When an injured worker has met their established short/long term goals during physical therapy but is still unable to return to work, they may benefit from a Work Hardening Program. This higher-level of therapeutic intervention focuses on the remaining functional deficits he or she may have due to their injury, specifically designed with the primary goal of returning to work. The Work Hardening is a full-body intensive program focusing on work-simulated activities to get injured workers back to work and is designed specifically to the needs of the injured worker. This program addresses every variable related to the injury, including musculoskeletal exercises, functional activities, and worker performance. The Work Hardening Program utilizes real or simulated work activities to restore physical, behavioral, and vocational functions. A typical work hardening program is 2-4 hours a day, 3-5 days per week. The objective is to have the injured worker simulate typical work tasks for up to 50% of their normal work schedule.
Work hardening is an integral part of work-injury rehabilitation and is a great way to ensure that you can return to work safely, with a reduced risk of re-injury. Physical therapists do a great deal to make sure that each person is a valuable participant in the recovery process and is educated each step of the way.
Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCE’s).
An FCE is a 2-4 hour test that would be given after a work hardening program has been completed, to give you and your employer an analytical report on your progress within recovery, and the likelihood of your ability to return with or without restriction. This information helps employers bring people back to work with positions suitable to their ability levels.