Outcomes of an interdisciplinary work rehabilitation program


Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Aurora BayCare Medical Center, Aurora Research Institute, Neurosurgery, BayCare Clinic


BACKGROUND: Work rehabilitation programs were developed to help workers with an injury return to work (RTW). While studies have examined intervention characteristics, prognostic factors, and disability level, there is little or no research examining interdisciplinary interventions, lifting capacity/strength and the level of a patient's RTW status (e.g., not working, new job, or ongoing restrictions) at the time of discharge.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate outcomes (RTW status and lifting capacity/strength changes) of an interdisciplinary work rehabilitation program and examine whether time off work prior to the program and type of injury were related to RTW status and strength changes.

METHODS: A retrospective database analysis was conducted with a sample of 495 participants (Mage = 44.44 years, SD = 10.13) of which 375 (76%) were male. Participants were workers with injuries who participated in an interdisciplinary work rehabilitation program from 2006 to 2010.

RESULTS: A significantly higher number of participants were working at the end of the program than at the beginning (83.9% vs. 31.6%, p < 0.0001). Mean strength was higher at the time of discharge compared to at admission (p < 0.0001). The participants that did not RTW had had significantly more days off work prior to the program (U = 11757, z = -3.152, p = 0.002). The type of injury was not related to strength at the time of discharge.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest the interdisciplinary program is associated with positive outcomes and early intervention may be an important factor when treating patients with work-related injuries.

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