That early return to work promotes positive outcomes with respect to claim costs, long-term disability, workplace productivity is indisputable. One major problem facing medical professionals, employers, insurers and other stakeholders however is that there are frequently insufficient suitable duties to allow this to occur.
In this situation the physical demands of work can be simulated in a gym setting. This needs to be professionally prescribed and managed.
There are a number of situations where this is especially indicated.
- Insufficient suitable activity in the workplace
- Cessation of functional improvement with acute treatment protocols
- The worker’s injury is not chronic and disabling (usually less than 12 weeks after injury)
- The worker has psychosocial risk factors or delayed recovery
- Activity levels are not progressing and/or fluctuate widely
- The worker requires a high level of supervision, instruction and reinforcement
Keys to Effective Programming
- Collaboration and clear communication between key parties regarding goals, outcome measures and return to work plan
- Exercises are individually prescribed and specifically address the worker’s job requirements
- Use of an exercise facility in preference to a home program
- Outcome measures should be related to functional and work-related outcomes
- Buy-in from the worker
- Integration with psychosocial interventions
- Self management strategies
- Sufficient time for the exercises to produce physical adaptations
- Use of a cognitive behavioural approach to the exercise prescription
- A high level of monitoring and supervision
- Correct timing of exercises
- Various Types of Programs Available
This is useful in the early stages of rehabilitation or for the person with a very low level of fitness or high degree of disability.
Core Strengthening Programs
These are useful particularly for persons involved in activities, which require sustained postures or for those who have long term problems as it has been established that the deep back and abdominal muscles (the core) generally dysfunction in cases of longer term low back pain. They are an excellent intermediate step in the rehabilitation of someone involved in manual work and can be taught in conjunction with work specific exercises.
Work Specific Gym Programs
These are useful in the later stage of rehabilitation to simulate work tasks, teach correct manual handling and to increase overall fitness.
Advanced Physiotherapy and Injury Prevention has been prescribing these type of programs for over a decade. We have a purpose build exercise facility, which enables work simulation and effective programming. Our Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists are all NSW Workcover accredited.