A work injury is a common fear for many people across Michigan and the United States. Autoworkers, stockers/order fillers, construction workers, retail associates, and even nurses all have repetitive tasks that make them susceptible to injuries. Looking closer, every workplace has its dangers such as hazardous chemicals, unsafe tools, and poor ergonomics. If an injury occurs at work, it can be difficult for a person to adjust from a pain-free life where a person can make a living; to recovering and returning to a routine.
Occupational therapy is a great tool available for any employee injured on the job to help alleviate the confusion about what is wrong with the body and provide rehab expertise so you can return to work without risking another injury or more damage.
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy (OT) is an all-natural healthcare specialty focused on helping people of all ages with workplace-related injuries return to a pain-free, active life and improve how a person performs activities at work. The procedure involves diagnosing the injury type, the severity of the injury, what factors at work or throughout the body contributed to the damage, and creating a plan to return to work safely.
Specifically, occupational therapy includes therapeutic activities to improve mobility, body mechanics, coordination, stability, and employability. Patient education also provides workers with practical techniques for managing any symptoms caused by a work-related injury and putting preventive measures to ensure further damage doesn’t occur.
Common Work-Related Injuries
Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs) are injuries caused by repetitive motions. CTD’s can be thought of as minor stress injuries that accumulate and worsen over time. A CTD can result from several things such as muscle imbalances, inefficient workstation setups, or just performing a task a thousand (or more) times a day for many years.
Injuries that fall under CTDs include:
- Clinical syndromes (inflammations of the tendons such as tennis elbow)
- Nerve compression disorder (for example, carpal tunnel syndrome)
Other common injuries that require Occupational Therapy include sudden injuries. These are injuries that happen quickly because of poor work safety standards or accidents such as:
- Slips, Trips, or Falls
- Overexertion and Muscle Strains
- Bone Fractures and Dislocations
- Neck Injuries (including whiplash)
- Back Injuries ( such as herniated disc)
Why is Occupational Therapy Important?
Being injured in the workplace, either by an accident or repetitive stress, can severely limit or completely change someone’s life. Occupational therapy benefits injured workers by allowing them to regain function after an injury so they can return to work confidently and safely.
In the process, injured workers learn the specific triggers that put them at risk for re-injury, how to handle a flare-up, and ways to adjust to limitations when returning to work.
Occupational therapy can help workers return to normal after common work-related injuries. It allows them to work more confidently and strengthen/maintain their bodies for many years after discharge.
Occupational Therapy Benefits
Regain Strength and Prevent Further Injury
When a worker sprains, strains, or breaks a muscle, ligament, or bone, the body becomes weakened. Occupational therapy strengthens the injured body part and surrounding areas so that you have better protection from being hurt again in the future. In the case of a CTD, rehabilitation of a tendon or ligament can include implementing proper techniques for repetitive tasks that can cause that injury.
After a sudden injury such as a disc herniation, learning proper body mechanics for pushing, pulling, and lifting is one of the best ways to prevent future accidents. In the process, your therapist will also use natural methods to decrease pain so that you can work on more advanced exercises.
With CTDs, if you and your doctor can catch an injury early enough, it is possible to reverse sufficient damage to avoid surgery. When a person takes advantage of the therapist’s expertise and comprehensive therapy plan, occupational therapy offers an opportunity to ease pain and regain function without going under the knife.
Eliminate Pain and Minimize Surgery Complications
After a workplace injury, occupational therapy can introduce methods for pain reduction, including splints, taping, and manual massage techniques.
After corrective surgery, occupational therapy will provide you with the best therapy treatments to return to full functionality quickly and safely. Communicating with your therapist, attending every appointment, and following a home exercise program can be critical in preventing setbacks, surgery complications, and re-injury.
One of the most frightening parts of an injury from work is how it may change a life. No one wants to give up their hobbies or not have a source of income, so losing independence because of an injury is can be a scary thing. Occupational therapy offers ways to help heal your body and provides new methods for adapting the world to your body’s unique needs.
How Balanced Physical Therapy Helps With Worker’s Comp Injuries
After you’ve been hurt, you just want to feel better. We understand your concerns and fears, which is why we provide full 1-hour appointments with a licensed and certified therapist. With no double or triple bookings, we make sure injured workers are our number one priority. Our therapists are known for working with your doctors and worker’s comp case managers so that you get the care and documentation as quickly as possible.
Rest assured that when you work with Balanced Physical Therapy, your health and recovery will be cared for by most professional staff (we do not use techs or aids to provide our treatments for our patients. With flexible appointment times for early morning and late evenings, we are always ready to help anyone in Mount Clemens, St. Clair Shores, Clinton Township, Fraser, and other surrounding areas of Macomb County.
Our primary focus is getting back to living with the joy and confidence you had pre-injury. To find out more about our occupational therapy treatments, insurance coverage, or appointment availability, give us a call at (586) 741-5806.