The American Physical Therapy Association describes Physical Therapists as “movement experts who improve quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education.” As physical therapists, with our patient’s help, we shape their goals around what improves their specific quality of life. Often, we picture athletes returning to sports or patients relearning how to walk. Less commonly, we think about the importance of injured workers returning to their jobs without limitations. It’s easy to understand why the rehabilitation process for return to sport is so intense and personalized for a patient. The rehabilitation process for return to work should be just as intense and personalized to assist the employee in reaching their goals.
People who work in labor intensive jobs are often thought of as “industrial athletes” due to the heavy physical demands of their jobs. In such settings, on-the-job injuries tend to be more common and it can be challenging to get back to work, especially when working requires lifting heavy loads, pushing, pulling, walking long distances, etc. In these situations, not only does the injured worker have to heal from their injury, but they also have to restore strength and endurance in order to return to work safely. Physical therapy after a work injury can decrease disability and impairment, so long as you are compliant with the program. Here are five ways your physical therapist can help you prepare to return to work after an injury or illness.