Work Injury Rehabilitation And Treatment
Injuries at work happen every day. Each year in BC, there are more than 100,000 claims made to WorkSafeBC, or WSBC, for work-related injuries. Of these, almost half lead to a worker needing to take time off from work due to their injury. In total, more than 3,000,000 work days are lost each year due to injury.
If an injury occurs while you are working, it is important to get help as soon as you can. This will help ensure that your injury does not get worse and you receive the best treatment. Depending on your type of injury, there are different options available for treating it.
Treating Common Work Injuries
Your community rehab clinic will typically treat a variety of work related injuries, such as:
- Ankle sprains
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Joint sprains, strains
- Ligament tears
- Lower back sprains
- Neck strains
- Repetitive use injuries
- Shoudler or rotator cuff injury
Some of the more complex cases may need surgical intervention. With these injuries, your physiotherapist will usually be involved in your post surgical care and recovery.
Dealing with a work related injury can take quite an emotional toll on top of the physical trauma, especially if it results in time loss at work. It often takes a team approach to best address your injury.
Steps To Take If You Have Been Injured At Work
As soon as your injury happens, let your supervisor and employer know about the accident. There may be incident report forms for you to fill out. You may be assessed by an occupational health nurse if there is one available at your workplace.
Otherwise, perform a self evaluation to see if you feel safe and comfortable continuing to work for the rest of your day.
Visit your health care provider
Schedule an appointment with your family physician, ideally by the next day. Also, schedule an appointment with your physiotherapist or chiropractor to help with your recovery within 3 days of your accident.
You will have likely received a WSBC claim number by that time so be sure to bring that information along with you on your first appointment.
Finding Physiotherapy Or Chiropractic Care
Not all community rehab clinics are able to treat patients injured at work. When you make your appointment, check to see if the clinic is able to process your claim with WorkSafeBC. If they are, this will make the handling of your claim much smoother.
Reasons to get treated even if you can still work
Even if your injury is mild to moderate and / or you are able to continue working, it may still be a good idea to get treated. Though your symptoms may be mild at first, your injury could worsen over time. Left untreated, it could also potentially increase your likelihood of future injury.
Therefore, it is always recommended to get an assessment with your physiotherapist or chiropractor. They can help you better understand the full extent of your injury. Even if you are able to keep working, you can still receive treatment to help with your recovery.
Your First Visit
On your first visit, your chiropractor or physiotherapist will first ask you questions about your accident, your job details and where you are having trouble.
They will then complete a detailed physical assessment. Your assessment may include checking to see how well your different body parts are moving as well as the condition of your different nerves. They may check your muscles and perform a variety of orthopedic tests to see how well you are able to function.
Once done, they will go over their findings with you and give you their recommendations. During your review, they may discuss your job demands. They will also explain how your injury may affect your ability to perform your job duties and help you decide if and when you may be ready to return to work.
What your injury recovery looks like
Your therapist will develop a care plan that best fits your needs and helps you recover as quickly and efficiently as you can. To help you get better and bridge the gaps in your job demands, your plan may include treatments such as:
- Cardiovascular training
- Ergonomic recommendations
- Functional movements
- IMS and dry needling
- In clinic rehab exercises
- Joint and spinal adjustments
- Laser therapy
- Manual therapy
- Prescribed home stretching, strengthening exercises
- Proprioceptive retraining
- Use of heat packs
Deciding On When You Can Return To Work
When your rehab has progressed to the point where your physiotherapist or chiropractor feels that it is safe for you to go back to work, a Gradual Return To Work (GRTW) plan will be discussed and reviewed with you. Your return will be coordinated along with your family physician, employer and WorkSafeBC.
Pain while working
During your gradual return to work period, you will continue to see your physiotherapist or chiropractor. They can help you manage any symptom flares you may come across as you return.
Sometimes, updates to your gradual return to work plan may be needed. These changes will be communicated to those involved in your recovery.
A team approach
Your recovery from your work-related injury involves an integrated team approach. The main goal is to get you feeling better, back to work and be able to perform your regular work duties.
Injured At Work And Need Help?
If you have been injured at work, speak with your physio or chiro. They can help you with your recovery and come up with a plan to help you get back to work. They can give you tips and advice on how to prevent re-injuring yourself and future injuries.
Q: What happens if I get hurt at work in BC?
A: If you are injured at work, report your injury to your employer who will then submit a report to WSBC. Schedule a visit with your health care provider who will also report to WSBC. You should also contact WSBC at 1-888-967-5377 to let them know. Once WSBC has received all the reports, they will determine if you will be eligible for coverage. Decisions are usually available within 10 days.
Q: Is there a difference between seeing my physiotherapist or my chiropractor for your work injury?
A: Both health care providers can help you with your work injury recovery. If you start an injury treatment claim with your physiotherapist, you should also see your family doctor who will help monitor your injury and claim. If your chiropractor is treating you for your injury, you do not need to see your family doctor as well.
Q: Can I see both my chiropractor and physiotherapist for my work injury?
A: WSBC will usually only provide coverage for one health care provider to help manage and treat your work-related injury. Occasionally, WSBC will provide coverage for both provider types, though this would first need to be approved with WSBC.