Work conditioning and work hardening are high levels of therapeutic intervention designed to help patients regain enough function to return to work. These therapies are ideal for patients that have already progressed through traditional physical therapy but still lack full function in relation to specific duties required on the job. Work conditioning and work hardening utilize real or simulated work tasks to help prepare patients for a safe transition back into the work force while preventing new or worsened injuries.
Work conditioning is a rigorous conditioning program designed to help patients regain their systemic, neurological, cardiopulmonary and musculoskeletal functions. This includes strength, mobility, power, endurance, motor control and functional abilities. Work conditioning provides a middle step in the process of returning to work. The goals of a work conditioning program are to restore the patient’s physical capacity and functional abilities, to prevent the recurrence of the same injury, and to decrease their fear of returning to work.
Work hardening is an individualized, highly-structured program designed to help patients return to their pre-injury work level in a safe and timely manner. It aims to help patients regain their biomechanical, cardiovascular, metabolic, neuromuscular and psychosocial functions in conjunction with their work tasks. Work hardening is multidisciplinary, using a physical therapist, occupational therapist, psychologist and vocational specialist. It includes strengthening and flexibility exercises, cardiovascular conditioning, spine and joint stabilization exercises and job task training (i.e. pushing, pulling, crouching, lifting, bending, sitting, or twisting).
Who can benefit from work conditioning/hardening
• Police Officers
• FBI Agents
• Correction Officers
• Construction Workers
• Healthcare Providers
• Delivery Drivers
• Post office employees
• Any other labor-intensive professionals
What to expect
Work conditioning and work hardening are 4 to 8-week functional programs designed to meet the specific job needs of the patient. Work conditioning sessions are 1-3 hours for 2-3 days per week. Work hardening sessions are 2-4 hours for 3-5 days per week. Each program is individualized to treat the patient’s specific injury and dependent on what the treating physician prescribes. The time and length of the sessions can usually be tailored around the patients work schedule.
At the first visit, a therapist will evaluate the injury and review the patients’ needs in relation to their job. To determine the patient’s functional bassline, the therapist will need to:
1. Determine the patient’s current physical activeness (sedentary, light, medium or heavy).
2. Determine the patient’s aerobic capacity (poor, fair, average, good or excellent).
3. Determine the patient’s grip strength.
4. Determine the patient’s mobility, core and joint specific strengths in relation to their injury.
After the functional baseline is determined, an individualized program will be designed to increase the patient’s current physical abilities. This will be done with medium to high intensity cardiovascular and strengthening exercises as well as stretching and mobility conditioning specifically tailored to the tasks the patient is required perform at their job. The referring physician, and any other authorized parties, will be given periodic progress updates which will document the patient’s attendance, participation, and progression. Discharge orders are given when the patient either regains full function or they reach a plateau.
Work conditioning and work hardening in Houston
If you have been injured in any accident and are unable to perform all of the tasks your job may require OakBend Medical Center offers both work conditioning and work hardening therapies as well as a full range of other goal-oriented therapies to help you regain full function and mobility. OakBend Medical Center prides itself on providing the best quality care for all of their patients even before you walk through their doors for your first appointment. For more information please click here to read more about the therapy and rehabilitation services they offer or call 281-341-3000 to schedule a therapy appointment today.