Work Hardening

Work Simluation ActivitiesThe Rehabilitation Institute of Washington Work Hardening Program is an interdisciplinary, individualized, job specific program of activity with the goal of return to work. Work Hardening programs use real or simulated work tasks and progressively graded conditioning exercises that are based on the individual’s measured tolerances.

Work hardening provides a transition between acute care and successful return to work and is designed to improve the biomechanical, neuromuscular, cardiovascular and psychosocial functioning of the worker.

The Evaluation

All workers start the Work Hardening Program with a thorough evaluation by an Occupational and Physical therapist to determine current physical capacity levels and to establish an appropriate treatment plan.

Worker input and careful review of the worker’s job analysis will be used to determine return to work goals.  Workers will be asked to review and sign a Patient Treatment Plan in the first week of the Work Hardening Program.

The Program

Treatment includes physical exercise and reconditioning in the form of stretching, strengthening and cardiovascular (aerobic) fitness, simulation of the critical work demands and instruction in proper body mechanics, work pacing, safety and injury prevention.

The program promotes worker responsibility and self-management and provides for the assessment of the need for job modifications if appropriate.

How Long Does the Program Last?

The Work Hardening Program typically begins with daily treatment for four hours per day with progression of one hour per week for four weeks.

Eligibility for the Work Hardening Program

To be admitted for treatment, individuals must have physical recovery sufficient to allow for progressive reactivation and full daily participation.  The worker must be no more than 2 years past the date of injury and they must have a defined return-to-work goal.

To make a referral, please contact Vanessa Quintero, our Musculoskeletal Programs Coordinator, at (206) 859-5030 x1608, or visit our referral page.

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