What Are You Looking For?

How Onsite Physical and Occupational Therapists Help Your Workers 

onsite physical and occupational therapists

Physical and occupational therapists are key members of the care team for many injured workers. They help strengthen injured muscles, provide new ways of movement to avoid further injury and offer accommodations to everyday tasks that an injured worker may no longer be able to perform. 

Having onsite physical and occupational therapists at your workplace can help keep all your workers — not just those with injuries — healthy, productive and high performing. 

The Role of Physical and Occupational Therapists in Occupational Health 

Although they are often confused for one another, physical therapists and occupational therapists do very different jobs with the same basic goal — helping their patients get back to living as normal and healthy a life as possible following an injury or illness. 

Physical therapists work with their patients to improve their movement and manage their pain with a targeted treatment plan. This can include duties such as: 

  • Advising patients on exercise techniques 
  • Diagnosing physical impairments 
  • Evaluating patient progress and adjusting treatment plans as necessary 
  • Utilizing exercises, stretching, hands-on therapy and equipment to ease and manage pain 

Occupational therapists may use similar modalities to physical therapists, but their focus is largely on helping their patients perform daily tasks. These can include: 

  • Getting dressed 
  • Using a computer or other equipment 
  • Driving 

Both physical and occupational therapists play valuable roles in promoting occupational health and wellness. Their skills and experience can support your workers in avoiding injuries, receiving treatment when they are injured and staying overall healthy and productive.  

Benefits of Onsite Physical and Occupational Therapists 

Onsite physical and occupational therapists provide a host of benefits to all your workers and your organization. 

Easy Access to Specialized Professionals 

Physical and occupational therapists are specially trained to identify conditions and causes that other medical professionals may not readily recognize. 

Say you have a few employees who visit your onsite clinic complaining of neck and upper back strain. They haven’t experienced any obvious injuries, but the pain is consistent and frustrating. An onsite physical or occupational therapist trained in ergonomic workspace design visits these employees’ workstations and quickly identifies that each individual’s monitor and keyboard isn’t at an optimal height for ergonomic health. The therapist recommends some simple adjustments to make everyone’s workstation more ergonomic and works with the employees on stretching and strengthening exercises to reduce their pain. 

Without the knowledgeable assessment of the onsite therapist, these workers may continue to experience pain and discomfort until they can no longer ignore it. They may require lengthy offsite medical intervention and time off work, and even extended periods of reduced duties. With the average cost of cumulative injuries in 2020-2021 being $33,909 and the average cost of strains in that same period being $36,200, according to National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) data, these costs could quickly add up for your business. 

Customized Treatment Plans 

Each injured worker’s condition is unique, and the recommendations for a worker in one department will be different for another worker in a different department. Unless your worker can clearly communicate their individual work tasks and other lifestyle conditions to their physical or occupational therapist, they may not receive the specific exercises and modifications that will get them back in shape to return to work. 

Your onsite physical and occupational therapists, however, are already familiar with most of your workers’ on-the-job conditions. They can quickly develop and adapt treatment plans laser-focused on ensuring your worker is rehabilitated to keep doing their job. They also can visit your employee at their workstation and observe how they move, adapting the treatment plan to reflect any new things they notice. 

This gives your workers the best possible treatment, setting them up to get better and back to their full duties as quickly as possible. 

Integration with Existing Safety Programs 

Workplace safety programs are a vital part of keeping your workers safe and healthy. They also protect your business from accidents and incidents where you may be liable, costing you in time, money and decreases to your organizational reputation. The best defense against possible fines and violations is ensuring you have a strong, compliant safety program that’s backed by expert advice. 

Having onsite occupational and physical therapists allows you to get this input without having to search for someone outside your organization to provide it. They can be part of any formal safety program development or training you do with your team, and they can be consulted on an ongoing basis as new situations and questions arise.  

Your safety program can continually evolve as your needs and regulations change and you won’t consistently need to bring in outside help. 

Reduced Absenteeism for Treatment 

Once injured workers are well enough to return to their duties, they may still have follow-up therapies and appointments they must attend. Depending on their injuries, this could mean they are absent from work once or more per week, for a few hours at a time. This can make planning your coverage difficult and decrease productivity across your whole workforce. 

With onsite physical and occupational therapists, however, workers can receive their therapy onsite. Appointments can be scheduled over lunch hours or immediately following a shift, so they don’t have to miss any work to receive the care they need. 

Additionally, by having access to these appointments at your onsite clinic, workers are more likely to attend all their appointments and get better more quickly. 

How Onsite Physical and Occupational Therapists Can Address Common Workplace Issues 

Reducing the rates and costs of on-the-job injuries requires active injury prevention and convenient post-injury care. Onsite physical and occupational therapists can help you with this in three ways. 

Ergonomic Assessments and Relevant Modifications 

When a workstation isn’t set up ergonomically, workers are at a higher risk of repetitive use or strain injuries. These may take weeks or years to truly surface, but the rehabilitation cost and timeline can be significant for these injuries. 

Onsite physical and occupational therapists can conduct general assessments of your entire worksite looking for potential improvements, or they can evaluate specific workers’ areas to see if modifications could alleviate pain. This can help your workers avoid costly cumulative injuries that will take them off their duties for days or even weeks. 

Injury Prevention Training and Education 

Even the best worker training programs can’t cover everything, and the longer a worker is on the job, the more comfortable they get with their duties. Lack of training and laziness can lead to poor posture, improper lifting techniques and other conditions that could lead to injury. 

Intervention by an onsite physical or occupational therapist can provide key education and training (or even re-training for those long-term employees) that can prevent injuries. If a worker is used to lifting boxes multiple times a day and, over time, stops bracing their core to protect their back, they could experience a painful acute lower back injury or cumulative back strain. An onsite therapist could conduct one-on-one or group training on proper lifting technique, reminding everyone of the importance of correctly lifting items and helping avoid injuries. 

Convenient Post-Injury Rehabilitation 

Receiving follow-up physical and occupational therapy at an offsite provider can be difficult for workers. They must either schedule all their appointments outside of working hours — something that may not be available from their providers — or they must take off work to attend. This can decrease the chances your workers receive the full amount of care they need to get better, or it can put you in a tight spot ensuring all the work gets done while injured workers are out. 

Having onsite physical and occupational therapists removes most of the barriers to this follow-up care. Workers don’t have to schedule appointments around their work schedule, and they don’t have to travel to an offsite facility to receive care. Your business benefits by keeping workers on the job even as they are actively receiving treatment, improving overall productivity. 

Your Partner for Onsite Physical and Occupational Therapists in Your Workplace 

Medcor offers onsite clinics to businesses of all sizes and in all industries, bringing quality healthcare to workers, removing barriers to care and decreasing costs for employers. If you’re ready to see what onsite physical and occupational therapists can do for your business, speak with an advocate today.