Common Therapy Practices for Work Related Injuries
Work related injuries are far too common for employees in physically-demanding jobs, and they can often be devastating. In the aftermath of an injury, employees will need to navigate the options for short or long-term therapy. Some injuries may require more than one type of therapy or require mental health specialists to help alleviate any complex emotional responses that have developed alongside the physical injury. Below are a few of the most common types of therapy to help alleviate both physical and emotional injuries.
1. Physical Therapy
This broad rehabilitation category usually involves a series of exercises designed to gradually strengthen and restore function to the muscles affected by the injury. The exercises may require the use of a rehabilitation gym equipped with small weights, exercise balls, cushions, bars, and balance equipment. Rehabilitation physical therapists may use other specific therapeutic practices to promote healing, including ultrasound therapy (to reduce inflammation), electrostimulation (for analgesia, antiedema, and improving muscle strength), and thermotherapy (heat therapy).
2. Occupational Therapy
This kind of therapy is especially helpful for employees recovering from work-related injuries who need to return to their work activities as soon as possible for financial reasons. Rather than only focusing on restoring function to the injured area, occupational therapists use personalized tasks associated with everyday activities to help patients regain, recover, and maintain the skills they need to carry out their jobs effectively.
3. Neuropsychological Therapy
In some cases, a work-related accident can cause a traumatic brain injury. When this happens, patients need therapists that will regularly assess cognitive function. Neuropsychological therapy can involve completing psychometric assessments to measure neurological health and mental health.
Some work-related injuries will inhibit patients’ ability to complete weight-bearing exercises. These patients often benefit from hydrotherapy, which removes gravitational force and allows the patient to complete strengthening exercises in a pool where they are “weightless.” Regular swimming also improves cardiovascular health, which can be helpful for patients who want to maintain overall fitness, but whose injuries prevent them from completing other aerobic activities (running or biking, for example).
5. Emotional Services
Work-related accidents and injuries often cause a range of mental and emotional problems that can be easily overlooked. This is especially true for patients who had relied on their employment for financial, medical, or immigrant status support. When these patients suffer from injuries at work, they can become concerned about debt, housing, family support, job security, and even deportation. These underlying concerns often inhibit the healing process for physical injury and can lead to the development of depression and/or anxiety. If these symptoms develop, immediate treatment is crucial. Patients who receive psychological treatment within the first six months of treatment are more likely to make a complete recovery–physically and mentally.
For all of these services, patients should seek out well-trained medical personnel who are familiar with work-related accident protocol and who have sufficient knowledge of the laws around treatment for work-related injuries. Any patients who are additionally concerned about their immigrant status interfering with their rehabilitative care should seek out culturally-sensitive environments where there are bilingual providers on staff.
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