Misconceptions Surrounding Work-Related Injuries and Physical Therapy - IMPACT Physical Therapy

Misconceptions Surrounding Work-Related Injuries and Physical Therapy

Bob Griffin

PT, DPT, SCS, Astym Cert.

  Tue, Dec 31, 2019

You just got hurt at work.  Your co-workers, family, and friends start telling you horror stories about themselves or someone they know and how that person “never was the same again,” were pushed back to work too early, hurt themselves worse in therapy, or their therapist was only working for their company and didn’t have your best interest in mind.  Take a breath, maybe two.  Sustaining a work-related injury does not have to as stressful or complicated as it seems.  Let’s take a minute to walk through some common misconceptions when sustaining a work-related injury, specifically when it comes to physical or occupational therapy.

Physical Therapist are Working for the Company

After sustaining a work-related injury, you are going to work with multiple health care providers that may include doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and physical or occupational therapists.  Many injured workers have the misconception that all health care providers are “working for the company” and their only job is to get them back to work as fast as they can.  This is not the case.  Our primary role as health care providers is to you, the patient.  You are our primary focus. 

Everyone Receives the Same Treatment Plan

A common misconception with physical therapy is that every injury is treated the same. When coming to therapy for the first time we will evaluate your current limitations and design a treatment plan that will focus on reducing your pain, improving your range of motion and strength, and will work with you to achieve your personal goals.  Our treatment plan will be individualized for you and will include manual hands-on treatment, stretching and strengthening exercises, cardiovascular exercises, and a gradual progression to job simulation activities to ensure when you do return to work, you will be able to perform your job safely.

Job Simulation Activities Start Day One to Get Me Back to Work Sooner

You may be concerned when coming to therapy that the therapist is just going to have me lift, push, pull, and carry heavy objects to push me back to work.  This is yet another misconception.  We understand when you first come to therapy you are more than likely going to have pain and performing such tasks as lifting or carrying may cause you even more pain.  As you progress through your recovery from your injury or surgery, we will work with you to decrease your pain and increase your strength and range of motion. When appropriate your therapist will demonstrate proper lifting mechanics and have you practice your mechanics and only at the point where you are safe to attempt light lifting the therapist will incorporate job simulated tasks.  If you perform those tasks well in the upcoming weeks those tasks may be advanced, so you are safe and feel confident performing your job when you return to work.

Physical Therapy is Hard, and I am Going to Get Injured

We cannot say that there has NEVER been an injury sustained in a physical therapy clinic. Accidents can occur in the clinic just as they can at work or at home but sustaining an injury in physical therapy is extremely rare, specifically when a patient is under the care of experienced physical therapists, occupational therapists, or therapy assistants.  How do you get in the hands of an experienced therapist who will design your treatment specifically for you to ensure you do not sustain an injury in therapy or when you return to work?  The first step is for you to understand you have the right to choose where you would like to go for your physical or occupational therapy at all times. 

You Have to go to Physical Therapy Where They Tell You

You do not have to be pushed to a place you do not want to go to for your therapy just because someone is telling you to go a specific location.  In the state of Illinois, you have the choice to determine where you are receiving physical or occupational therapy services. Be an advocate for yourself and determine the best place and therapist for you.  Recommendations from friends and family can help you choose a specific clinic or specific therapist. If cannot get a recommendation or you prefer to do your own research, call some locations, check out some websites, and stop into some clinics. Take a tour of the facility and meet with your potential therapist and see if they are a good fit for your needs. While you are there, ask questions such as:

  • “What will my treatment entail?” 
  • “How long with my treatment be?”
  • “What is your experience treating my injury or experience treating someone with my occupation?” 

We at IMPACT Physical Therapy understand sustaining a work-related injury can be a life-altering event and choosing the correct physical therapist is an important decision in that process.  Take a tour and meet with any one of our experienced therapists who will be able to answer any questions you may have. Find a location that is close to you and make an appointment to start your recovery today!