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Return to work planning

Return to work planning is an important step towards independence and recovery for those who have been injured in a motor vehicle or work related incident. Occupational therapists play a vital role in assisting those who have been injured plan and execute a safe re-entry into the workforce. Generally, the process of occupational therapy intervention consists of the following steps

Assessment

Our occupational therapists will first start with an assessment of the individual’s physical, cognitive and psychosocial strengths and limitations. The therapist may also communicate with the employer to obtain a job description and understanding of the individual’s job demands. These assessments help the Occupational therapist create a realistic understanding of what the return to work timeline may look, as well as assist with rehabilitation planning with the individual’s rehab team.

Goals

Our occupational therapists will work with the individual to create realistic and time sensitive goals related to returning to work and rehabilitation. Goals are generally re-evaluated every two - three months.

Worksite Evaluation

At some point during the recovery process, your occupational therapist may conduct a worksite visit to ensure that the individual’s workspace is conducive to performing their job demands. The occupational therapist may make recommendations, such as a sit to stand desk or modifications to the existing work space to ensure the individual is able to perform their job demands efficiently and safely.

Rehabilitation

Occupational therapists will engage with you and your rehabilitation team to ensure that your recovery program is conducive to the job demands you are trying to return to. This can include communicating with your physiotherapist, kinesiologist, family physician and others to ensure the individual’s specific situation is considered when providing rehabilitation services. Occupational therapists also provide physical, cognitive, and psychosocial rehabilitation to support the individual with returning to work.

Adaptations

Adaptations can occur at an environmental level, where occupational therapists can make ergonomic adjustments to workstations and recommend equipment to assist with improving ergonomics. Occupational therapists can also assist individuals with creating adaptive strategies to assist with compensating for physical, cognitive or psychosocial limitations to ensure success when returning to work. This can range from accommodations for extra breaks or the integration of symptom management strategies while the worker is completing their job demands.

Return to Work Planning

Our occupational therapists will work with the individual, their rehabilitation team, employer and case managers to assist with return-to-work planning in a timely, but safe manner. Often occupational therapists will work with the team to create a gradual return to work (GRTW) program.

Case management and monitoring

Once the individual is at work, our occupational therapists will continue to monitor the return-to-work plan, making any changes or recommendations as the individual progresses through their return-to-work plan.

Returning to work can be a daunting and difficult process after an injury. Having an occupational therapist on the team can help all parties create a better understanding of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses, and ensure a safe transition back to the workplace.


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