At Westcoast SCI, we work with you to guide you to recovery every step of the way, ensuring your return to work at full pre-injury capacity.

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exercising with physiotherapist
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What is Return to Work (RTW) Planning?

Return to work planning refers to the process of getting someone who has been injured and can no longer work (or cannot perform their normal duties at work), back to work at full pre-injury capacity. The same process can also be translated to return to sport (or activity) in the case that someone needs help getting back to the things they love after an injury.

In the majority of cases, an insurance company will be involved in helping the coordination and planning. The prime example would be a WorkSafe BC claim, but this can also be an ICBC or private insurer as well.

At Westcoast SCI, your treating therapist (registered physiotherapist or registered kinesiologist) will guide you through every step of the way. While constantly keeping your injury top of mind, your therapist will create a plan that will consist of:

  • Asking you what your typical work day looks like to understand what exactly we need to help you work on and setting goals
  • Contacting your workplace and speaking with your supervisor to gain an understanding of whether they can accommodate a gradual return to work (working a shorter day to begin with and slowing adding more hours as you recover) or the option of modified duties
  • Planning your return to work schedule
  • Planning your return to work activities/limitations
  • Developing a exercise program with the goal of getting you back to work at full capacity
  • Checking in for regular sessions to see how your return to work is going and modifying your plan as needed

What is a return to work plan?

A return to work plan will provide a detailed day to day plan (typically lasting about 6 weeks). Depending on how much your workplace is able to accommodate, the plan will outline:

  • Your duties for the week
    • This is especially important if there are limitations due to your injury.
      • For example, a limitation could be not lifting anything greater than 10 lbs. or no lifting over waist height
      • There could be a number of modifications depending on what you do for work and what your workplace can accommodate
  • The number of hours per shift
    • Depending on how long you’ve been off work, it can start with as little as 2 or 4 hours per shift and gradually increase from there
  • The number of shifts per week
  • The plan can last anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks

How do I start a return to work program?

Starting a return work program will be coordinated between your treating therapist, your insurance provider (WCB, ICBC, or private) and your employer. Once you’ve got a plan in place, all the parties involved are on the same page and your therapist gives you the “green light” to start, it’s as simple as that to get started.

Before you begin, your therapist will review the plan and answer any questions you may have.

Why are return to work plans important?

Without a proper plan in place, the likelihood of reinjury is high. You may not know what caused the injury in the first place and could reaggravate something without even knowing it.

Another thing we see quite often is that people do too much too soon. Instead of gradually returning to activities, some people will jump right back in where they left off. This is particularly important if you’ve been off work for a long period of time.

Finally, a healthcare professional contacting your workplace is also great to allow your employer to understand what is involved in order for you to go back to work and do your job effectively for the long term.

What does a Return to Work (RTW) Planning session look like?

Depending on the stage of your injury, your session could involve some manual therapy, education about your injury and therapeutic exercises. As you start getting closer to returning to work, your session will consist of self-management techniques and progressive strengthening (progressive overload) to build up your strength, power and endurance. Depending on what your job duties entail, your session may also include endurance building activities such as prolonged sitting, walking or repetitive movement.

Of course at some point, your therapist will review the return to work plan with you, educate you on what to expect and answer any questions that you may have about your plan.

How do I book a Return to Work (RTW) Planning appointment?

Return to work planning is part of your treatment should you require this service. This means that if you need help planning your return to work after an injury, your therapist will provide you with this plan during your sessions.

To book an appointment with Westcoast SCI, click here.