Whether it’s spending a day typing or laying carpet, repetitive motion can cause muscle injuries, strains or other accidents. Getting back to work after a long recovery period can be a challenge.
According to Bruce Hallmann, MD, an orthopedic surgeon who treats patients at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital, patients are able to regain mobility and strength with physical and occupational therapy. Those who may need additional therapy might be referred to a specialized program, called Work Hardening.
“Many workers have specific physical demands on the job,” said Dr. Hallmann. “The Work Hardening program addresses any unique issues of function and conditioning, which can help patients return to work sooner.”
Working together, the physician and specialized therapists develop a treatment plan. “Physical and occupational therapists play a key role in facilitating the recovery process,” Dr. Hallmann said. “The goal is to restore patients so they can meet their work responsibilities.”
By bringing in tools from the workplace, therapists can see and correct how the tools are being used. For instance, a carpet layer may kneel most of the day or a carpenter may screw and unscrew equipment that is positioned over his head. Those scenarios are re-created so patients can practice their work skills in a safe environment, conditioning the body for a return to work.
“In these tough economic times, we understand more than ever how important it is for people to return to work,” said Kathy Eisel, outpatient rehab manager at Adventist Paulson Rehab Center in La Grange. “Performing familiar work tasks builds a patient’s confidence. They can see that they have the ability to get back to work. Their belief is sparked.”
Early intervention is key, and the first step is education. Therapists work with patients to determine what activities are safe and which should be avoided. They also help patients learn how to avoid future injuries. “We evaluate and educate them about their workstations so they can minimize stress to their body,” Eisel said. “We don’t want the same thing to happen again.”
For more information, or to find a physician, call us at 866-533-7968.