Want to help injured workers get back on their feet and back on the job?
Industrial Rehabilitation —also known as Advanced Work Rehabilitation, involves helping employers fulfill their responsibility to injured workers by evaluating and training injured workers until they are able to return to work full time. Advanced Work Therapists must be experts in both job function testing and matching, as well as work hardening and conditioning. Their work may include evaluating a worker’s functional capacity, evaluating the physical tasks required to complete a specific job, and creating work simulation exercises. This field has been around since the 1970’s and has broadened to include onsite clinics in the industrial setting, as well contracted services in a local outpatient clinic. In this setting, therapists’ job-specific treatments help rehabilitate clients so they can return to the field.
Therapists who work in an industrial setting will need to become familiar with legal issues, insurance laws, and the specific needs of their unique patient population. Because this type of treatment is often paid for by Worker’s Compensation Insurance, Occupational Health Therapists must maintain a network of communication between the physician, employer, and insurer about each patient’s progress. More and more, forward thinking employers are investing in physical and occupational therapy services in order to prevent injuries before they happen. Advanced Work Therapists can influence the health of a whole company by increasing ergonomic awareness, injury prevention and general wellness.
Percentage of therapists employed in this setting
Advanced Work Rehabilitation can take place in various settings. Some therapists work in outpatient clinics that specialize in occupational health services. Other Industrial therapists contract directly with an employer to provide services onsite at a factory or workplace. For classification purposes, Advanced
Work Rehabilitation Therapists are considered outpatient therapists. Therapists who work with patients in this setting may include 33 percent of physical therapists, 22 percent of occupational therapists and 17 percent of speech language pathologists.
Benefits of Industrial Rehab Therapy
Advanced Work Rehabilitation professionals help workers recover from their injuries, but also teach them new techniques that can help workers stay safe on the job. Therapists choose this specialty for some of the following reasons:
- Job Satisfaction: Helping patients return to work and earn a living is very satisfying work. The goal of Advanced Work Rehabilitation is helping employees get back on the job. It can be rewarding for therapists to see their hard work pay off.
- Being out in the field. Therapists who work onsite enjoy a great deal of variety in their work settings. Each job assessment has unique challenges and problems to solve. This is a great job for someone who likes to get out of the office and be in the real world.
- The opportunity to educate. Therapists must help workers learn ergonomic techniques that can help them prevent future job-related injuries. This provides the chance to work closely with and teach patients.
- A good rate of pay. The average annual rate of pay for Outpatient physical therapists is $81,790, with occupational therapists earning $82,460, and speech language pathologists earning $80,920. Industrial settings may offer a chance to increase this rate by contacting therapy services directly with an employer. In general, Industrial Contracts pay well because hiring in-house rehabilitation specialists and investing in injury prevention saves companies money in the long run.
Challenges in practicing in an Advanced Work Setting:
If you’re interested in finding a position as a therapist in the industrial rehab setting, you will encounter some challenges that are unique to this setting:
- Employers who attempt to cut corners. Employers place a high value on the timeliness of patient rehabilitation, and hold both therapists and employees accountable for speedy improvement. With a goal of getting workers back on the job quickly, industrial rehab therapists must be efficient in their therapy treatments. Therapists may have to help injured workers stand up for their needs and present objective, reasonable expectations for recovery.
- Navigating Government and Worker’s Comp regulations. Understanding worker’s rights and government safety regulations are not normally part a of a therapist’s job description. However, Advanced Work Rehabilitation Therapists must become proficient with these rules and expectations and help both patients and employers navigate “the system” for the best possible outcomes.
- Extra Paperwork. In order to compensate for the sharp learning curve in billing Comp Health Insurances, outpatient practices often choose to specialize in providing occupational health services, or they may avoid the extra paperwork by outsourcing it to a back office billing provider.
- Unmotivated patients. An Industrial Therapist’s greatest challenge is motivating employees who have no desire to go back to work. Discerning between disability and disinterest requires creativity. Advanced Work Rehabilitation Therapists help patients recover confidence and motivation as well as physical strength.
For more information
If you’re interested in learning more about becoming an industrial rehab therapist, you can visit:
- APTA Orthopaedic Section[i]: Occupational Health Special Interest Group
- Advance Healthcare Network: Industrial Rehab Microsite
- AOTA – About Occupational Therapists: Work Rehabilitation
Did we miss anything? Have you worked in an Industrial Rehabilitation Setting? Please share the advantages and challenges of your profession in the comments below. We can all learn from your experiences.
If you’re looking for your next therapy position, contact PT Solutions
We’re a staffing company run by therapists for therapists. Because Advanced Work Rehabilitation is a specialty and are difficult to find, we often receive requests for therapists who want to work in this setting. If you’d like to gain experience in this setting, connect with one of the employment specialists at PT Solutions. We will work with you to find physical or occupational therapy or speech language pathology position throughout the United States. To learn more, contact us today!