With the onset of the industrial revolution and the creation of workers' compensation insurance, the need to determine the fitness for duty of the employee became critical to the employer. The underwriting process for insurance placed a greater emphasis upon the employer's responsibility to make certain the worker was not placed at risk in performing the usual and customary job duties. A negative loss experience had, and continues to have, a correspondingly negative impact upon the cost of insurance for the employer with a work force placed at risk.
In returning individuals to work subsequent to medical treatment, reliance has historically been placed upon the physician to determine the residual abilities of the worker. In cases with limited or no residual disability, the answer is usually quite easy to obtain. However, injuries with a noticeable impairment and corresponding disability present a significant issue to the insurance company, the employer and the employee. The overwhelming tendency is for the medical community to present the worker's condition in technical, impairment-based medical terminology. What does a 30-degree loss of abduction and a 15-degree loss of internal rotation of the right upper extremity mean to a carpenter? To the employer, employee and the insurance company, this does not tell us whether the carpenter can safely perform the job. And, if the worker does have some limitations, what functions will he or she be capable of safely performing?
It is also important to understand why and when functional testing should or could be conducted. A Functional Capacity Evaluation or Post Offer of Employment Test is a process that should be driven by the nature of the referral question. Whether the question is can an individual safely return to work following an injury (modified or not) or does the individual meet basic job demands required to perform their job safely must be addressed and answered. The Functional Testing system also recognizes varying complexities in the evaluation of function, and the need to address each issue on a customizable basis.
Components of Industrial Therapy Services include:
- Work Hardening/Conditioning
- Functional Capacity Evaluations
- Post-Offer of Employment Testing
- Ergonomics Assessment