. It is our goal to return every patient to their active lifestyle.

hand therapist

Physical Therapy and Hand Therapy

Patients can have numerous questions regarding physical therapy and hand therapy, what to expect and why it may be the best option for them. So, to help you answer those patient questions, we interviewed Noah Arenson, PT and Karen Thomas, OTR/L, CHT.


physical therapistWhy do you think physical therapy may be the best treatment plan for me?

Noah: The initial evaluation with determine that fact. The advantage of undergoing physical therapy is learning your body’s limitations and discovering how to address them to your

advantage. If we do not identify impairments we can address through physical therapy, we would discuss with your healthcare provider a more appropriate route for care.

How involved will you be in my day-to-day therapy?

Noah: Each session would involve hands-on manual treatments, as indicated, followed by progressive therapeutic exercise specific to your individual goals. I, or your assigned physical therapist, would be involved directly throughout the entire visit every visit.

Will I see the same physical therapist for each appointment, or will I be assigned a different therapist each time?

Noah: You will see the same physical therapist from the initial evaluation until your last appointment. You will not work with anyone but your assigned physical therapist.

What are some things I can do on my own, at home, to improve my condition?

Noah: Depending on what we discover through the initial evaluation, we will identify the specific muscle groups to strengthen, stretch or coordinate. A home exercise program is provided at the first session and progressed throughout your time of care. Open communication with your therapist is important in reaching your rehabilitation goals.

hand therapistWill I experience pain or discomfort during my visit?

Karen: This will depend on your diagnosis. If you have a condition such as a wrist or finger fracture and are coming out of a cast or brace, the wrist and fingers can be stiff or uncomfortable when motion is initiated. Certified Hand Therapists are trained to respect pain and the healing structures of the injury. Most patients tolerate treatment well & note improvement the first session.

How long will each hand therapy session be?

Karen: Sessions are usually 1-1.5 hours, allowing for one-on-one manual therapy, modalities of heat, ice and ultrasound as needed, and exercises and instruction in home exercises and care.

What are the most common injuries or conditions requiring hand therapy?

Karen: Conditions we commonly treat include fractures (shoulder, elbow, wrist & fingers), tendon lacerations and repairs, trigger finger or trigger thumb, carpal tunnel or cubital tunnel syndrome or release, rotator cuff syndrome or repair, deQuervain’s tendonitis, all upper extremity tendonitis conditions, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and infections.

How do you determine what course of hand therapy treatment is best for me?

Karen: During your first visit you will undergo an initial evaluation including questions about your pain, symptoms, functional abilities, range of motion and sensation and strength measurements. Your therapist will identify problems and work with you to set goals. In some instances, your diagnosis may have a set protocol for splint duration and when you will be able to fully move and strengthen your arm/hand. You and your therapist will then review your protocol, goals and plans.

mesa physical therapy

Men’s Health Awareness Month

fathersdayMen’s Health Awareness Month

Men tend to be more aggressively active on the weekend, which can lead to an increased risk of injury. To highlight Men’s Health Awareness Month, and Men’s Health Week (10th-16th), we’ve listed helpful tips on common male injuries to help you, or the men in your life, lead a healthy and safe life.

 

Ankle Sprains

It is common for men to turn or twist an ankle while playing a weekend game of basketball or football. Although these may be difficult to avoid in some cases, proper warm-up and stretches performed prior to activity can help reduce the chances of injury.

Groin Pulls

A quick side-to-side motion can sometimes cause a strain of the muscles on the inner thigh. These are very common in hockey, soccer, football and baseball. To treat a groin pull, ice and rest. These pulls often heal on their own, but if it doesn’t, consult a healthcare provider.

Hamstring Strain

Running sports and activities with a quick kicking motion of the leg can cause hamstring strains. Strains can also occur in water sports when there is a sudden forward bending motion. These injuries can take a while to heal, so it is imperative to ice, rest and consult a physical therapist on how to speed up the recovery.

Shin Splints

If a strenuous and sudden running program is started without proper planning, shin splints can occur. Running on different and uneven surfaces can cause pain down the front of the lower leg. Rest, ice and over the counter anti-inflammatory medications may relieve most of the pain. If it persists, see a healthcare provider to rule out a more serious injury such as a stress fracture.

ACL Injuries

One of the most severe injuries athletes may experience is an ACL injury. A sudden twisting while the foot is planted can cause an ACL tear. An audible ‘pop’ may be heard, followed by discomfort and swelling. Rest, ice, compression and elevation are important during the first stages of this injury. If the injury is sustained, it is important to see a physician for evaluation. To stay active, surgery is often required.

Tennis Elbow

Golfing and tennis are very popular sports for many men. Frequent swings and poor body mechanics can contribute to this overuse injury. Unfortunately, one of the most common remedies for this condition is rest, however there are some other treatments that may be of benefit. Be sure to ask a physical therapist or physician what you can do to manage your elbow pain for a safe return to sports.

physical therapy function

What does Function Mean to You?

physical therapy functionFunction means different things to different people. When a patient has a functional limitation, they have a restriction of the ability to perform a physical action or activity in an efficient manner. The goal at Contact Physical Therapy is to return patients to their level of function.

Children

Sprains and strains can affect children, but if treated correctly, we can get them back to playing their sports with little to no down time. Our physical therapists first concentrate on controlling any pain & swelling associated with the injury. Then, they may start functional activities such as running, jumping and climbing. Returning children to playing is returning them to function.

Young Adults

Young adults can be plagued with a variety of injuries. Whether they are a high school or college athlete, or the occasional runner, swimmer or hiker, injuries can occur & they need to return to function. Function for the young adult could mean returning them to their active lifestyle including sports specific activities or drills.

Adults

The adult may define function in a very different way. Sometimes the adult needs to work or drive ‘pain-free’. While working with the adult population, special attention may be made on postural exercises & activities and strengthening exercises. By the age of 40, adults begin to lose 8% of muscle every 10 years – therefore concentration on exercise & posture is critical in returning adults to function.

Geriatrics

By the age of 70, we have lost over 15% of our muscle, and oftentimes balance has significantly decreased. For the geriatric patient, we pay special attention to gait & balance activities, allowing them to be functionally unassisted while performing activities of daily living such as getting in & out of bed or a chair, up & down stairs, or simply navigating uneven surfaces.