Comprehensively treating patients in need of industrial rehabilitation needs the backbone of work hardening and work conditioning. Overall, the end goal is to help the patient transition back into a worker role. Specifically, work hardening provides a transition between a worker’s short-term care and their return to work. This is accomplished by addressing issues of productivity, safety, physical tolerance along with work behaviors. In order to reinstate a worker’s functionality back into their work atmosphere, job simulation is utilized in work conditioning. With the completion of work conditioning a patient has regained their strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness leading to their instantaneous return to work.

Work hardening is classified as an interdisciplinary, personalized, job explicit program of activity. The exercises used in the program are gradually progressed based upon the patient’s measured tolerances. To improve the biochemical, neuromuscular, cardiovascular and psychosocial functioning of the patient, a very specific design is created per individual. Components of the work hardening program are:

  1. Developing strength and endurance of the patient in compliance with the goal to return to work.
    • Equipment and methods quantify the individual patient’s strength and conditioning
      •  Ergometers
      • Dynamometers
      • Treadmills
      • Walking tolerance
      • Gym exercises
      • Circuit training
  2. Simulation of the critical work demands, the tasks along with the environment of the patient’s occupation. Work specific.
    • Progressive increase in frequency
    • Progressive increase in load
    • Progressive increase in duration
  3. Educating the patient’s body on their stresses related to body mechanics, work pacing, safety and, most importantly, injury prevention.
    • Promote the patient’s “as a worker” responsibility
    • Promote patient’s self-management
    • Direct therapist and patient/worker interaction
  4. Assess the patient’s work environment for potential modifications.
    • Need for better work-related equipment
    • Adaptation modifications
    • Additional resources
  5. Create a written, patient specific plan identifying observable and measurable goals.
    • Methodology
    • Time-frame
    • Evaluations
  6. Assemble a safe work environment and atmosphere that is appropriate to the patient’s goals and the vocation.
    • A separate work hardening area per patient
    • At least 100 square feet per patient
    • Optimize work space
  7. An assurance system to provide an internal review of the speciality program.
  8. All-inclusive reporting system.
    • Documentation of the initial plan
    • Meeting of the patient with the essential team members
    • Discharge summary in correspondence with the Department of Labor and Industries Work Hardening Data Outcome Sheet
    • Patient’s daily attendance including the number of days and hours on the program
  9. End with an evaluation of the post-program work behaviors and application of any needed modifications.

Contact Classic Rehabilitation today for your questions and concerns in regards to work hardening and work conditioning. We are conveniently located in Arlington, Bedford and Grand Prairie, with fully equipped clinics providing full service physical therapy physicality with aquatics therapy and more.