Helping the Injured Worker Get Back to Work

Madhura Gurjar
Madhura Gurjar Physical Therapist at AHS

Accidents happen…even at work. Here are some of the steps we take to help get injured workers back to their jobs safely.

Individuals with work-related injuries that require physical therapy come from all types of professions. As such, the steps to get each patient back to work varies between individuals.

For many injured workers, regular one-on-one appointments using traditional therapy methods and a unique home exercise program, is effective in achieving recovery and returning to work pain-free.

Other patients, including individuals who have filed worker’s compensation claims, may be asked to participate in a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) during their recovery process. An FCE is a comprehensive, objective evaluation that measures a person’s strength, endurance, and physical demand work level.1 The data gathered through this evaluation determines the injured employee’s abilities in work-related functional tasks and any musculoskeletal deficits compared to the physical demands of the job. Physical Therapists use FCE results to determine the duration and type of therapy a patient needs to return to work safely. Often, if a patient has been off from work for an extended period of time, and the results of the FCE determine that the patient has reached their maximum medical improvement, our Therapists may suggest that the patient may benefit from a work hardening program.

Work hardening or work conditioning, is a work-specific, intensive, goal-oriented treatment program. The goal of work hardening is to simulate workplace activities and surroundings in a monitored environment to enable the patient to return to work safely at full physical capacity.2 Injured workers with physically strenuous job demands are often good candidates for work hardening. At AHS, we provide our work hardening patients with a job-specific exercise program, the necessary equipment, and supervised strengthening. Work hardening not only prepares injured employees to return to work at full physical capacity and pain-free, but also teaches workplace modifications and accommodations to prevent re-injury.


  1. Occupational Health Physical Therapy (
  2. American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)
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