Workplace Injury and the Sports Physiotherapy Model


Workplace Injury and the Sports Physiotherapy Model

Over 15 years ago Jubilee Sports Physiotherapy became involved in Workplace injury management and rehabilitation.

Some of Australia’s largest companies were asking the question:

“Why do workplace injuries take longer to get better than sports injuries?”

What we noted was:

  • The injury patterns and presentations seen in injured workers were very similar to those seen in sports and exercise.  Such injuries included back, neck and spinal pain, shoulder, knee and ankle injuries and injuries of overuse or poor posture.

So, why did workplace injuries take longer to get better? And why do injured workers take longer to get back to pre-injury duties?

What we noted was:

  • There was a stigma attached to reporting workplace injury.  “I don’t want a black mark on my record” or “I don’t want to go on compo”.
  • As a result injuries were not managed immediately and so became worse and chronic and led to secondary injuries.
  • Often there was a lack of expert management of the injury, either by less skilled practitioners or those with little knowledge of workplace injury.  A sub-optimal rehabilitation plan existed.
  • Injured workers were too often incorrectly certified totally unfit for work.  Rehabilitation became passive, there was a financial burden imposed on the worker because they were losing wages and their “industrial fitness” was lost meaning they had to ease their way back into work when they returned and were more likely to suffer a recurrence of the injury or injure another de-trained part of the body.

Jubilee Sports Physiotherapy Workplace Injury Management and Rehabilitation Program

Based on these findings we developed the Jubilee Sports Physiotherapy Workplace Injury Management and Rehabilitation Program. The philosophy of this program was to encourage injured workers to:

  • Report and treat injuries immediately
  • Provide the latest in evidenced based and outcome focused treatment by skilled and experienced physiotherapists
  • Encourage self management
  • Provided the injured worker with suitable duties guidelines to allow them to remain at work, promote active rehabilitation and maintain work fitness.

We have implemented this program in a number of Australia’s largest companies including Xstrata Coal, AMCOR, Centennial Coal, Walters Mining, SSS Mining Services and Lucas Mining.

“Does the program work?”

When we first commenced our workplace injury management and rehabilitation program with one of our clients they were one of the worst performing members of their group when it came to Lost Time Injuries (LTI’s).  Over the course of 2 years we helped them reduce their Workers Compensation premium by 5%, by instituting our program and reducing LTI’s.  This equated to a saving in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Just recently, our largest client Xstrata Coal at Tahmoor was awarded the Directors prize for health and safety.  We provide onsite injury management services and rehabilitation twice a week at the Tahmoor colliery and this award was provided in recognition of the most improved coal mine over the previous 2 years with respect to LTI’s and health and safety.

Next Section: Occupational Physiotherapy Services

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