Ever wondered why two individuals with the same injury may recover at different rates?
I’ve seen this time and time again. We know what timeframe to expect for recovery but sometimes things are not exactly what they seem and there is more than the eye can see.
One example that comes to mind was a work related injury that you would typically expect to see fully recovered 6 weeks post op. This case was however surrounded by a number of barriers, some unrelated to the injury.
Psychosocial barriers included:
- Pre-existing psychological conditions
- Performance management issues
- Breakdown of relationships within the workplace
Whilst the business supported the worker with temporary suitable duties in another less physically demanding area, the worker was then reluctant to return to their preinjury role and team. But this was a result of the relationship breakdowns rather than the injury itself, and became a significant barrier delaying their RTW.
Jump forward a few weeks and I’m glad to say that despite the barriers faced, a positive outcome was achieved by proactively addressing the other factors. Being able to identify the root cause for their reluctance to return to their role, meant that we were able to separate the injury/claim from external issues, and address each issue accordingly. But this meant collaborating across a number of stakeholders from their Doctor, Case Manager, their Treatment Providers, and the Employer’s representatives, whilst keeping the workers wellbeing front of mind.
Along with the worker being cleared to return to their pre-injury duties, the business was also able to avoid the claim escalating further.
Two things proved to be essential in minimising the risk of this claim escalating:
- Firstly, a Biopsychosocial (BPS) approach to injury management was required – being able to understand the various factors and how they interrelate, impacting a workers recovery and RTW
- Secondly, the importance of a collaborative approach – working closely with the workers support team to ensure everyone was aligned, expectations and goals were established, and that all barriers had a strategy with support in place led by the appropriate stakeholders
Not everyone will follow the trajectory of the Disability Guidelines, which is why we look at other factors through the lens of a BPS approach. Every individual’s recovery and needs are unique to their own circumstances, but one thing we know is how critical it is to have both a collaborative and BPS approach to injury management.
We know that from a biological perspective, practitioners can diagnose, assess if the symptoms and level of function fit with the diagnosis, ensure appropriate and best practice treatment and follow up, yet we may still see a variance in an individual’s recovery.
And whilst the treating practitioner will focus on addressing the biomedical issues, the roles of other stakeholders in the support team are just as essential in proactively addressing the psychosocial factors.
Implementing a BPS approach helps us think about how different factors can interact, and we use this as a guide when tailoring individual treatment, recovery at work goals, and when considering the support an individual may need.
But What Does This Mean and How Do We Consider a BPS Approach?
When we think of the biological factors, we may consider for example the diagnosis, medication, and/or aggravating factors, but also comorbidity, the presence of another medical condition or disease that may impact recovery.
If we put on a psychological lens, this considers an individual’s thoughts and beliefs, something that is just as important as the biological factors. If a person has maladaptive thoughts, is reluctant for treatment, has a high perception of pain or poor coping strategies, this may impact their recovery.
And if we apply a social lens, this considers the personal and social relationships the worker has, but also includes job satisfaction or problems at home. If a worker dislikes their job or their supervisor, they may have reduced motivation to RTW, or lack of support at home in alleviating aggravating tasks, may delay their prognosis.
So being able to ‘understand the whole person’ provides you insight into why injuries/illnesses impact individuals differently, and to different degrees.
Ultimately, it’s important to understand the BPS factors that may explain delays in recovery and RTW.
So if you are an Employer, frequent communication will be an important tool to understanding your injured workers experience. Seek input from them and reach out to their support team throughout their claim to help shape the support workers may need throughout their rehabilitation, and this will help achieve a safer and faster RTW outcome, not only for your workers, but for your business.
Want To Know More?
If you would like to find out more about how Precision Physio can assist in Return to Work matters or your health in general, please get in touch.
How Do I Book An Appointment?
We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. You can call any of these numbers to schedule a session:
- Precision Physio Concord: 02 9736 3950
- Precision Physio St Marys: 02 9623 2220
- Precision Physio Mt Druitt: 02 9188 2552
Evolving with the current environment, we are also now offering online appointments, meaning that we can support anyone who is unable to leave their home. Sessions are done via our state of the art Telehealth system and as long as you have a laptop or tablet with an inbuilt camera, or a phone with camera, we can help!
To learn more about online consultations, please call us on any of the numbers listed above.