Getting back to work after pain or injury

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Are you off work or struggling to stay in work because of pain or injury?

One of our specialist areas at Evidence-Based Therapy Centre is dealing with pain or injuries related to the workplace or problems that cause someone to be off work. We are experts in helping our clients to make a safe and successful return to work at the earliest possible opportunity. We understand the importance of getting back to work after pain, injury or illness and the many issues that may be involved.

 

Barriers to returning to work

We recognise the value of assisting you to return to work as soon as possible. The published statistics in this area are frightening. If a person has been off work because of pain or injury for 6 months, there is only a 50% chance that they will return to work. This reduces to a 25% chance following a one-year absence and is further reduced to a 1% chance after a two-year absence. Therefore, if you have a workplace injury or have developed pain through your work role, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Treating the problem early always makes it quicker and easier to resolve.

There are a huge number of reasons why it becomes less likely that someone will return to their job after a lengthy time off. These reasons are psychological and social in nature, as well as physical factors. For example a person with severe back pain, who has been off work for months, may begin to feel depressed and also begins to adapt to this new life away from work. General stamina, strength and conditioning reduce and often, additional roles such as childcare are taken on. As the person becomes more and more habituated to this new life out of the workplace, it becomes more and more difficult to return. Therefore in addition to the original physical barrier to returning to work, there are now psycho-social barriers too. Added to this the fact that employers often don’t know how to support someone to get back into the workplace after an injury and it makes the situation potentially very complex.

 

What can we do to help you return to work?

At Evidence-Based Therapy Centre, you have access to the services of a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals who are trained to comprehensively assess and diagnose the problems and work-related factors that are affecting your ability to complete your job demands. This team comprises of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and psychology.

Physiotherapy

Chartered physiotherapists Eoin Ó Conaire and Catherine Browne are experts in providing work-related interventions. In addition to taking a history and carrying out a thorough physical assessment, they often use validated screening tools and questionnaires to identify the key factors contributing to the pain. For example, the Orebro Musculoskeletal questionnaire can predict with high accuracy those at risk of having extended periods off work due to an injury. This then allows the physiotherapist to identify and treat the relevant factors that are contributing to this risk. Another important screening tool for patients who have undergone a traumatic injury or event is the Impacts of Events questionnaire. This tool identifies those patients who will need psychological assessment and treatment to address psychological problems related to an injury before they have physiotherapy. It is well established in the research literature that physical interventions will not be effective until the psychological trauma has been addressed.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapist, Pauline Robinson, has extensive experience providing assistance with return to work (or return to study) after injury, illness or when living with a chronic condition. She considers the interplay between your abilities, the demands of your job and the environment in which you work, to gain a thorough understanding of the range of factors which may be impacting your ability to complete the specific demands of your job.

Types of occupational therapy services provided relating to return to work:

  • Job demands analysis (this is a detailed breakdown of the physical and cognitive components that are needed to successfully complete your job)
  • Identification of the physical, cognitive and/or psychosocial barriers that are contributing to the difficulty you are having in completing job demands
  • Design a treatment plan to address the ‘mismatch’ between your abilities and those required to successfully complete your job roles.
  • Liaise with your employer to discuss strategies or job accommodations that could be implemented to aid your success at work (Note: an employer will not be contacted without your prior consent and agreement to do so).
  • Development of a gradual return to work plan can be considered, if appropriate for your circumstances, particularly if you have been unable to work for a prolonged period of time.
  • Provide strategies on how certain job tasks can be adapted to make them easier for you to complete.
  • Simulate job demands in treatment sessions to enhance your work-related skills and increase your confidence in your own abilities.
  • Consider assistive technology options to compensate for permanent deficits
  • Assess the ergonomic set-up of your work environment and provide you with education/suggestions on how the environment or your own body positioning can be adapted to reduce strain and discomfort while you are at work.

Clinical Psychology

If there are significant psychological barriers such as low mood, anxiety or stress that are impacting upon your ability to return to work, then Clinical Psychologists Dr. Róisín Joyce and Dr. Sheila Callinan are experts in helping to overcome these difficulties.

Chronic pain

There is still hope for people who haven’t been able to access early treatment. If the pain or injury has been going on for longer than 3-6 months this is known as chronic pain. Chronic pain is explained here

Booking an appointment

If you would like to book an appointment with either physiotherapy, occupational therapy or clinical psychology then you can call Evidence-Based Therapy Centre today on 091 727777 or get in touch via the contact page. If you are off work due to pain, injury or illness but are not sure which of our services to book with then you should book an Occupational Therapy assessment as Pauline will carry out a comprehensive assessment of your needs.