Repetitive by Nature: Overuse Injuries in the Workplace

January 27, 2016

It is reasonable to assume that most physicians, case managers, and physical therapists have all dealt with an injured worker who is diagnosed with a repetitive-use injury; otherwise referred to as “Repetitive Motion Disorder” (RMD) by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.  While RMD’s occur most frequently to the arm and hand, they can certainly develop elsewhere – the feet, knees, hips, and spine.  Indeed, most occupations existing today involve some degree of repetitive movement and the reality is that, given enough time, RMDs are inevitable.  The question therefore is this:  how does the injured worker return to their occupation when it’s the very nature of the occupation itself which is the cause of the injury?  The answer, as one would expect, lies in a greyish area between “easily” and “not going to happen.”  The reason for this convolution?  Well, one must look at the variables involved:

1)  Time The longer RMD is allowed to persist, the more  permanent its symptoms may become.  Recognition and Intervention are the first and, arguably, most important variables when considering the likelihood that the injured worker will return to their occupation.

2)  Job Demand:  An important step to resolving an RMD case is addressing the cause(s) behind the issue and, wherever possible, suggesting reasonable accommodations be made to their workspace to prevent re-injury.  This can be accomplished through a Jobsite Analysis, which objectively studies and evaluates the injured worker’s occupational environment.

3)  Course of Treatment:  It is not possible to know how the injured worker will perform once back at work, so allowing a chance to “practice” can determine the feasibility of a full duty return-to-work.  This is the function of Work Hardening – a long duration therapy program which is able to simulate (within reason) both the intensity and duration of the worker’s occupation.   The results of this program can also yield reasonable accommodation suggestions that can allow the injured worker to make a successful transition back to full duty.

Ultimately, timely action and cooperation between the injured worker, their healthcare provider(s), and their case manager can mean the difference between temporary and permanent injury when RMD is the diagnosis.  For more on RMD, click here.

 

Written by Industrial Health, a specialized Workers’ Compensation therapy center which services Northern Virginia , Sterling , Loudoun , Fairfax , Dulles , Chantilly , Leesburg , Ashburn , Herndon , Reston , Centreville ; and offers programs including Physical Therapy , Functional Capacity Evaluations ( FCE ) , Work Hardening , Work Conditioning , Work Simulation , Impairment Rating , Permanent Partial Disability Rating , Injury Prevention Programs

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Advice for Employers Regarding Handling Workers’ Compensation Claims

January 13, 2016

Injuries occur, but when they occur in the workplace they may set in motion a series of events that can prove costly to both the employee and the employer.  Mitigating this potential financial catastrophe should therefore be at the forefront of the employer’s list of priorities.  The best practice to do so, however, is not to be adversarial.  A recently published article by Ken Martin, of Property Casualty 360, emphasizes the proactive role the employer can play to reduce the costs of a Workers’ Compensation claim.  Ultimately, prompt claim filing and continued monitoring of each injured worker’s status are logical ways to keep costs low, while ensuring a positive employer/employee relationship is preserved through this sometimes arduous process.

 

Written by Industrial Health, a specialized Workers’ Compensation therapy center which services Northern Virginia , Sterling , Loudoun , Fairfax , Dulles , Chantilly , Leesburg , Ashburn , Herndon , Reston , Centreville ; and offers programs including Physical Therapy , Functional Capacity Evaluations ( FCE ) , Work Hardening , Work Conditioning , Work Simulation , Impairment Rating , Permanent Partial Disability Rating , Injury Prevention Programs

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“I’ve been injured on the job. Will I be fired?”

December 30, 2015

Cases where an injured worker is terminated, a.k.a. “fired,” while still attending physical therapy or enrolled in a Work Hardening program do, unfortunately, exist. The important thing to keep in mind if you are an injured worker and are worried about losing your job is this:  You cannot control the actions of your employer, so instead keep your focus on rehabilitating your injury as quickly, and safely, as possible.  It should be common sense that the longer you remain off work, the more likely your employer will find a replacement.  For occupations that require more specialized training and/or educational Degrees, the window of rehabilitation may be longer in duration.  However, regardless of the time off from work, no job is safe after you have sustained an injury.  Therefore, it is of the upmost importance that you, the injured worker, educate yourself.  Ask questions and stay in contact with your case manager, employer, and physician.  Strictly follow any rehabilitation program prescribed to you and avoid all activities that could jeopardize your recovering injury. If you have been terminated from your occupation, there are some considerations that can affect your case moving forward, stated very clearly in this article from 2013.

 

Written by Industrial Health, a specialized Workers’ Compensation therapy center which services Northern Virginia , Sterling , Loudoun , Fairfax , Dulles , Chantilly , Leesburg , Ashburn , Herndon , Reston , Centreville ; and offers programs including Physical Therapy , Functional Capacity Evaluations ( FCE ) , Work Hardening , Work Conditioning , Work Simulation , Impairment Rating , Permanent Partial Disability Rating , Injury Prevention Programs

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MET Testing and FCEs

October 21, 2015

A Metabolic Equivalent of Task test, or MET test, is an important component to any credible Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE).  When an injured worker has an extended absence from their occupation, their ability return in a safe and productive manner hinges not only on the successful rehabilitation of their specific injury, but also on the condition of their cardio-respiratory system.  A valid MET test is important because a discrepancy between cardio-respiratory fitness and the energy required to perform the injured worker’s target job may prove to be a significant hurdle to clear.  When considering occupations that demand high levels of cardiovascular conditioning, such as a Firefighter, the performance of a MET test is critical to ensure that their body is capable of safely meeting the challenge before returning them to their occupation.  Following physical therapy, the injured worker may prove strong enough to return to work, but do they possess the stamina to successfully reintegrate into their occupation?  MET testing can answer this question.

At Industrial Health, we incorporate MET testing into our objectively thorough, Matheson-based FCEs.  With the valuable information gained as a result of the FCE, physicians and case managers are able to make more informed decisions regarding their injured worker’s return-to-work path.

For more on MET testing, click here.

 

Written by Industrial Health, a specialized Workers’ Compensation therapy center which services Northern Virginia , Sterling , Loudoun , Fairfax , Dulles , Chantilly , Leesburg , Ashburn , Herndon , Reston , Centreville ; and offers programs including Physical Therapy , Functional Capacity Evaluations ( FCE ) , Work Hardening , Work Conditioning , Work Simulation , Impairment Rating , Permanent Partial Disability Rating , Injury Prevention Programs

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Looking for Workers’ Compensation Information?

September 16, 2015

The Workers’ Compensation process can often be a difficult path to navigate without some help.  Should you, the injured worker, find yourself in need of their services, follow this link to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission’s website.  A wealth of helpful information can be found here, including necessary forms and advice, which can assist you in making smart decisions regarding your case.  As with most things, the sooner you ‘get the ball rolling,’ the quicker the process will be!

 

Written by Industrial Health, a specialized Workers’ Compensation therapy center which services Northern Virginia , Sterling , Loudoun , Fairfax , Dulles , Chantilly , Leesburg , Ashburn , Herndon , Reston , Centreville ; and offers programs including Physical Therapy , Functional Capacity Evaluations ( FCE ) , Work Hardening , Work Conditioning , Work Simulation , Impairment Rating , Permanent Partial Disability Rating , Injury Prevention Programs

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Injury Prevention Programs

July 23, 2015

Injury Prevention Programs (IPP), which are explained in this recent news article, can be exceptionally valuable to workers and employers, alike.  Injuries in the workplace happen, but many can be prevented through the utilization of an IPP.  While IPPs can be implemented in any industry, the most common uses are in the industries of highest physical demand, such as firefighting, military, and law enforcement.  As this article explains, a Fire Department recently employed a physical therapist to assess each new recruits’ current level of physical conditioning, This is accomplished through “a series of measurements…beginning by measuring his or her vitals and continues with assessing everyone’s range of motion, form and flexibility…then continue to strength and stamina assessment.”  Where applicable, work simulation tasks can also be employed.  Using a firefighter as an example:  carrying / throwing / climbing a ladder, crawling, ceiling rips, etc.  The combination of all these measurements and tests can then been used, on an individual basis, to construct a conditioning program to address biomechanical issues that present themselves as high risk for injury.

Ultimately, the best way of treating an injury is prevention.  To reiterate, injuries are inevitable but there are programs available, such as an IPP, which can help reduce the frequency of injury; ensuring a stable, healthy workforce and, in turn, unburdening the Workers’ Compensation system and reducing costs to the employee, the employer, and state.

 

Written by Industrial Health, a specialized Workers’ Compensation therapy center which services Northern Virginia , Sterling , Loudoun , Fairfax , Dulles , Chantilly , Leesburg , Ashburn , Herndon , Reston , Centreville ; and offers programs including Physical Therapy , Functional Capacity Evaluations ( FCE ) , Work Hardening , Work Conditioning , Work Simulation , Impairment Rating , Permanent Partial Disability Rating , Injury Prevention Programs

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The Matheson FCE Model: FAQs

June 30, 2015

Do you have questions about our FCEs?  Click here to view the FAQs about the Matheson FCE Model, the same model used at Industrial Health!

 

Written by Industrial Health, a specialized Workers’ Compensation therapy center which services Northern Virginia , Sterling , Loudoun , Fairfax , Dulles , Chantilly , Leesburg , Ashburn , Herndon , Reston , Centreville ; and offers programs including Physical Therapy , Functional Capacity Evaluations ( FCE ) , Work Hardening , Work Conditioning , Work Simulation , Impairment Rating , Permanent Partial Disability Rating

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Three Types of Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCE’s)

May 28, 2015

There are three types of Functional Capacity Evaluations. These three types are: BaselineJob-Specific, and Medical Legal. Here at Industrial Rehab. we offer all three! To read more about the three different types of Functional Capacity Evaluations, click here.

 

Written by Industrial Health, a specialized Workers’ Compensation therapy center which services Northern Virginia , Sterling , Loudoun , Fairfax , Dulles , Chantilly , Leesburg , Ashburn , Herndon , Reston , Centreville ; and offers programs including Physical Therapy , Functional Capacity Evaluations ( FCE ) , Work Hardening , Work Conditioning , Work Simulation , Impairment Rating , Permanent Partial Disability Rating

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The 9 Key Steps to a Defendable Post-Offer: Step 9

April 15, 2015

This is the final step in The 9 Key Steps to a Defendable Post-Offer Blog Series:

Stay in Compliance with the Law

We began this nine part blog series by saying that the cornerstone of an informed hiring program is to ensure that a qualified individual’s physical and cognitive abilities match the demands of the job. We went on to indicate that jobs with high levels of physical exertion, gross whole-body movement, or jobs with a history of injuries were ideally suited for Post-Offer, Pre-Placement Testing (PPT).

We end this series of posts with this discussion: the challenge for the health care or vocational professional involved in post-offer testing is to stay current with the intention of the law and, more importantly, with recent federal court decisions regarding enforcement of the law.

Americans with Disabilities Act ADA logoThe reader may wonder why one would suggest a preference for being current with federal court cases rather than the actual code of the law. The reasoning is simple: the actual law is not dynamic. The law was modified in 2008 and will probably not change for another decade or so. Once a practitioner has invested time and study in becoming familiar with the law, energy and interest should then be turned to the constant interplay of everyday medical and vocational practice as new opportunities for enforcement of the law are created.

The process of staying current with new interpretation and enforcement of the law can be done in a variety of ways. Here are three suggestions:

Participate in a Matheson webinar on the first Thursday of each month. Send an email toinfo@roymatheson.com and request that you be added to the list of people to be notified of the next upcoming webinar. An email reminder is usually sent at the beginning of the week of the webinar.

Visit the “Newsroom” on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website at www.eeoc.gov, click on About EEOC and the Newsroom. News about EEOC settlements or pending litigations can be found on that page.

And, as you have already done, stay tuned to developing issues by following our blog at http://blog.roymatheson.com/

Another step one can take to remain current with the law is to maintain contact with your regional ADA National Leadership Network center. Divided into 10 regions, the function of the Network is to foster adoption of ADA-friendly practices by providing resources to individuals and employers. Among those resources are speakers expert in the various titles of the law. Refer to this map to identify your region:

Regional ADA National Leadership Network center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Region I (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont)

New England ADA Center
Institute for Human Centered Design
200 Portland Street
Boston, MA  02114
617-695-0085 voice/tty
adainfo@newenglandada.org
www.newenglandada.org

Region II (New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands)
Northeast ADA Center
203 Dolgen Hall
Ithaca, NY. 14853
607-255-6686
northeastada@cornell.edu
www.northeastada.org

Region III (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia)
Mid-Atlantic ADA Center
401 North Washington Street, Suite 450
Rockville, MD 20805
301-217-0124
adainfo@transcen.org
www.adainfo.org

Region IV (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee)
Southeast ADA Center
1419 Mayson Street
Atlanta, GA 30324
404-541-9001
adasoutheast@law.syr.edu
www.adasoutheast.org

Region V (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin)
Great Lakes ADA Center
University of Illinois at Chicago
Institute on Disability & Human Development (MC 728)
1640 West Roosevelt Road, Room 405
Chicago, IL. 60608
(312) 413-1407 V/TTY
info@adagreatlakes.org
www.adagreatlakes.org

Region VI (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas)
Southwest ADA Center
at ILRU, a program of TIRR Memorial Hermann
Houston, Texas 77019
713.520.0232
swdbtac@ilru.org
www.swdbtac.org

Region VII (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska)
Great Plains ADA Center
100 Corporate Lake Drive
Columbia, MO 65203
573-882-3600 (V/TTY)
adainfo@missouri.edu
http://www.gpadacenter.org/

Region VIII (Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming)
Rocky Mountain ADA Center
3630 Sinton Road, Suite 103
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
719/444-0268
adainfo@adainformation.org
www.adainformation.org

Region VIIII (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Basin)
Pacific ADA Center
555 12th Street, Suite 1030
Oakland, CA 94607
510-285-5600 (V/TTY)
adatech@adapacific.org
www.adapacific.org

Region X (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington)
Northwest ADA Center
Center for Continuing Education in Rehabilitation
University of Washington
6912 220th St SW #105
Mountlake Terrace, WA. 98043
425-248-2480
nwadactr@uw.edu
http://www.nwadacenter.org

And, as always, keep in touch with the Matheson team by contacting us at info@roymatheson.com

Learn how to perform Defendable Post-Offer Test:

Register for our Post-Offer, Pre-Placement Testing course

checked checkbox Understand the Concept of Agency Relationship

Stay in touch with us on:

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Written by Industrial Health, a specialized Workers’ Compensation therapy center which services Northern Virginia , Sterling , Loudoun , Fairfax , Dulles , Chantilly , Leesburg , Ashburn , Herndon , Reston , Centreville ; and offers programs including Physical Therapy , Functional Capacity Evaluations ( FCE ) , Work Hardening , Work Conditioning , Work Simulation , Impairment Rating , Permanent Partial Disability Rating – See more at: http://www.industrialhealth.com/blog/#sthash.pOXSYDGA.dpuf

 

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Amended ADA Smart: The “one person, one job” concept

April 7, 2015

Matheson Philosophy on Workplace Safety and Work Injury Evaluation

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Amended ADA Smart: The “one person, one job” concept

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Responding to a request for reasonable accommodation flows more smoothly when you keep in mind the concept of “one person, one job.” Thoughts about what other workers will want or how to come up with a unique solution to a complicated request take a back seat to a focus on the person and the job he currently holds.

One Person, One Job

Here is the law supporting the request and a process for responding with the least amount of stress:

The Law

Title 42 – The Public Health and Welfare, Chapter 126 Equal Opportunity for Individual with Disabilities, Subchapter I (Employment) Section 12111. Definitions:

(8) Qualified individual

The term “qualified individual” means an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires. For the purposes of this subchapter, consideration shall be given to the employer’s judgment as to what functions of a job are essential, and if an employer has prepared a written description before advertising or interviewing applicants for the job, this description shall be considered evidence of the essential functions of the job.

(9) Reasonable accommodation

The term “reasonable accommodation” may include

(A) making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities; and

(B) job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies, the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

The Concept

The concept of “one person, one job” is very straight forward.

First, focus your attention on the worker and his current job. Don’t get ahead of yourself by thinking of alternative jobs. The least expensive and least disruptive accommodation will be found in the current job.

Second, focus deeply on the nature of the request. Have the worker (not the supervisor) fill out the “Request for Reasonable Accommodation” form from the Matheson SEED package. Review the information on the form to see if the worker has identified a solution that fits the company’s resources. If the worker has not been specific, ask questions. Be sure you are clear about the purpose for the accommodation.

If the initial conversation does not identify a solution, involve the worker’s direct supervisor. Do not discuss the disability-related issue prompting the request. In a calm, solution-oriented, three person meeting, guide the worker and the supervisor as they explore potential solutions. At first, do not reject solutions based on cost or inconvenience. Focus on creating a space for each to express ideas. If anger or resistance is present, your job will be harder. Consider the effect of anger on finding a positive solution. You may have to postpone the conversation until the underlying issue is diluted.

If a three-person meeting does not identify a solution begin looking at other available resources. Visit www.askjan.org, contact a local occupational or physical therapist skilled in accommodation, and always keep the worker aware of your efforts.

If your search for an accommodation to the current job is not evident, keep in mind that you do not need to change productivity standards to achieve accommodation.

The value of the “one person, one job” concept becomes evident when the qualified individual is not able to perform the essential functions of his job with accommodation. At this point you are moving away from “one job” to a consideration of another job. It is important at this point to clearly document the fact that the individual is not able to safely or effectively perform the essential functions of the job for which he was qualified. Be sure the person realizes that he has reached this point in the employment cycle. Be clear that consideration of another job means that employment in his previous capacity is coming to an end.

Finally, when the justification behind transferring out of the previous job is documented, begin the process of searching for an available alternative for which the person is qualified.

Roy Matheson Matheson SEED

  Increase Your ADAAA Compliance with
Our Matheson SEED Solutions Package!

The Matheson System for Equitable Employment Determination (SEED) helps disability managers, absence managers, and work evaluation service providers build a tailored “Plan to Not Discriminate” (PND).  A PND reflects your desire to comply with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) by making equitable employment decisions through hiring, retention, and reasonable accommodation best practices.

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Matheson System for Equitable Employment Determination

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Written by Industrial Health, a specialized Workers’ Compensation therapy center which services Northern Virginia , Sterling , Loudoun , Fairfax , Dulles , Chantilly , Leesburg , Ashburn , Herndon , Reston , Centreville ; and offers programs including Physical Therapy , Functional Capacity Evaluations ( FCE ) , Work Hardening , Work Conditioning , Work Simulation , Impairment Rating , Permanent Partial Disability Rating – See more at: http://www.industrialhealth.com/blog/#sthash.pOXSYDGA.dpuf
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