Tom Rothery, OTR, CFCE
Injury Elimination Specialist
Providing on-site care for work-related incidents can be just as important as treating non-work-related injuries. The difference is that non-work-related injuries can be approached with more skilled care, and treatments can be customized to maximize the employee’s ability to recover. The impact of providing this service from the employer’s view is often not seen in these cases. Due to HIPAA regulations, the information on these outcomes are never conveyed to the employer. Within OccuPro’s Injury Prevention Software, non-work related injuries are protected, and this information is not shared with the employer.
This type of service is an important aspect to the company’s ability to maintain a healthy and productive workforce. Providing this on-site service can decrease the need for employees to seek unnecessary medical care. This can also impact the employers indirectly if employees experience a non-work-related injury or illness causing them to miss work for extended periods of time. The employer will be impacted by having loss in work time, lost productivity, and having to train other workers due to injury and/or illnesses.
Just last month, I provided treatment for a non-work-related injury to an employee named Amy. She presented with symptoms consistent with right carpal tunnel syndrome. Which included frequent “numbness and tingling” in the right thumb, index, and middle fingers that increased over the previous 2 months. She stated that her symptoms had been occurring infrequently for the last few years. Amy also mentioned that most recently her right hand would “cramp,” and she felt her right grip strength was weaker compared to her left hand. After completion of the evaluation, she exhibited positive signs of carpal tunnel syndrome in the right wrist. No atrophy was noted in the right thenar eminence which was a good indication that her symptoms could be treated conservatively.
The recommended treatment consisted of splint wearing at night with less splint use during the day, and education on the type of splint to purchase. I performed retrograde massage to decrease the edema in the right hand and wrist. Stretches were performed to decrease the pressure on the median nerve. Active and passive range of motion stretches for the wrist and hand were performed to increase elasticity of muscle fibers.
Less than two weeks after treatment, Amy reported no problems of numbness and/or tingling in the right hand! We were able to wean her off the splint wearing and begin with gentle strengthening exercises for the forearm, wrist, and hand. Amy reported full resolution of symptoms in 4 weeks with improvements in her grip strength and was thrilled with the outcome! She continues to perform her strengthening exercises as needed. She was initially very concerned about her symptoms and feared surgery would be the only option. By educating Amy on the underlying issues with regards to her wrist/hand and providing treatment to help resolve them, she better understood how to manage her symptoms in the future.
All of the visits were documented in OccuPro’s Injury Prevention software. This software allows the onsite Occupational Health Therapist the ability to focus on treatments while the system automatically sends the employer weakly reports on the employees being seen whether they are work related or non-work related symptoms. The system knows what information to send based on the place of the incident.
This is just one example of the many cases involving non-work-related conditions we have successfully resolved on-site at various companies. The importance of treating the non-work-related aches and pains of employees can be just as important as the work-related injuries your employees experience. Reducing recordable injuries is always a major focus of companies. Management spends a lot of time and effort in reducing these incidents, but the recovery of your employees from non-work-related injuries is just as important. Providing on-site early intervention services such as these can help reduce some of the indirect medical costs. The major benefit of having on-site athletic trainers, physical and occupational therapists at companies can help reduce a significant amount of the direct and indirect costs incurred by the employer. The ability to treat the employee can be done quickly and conveniently on site, with the cost being significantly lower compared to outsourcing that employee to a doctor or outside clinic.
Tom Rothery MS, OTR/L, CFCE, Team Lead – Injury Elimination Specialist for OccuPro has over 15 years of knowledge and expertise in treating work-related and non-work-related injuries for various businesses. He has provided OSHA first aid services on-site at several companies throughout the Midwest and has prevented a variety of musculoskeletal injuries from becoming OSHA recordable. Tom has trained and educated numerous physical and occupational therapists to provide this same high-level service with positive outcomes. He continues to lead OccuPro in the development of their nationally recognized Injury Prevention Software and was the primary tester of this software over the last year of its development.