Trauma Survivors Network - provided by ATS

Survive. Connect. Rebuild.

A Program of the ATS

Work Rehabilitation

Work rehabilitation or work hardening is an individualized, highly structured, job specific treatment program with the goal of return to work. Rehabilitation is designed to improve the biomechanical, neuromuscular, cardiovascular, and psychosocial functioning of the worker. Work hardening focuses on simulated work tasks, progressive conditioning exercises, flexibility, mobility, strengthening, education and prevention. Work hardening provides a transition between acute care and successful return to work while addressing the issues of safety, physical tolerances, work behaviors, and functional abilities. This type of rehabilitation usually lasts for 4-6 weeks and injured workers attend sessions 3-5 days a week. Daily sessions last for approximately 4 hours.

The following individuals should be referred to work hardening:

  • Individuals whose physical or behavioral tolerances interfere in return to work.
  • Individuals who require modifications and/or reasonable accommodations to maximize safe and functional return to work following an illness or injury.
  • Individuals who seek to re-enter the job market but require assistance in overcoming physical or behavioral barriers.
  • Individuals who need to document their physical capabilities to perform specific job demands. The specific goals of work hardening include: o To insure a smooth, rapid, safe transition into the work force o To develop physical tolerance for work, including flexibility, strength, and endurance o To develop safe job performance to prevent re-injury o To develop and reinforce appropriate work behaviors o To provide data concerning a worker's physical and psychological tolerances that are essential to the vocational planning process o To determine if tool or job site modifications, ergonomics, or assistive technology will remove barriers to return to work o To promote patient responsibility and self-management