Work Hardening Program
Advantage Injury Management Services’ Exercise Physiologists are able to provide Work Hardening Programs to injured workers to assist them in their return to work. Work Hardening Programs involve an exercise program developed and monitored by an accredited Exercise Physiologist, that focuses on specific goals targeted at returning the injured worker back to work. Exercise Physiologists are trained to provide targeted exercises to clients with various injuries and medical conditions.
Goals of a Work Hardening Program
The goals of the Work Hardening Program are specific to the injury being treated and may include one of more of the following: strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, mood, confidence and core strength. Often the injured worker requires a holistic approach due to extended periods of being off work and therefore a generalised lack of condition ensues. Exercise Physiologists are trained to provide education on injuries, medical conditions and safe exercise techniques. It is very important that clients perform all exercises correctly to avoid sustaining or aggravating their injury. Therefore, it is also important that the exercise program is monitored regularly to provide feedback on technique and ensure the exercises are continually progressed and the client achieves the desired results.
What is involved in a Work Hardening Program
- An initial assessment is completed in the client’s home or a local gym. This includes an assessment of current work tasks and expected work tasks to return to normal pre-injury duties, injury details and treatment conducted to date, reported pain location and intensity, range of motion of affected area, activity tolerances and lifting capacity.
- Following an assessment, a specific exercise program is prescribed to assist the client to achieve the return to work goals. A Work Hardening Program may involve an exercise program to be completed in the home, gym or pool setting, or any combination of these. Each exercise will be demonstrated and the expected frequency of attendance for the duration of the program will be discussed with the injured worker.
- Often weekly reviews are recommended for at least one month to ensure that the client adheres to the exercise program and performs the correct technique during all exercises. Should further rehabilitation be required then it may be recommended to continue the exercise program with fortnightly monitoring rather than weekly to ensure the client stays on track and continues to progress as desired.
- The gym or pool membership fees are usually covered by the insurance company. Advantage Injury Management Services will facilitate this for the client. The client may choose a gym or pool which is most convenient to their home or workplace.
What to wear to a Work Hardening Program
Clients need to wear appropriate clothing to exercise in, including closed in shoes in the gym. Clients should also bring a towel and drink bottle if exercising in a gym or pool setting. Clients should wear comfortable clothing in the pool and it is not uncommon to wear shorts and shirts for men and women if this is comfortable.
When to use a Work Hardening Program
- A Work Hardening Program is recommended for clients who are injured or returning to work after an extended period of not working.
- Clients with very manual jobs such as construction workers, factory workers and labourers would probably benefit the most, however, any injured worker would benefit from a work hardening program when recovering from an injury.
- A treating medical practitioner may also recommend an injured worker participate in a Work Hardening Program to enable them to return to their pre-injury role in a timely manner.
- A client may be referred if their treatment has reached a plateau and more functional or higher intensity exercises are needed to assist in their return to work.
- If a client is struggling to upgrade their suitable duties plan and return to their pre-injury role.
Benefits of a Work Hardening Program
There are a wide range of benefits from using accredited Exercise Physiologists at Advantage Injury Management Services to facilitate a Work Hardening Program. They include:
- Our Exercise Physiologists are accredited and trained to provide specific exercise programs developed at achieving return to work gaols.
- Exercise programs are conducted at a location convenient to the client, whether it is in their home, or at a local gym or pool.
- We work with the client and other allied health professionals to provide a goal oriented exercise program that aims to specifically achieve return to work outcomes.