Occupational Therapy: Going Back to Work After an Injury

Do you worry that you will not be able to go back to work?

Following an injury, and a prolonged leave from work, your body might show a decrease in functional abilities. This can prevent you from performing certain tasks at work. Upon returning to work, it is normal to fear that you will reinjure yourself.

Work reintegration sessions with an occupational therapist can help you improve your ability to work, for example, by increasing your tolerance, your handling capacity, or your ability to work with your arms stretched out. Occupational therapy can teach you which posture will help you avoid injury at work. You will then be able to test your capabilities, resume activities at home that you might have stopped and improve your functional abilities.
 
It is untrue that pain must entirely be gone before you can resume your work and activities. In fact, pain can persist even if the physical injury has healed. Medical literature underscores the importance of staying active despite the presence of pain. Managing your activities, and by extension the pain, is an essential part of the rehabilitation process.
 
Here are some tips:

• Divide your tasks into steps. Often take breaks. 

• Start with smaller activities to avoid disappointment. For instance, walk for 10 minutes instead of a full hour as you once did.

• Keep yourself busy! Your brain will focus on pleasurable activities instead of pain.

• Don’t worry if you notice an increase in pain. This does not necessarily mean that your condition is worsening.

• Plan your activities for the day in the morning or the night before. When we plan a task ahead of time, we have a better chance of accomplishing it.

• Are you worried about your physical condition and your test results? Ask your practitioner for more information; uncertainty can lead to misinterpretation.
 
Occupational therapy will help you plan your return to work.

Magalie Rinfret, occupational therapist
VP, Development and Customer Service

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