Functional Restoration After Work-Related Injury

Introduction

Workers who are injured on the job are often covered by workers’ compensation programs that are meant to assist them through medical rehabilitation and getting back to work. Unfortunately, utilization review processes and complicated treatment rules mean few doctors participate in workers’ comp programs and workers often face treatment delays and prolonged recovery times.

Thankfully, in states like California, alternative treatments are catching on, and becoming more widely adopted. Treatments like Functional Restoration Programs provide workers additional support when traditional treatments like physical therapy are not available or have not resolved an ongoing disability or chronic pain.

What Is Workers’ Comp?

Workers compensation is a form of insurance that businesses obtain for employees in the event that one is injured on the job. If a worker is injured they can receive medical care and, in some cases, financial compensation for ongoing disabilities that are the result of a workplace incident.

While plans differ greatly, most workers comp programs function similar to disability insurance, health insurance, and life insurance. Like these insurance programs workers comp has a lot of complexity and fragmentation which can cause confusion and frustration for those seeking medical help. If you are seeking help navigating the workers’ comp program in your state, we’ve listed some resources at the bottom of this page.

Treatment After A Work Injury

When injured on the job, employees must follow the rules of their workers’ comp program when seeking treatment. Businesses typically have a designated occupational health clinic where, depending on the state, the injured worker may be required to seek treatment for a period of time following the injury. The goal of an occupational health clinic is to rehabilitate a worker quickly so they can return to their job in limited or full capacity. For treatment that extends beyond the designated period, an injured worker is free to choose their own doctor from a limited network of approved health care providers.

What Is Functional Restoration?

Patients who are still struggling to recover from their injuries or get back to work after going through traditional treatments (physical therapy, surgery, etc.) should consider alternatives such as the Functional Restoration Program provided by the Bay Area Pain & Wellness Center (BAPWC).

Functional restoration is a blend of education, psychotherapy, and physical reconditioning through a compliment of mind/body techniques and exercise that facilitate recovery from chronic pain and injury. The process helps the individual learn numerous tools and techniques to overcome barriers to recovery and restore meaningful life activities.

Extended Effects Of Work Injuries

Besides their physical injuries, workers often deal with issues like economic distress, job loss, family breakdown, legal entanglements, and more. Secondary conditions such as chronic pain and mental health conditions are common after workplace injuries, especially if a worker has not returned to work after six months.

When taken out of work completely by their physician, workers typically receive disability benefits that amount to less than their full salary for a very limited period of time. Injured workers often get sent back to modified duty after they get hurt, but the employer is often unable to accommodate for medical restrictions. For example, a construction company may not have any light duty work to offer.

How Does FRP Work?

An individualized care plan provides each patient with a “tool kit” of methods to manage chronic pain and return to a productive lifestyle. An integrated, interdisciplinary treatment model has been shown to be superior to physical therapy and psychotherapy provided separately in terms of functional and emotional gains.

The functional restoration program meets five days a week for group-oriented education and individualized exercise. A typical day involves participation in six one-hour activities including physical conditioning, psycho-educational groups, art therapy, vocational counseling, medical follow up, and education in nutrition and wellness.

"Since 2001, our program has helped improve the quality of life for our graduates, with many returning to normal activities of living, including both family responsibilities and employment.” - Dr. Peter Abaci, BAPWC

There are approximately 180 hours of contact time in a six-week program. Abbreviated programs may be offered based on individual needs. Progress and participation are reevaluated weekly at interdisciplinary team conferences. For individuals who live out of the area, lodging or transportation assistance may be available.

The goals of FRP include:

  • Providing each patient with a range of tools that can help them confidently and more effectively manage pain
  • Helping return the patient to their highest functional level and to meaningful activities through Increased fitness and strength
  • Increasing a patient’s sense of emotional well-being and independence
  • Establishing achievable goals within the workplace that enable injured workers to return to productive employment when appropriate

Summary

Workers who are injured on the job are often covered by workers’ compensation programs that are meant to assist them through medical rehabilitation and getting back to work. Unfortunately, utilization review processes and complicated treatment rules mean few doctors participate in workers’ comp programs and workers often face treatment delays and prolonged recovery times.

Thankfully, in states like California, alternative treatments are catching on, and becoming more widely adopted. Treatments like Functional Restoration Programs provide workers additional support when traditional treatments like physical therapy are not available or have not resolved an ongoing disability or chronic pain.

Additional Resources

List of resoruces here

Seeking Functional Restoration Treatment?

If you are in the Bay area and are looking for FRT program, reach out to the Bay Area Pain & Wellness Center today!

Click to learn More or call 408.364.6799 today.

Workers' Comp Laws By State

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Testimonials:

“This book is a powerful tool for patients who don’t understand why the pain management system needs changes....Dr. Abaci lays out the compelling reasons for this and backs [them] up with [his] personal experiences as a pain-management provider and as someone who has faced living with chronic pain himself.”

— Barby Ingle, president, Power of Pain Foundation

"Conquer Your Chronic Pain is a must-read for anyone living with pain. Following Dr. Abaci’s simple steps, you will learn important tools to not only manage (and heal) pain, but also reclaim happiness, purpose and overall wellness in life.”

— Paul Gileno, founder & president, U.S. Pain Foundation

 

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