Workers’ Comp Is a Specialty

Apr 17, 2015
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As our industry of physical therapy looks to diversify it's patient population and payer mix, we often seek out to develop programs treating the "industrial athlete" or "injured worker" or simply the "work comp patient." Many of us believe that because we are skilled in biomechanics, kinesiology, tissue healing and all of the other aspects that our treatment methodology requires, that we can treat and understand the "work comp patient."

As simple as that may sound, your newly designed program may not achieve what you had intended for it to achieve. Treatment methodology and understanding how the human body functions and heals is only half of the battle. In order to truly treat the "work comp patient" you must understand that it is truly a specialty-much like treating those patients with vestibular deficits. Not all of us understand how to treat vestibular deficits nor do we all want to. Treating the "work comp patient" is no different.

Before developing a program, I suggest that you learn more about the following: the worker's compensation laws in your state; disability settlements that occur with work place injuries; understanding what the term "Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)" truly means to your work comp plan of care; understanding the "work comp patient" rights in your state and understanding how musculoskeletal function relates to the essential functions of a job. If this sounds overwhelming, it is. If it doesn't, then you certainly understand the specialty at a high level.

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