work hardening

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work hardening

 
a rehabilitation program designed to restore functional and work capacities to the injured worker through application of graded work simulation. Included are activities designed to improve overall physical condition, including strength, endurance, and coordination specific to work activity, as well as means for coping with any remaining symptoms from the original problem, such as pain. Central to all work hardening programs is the reproduction of a work-like environment where tasks are designed to improve the patient's tolerance for productive work.



The goal of work hardening is to achieve an acceptable level of productivity for returning to one's former occupation or for meeting the demands of a specific new type of work. Therefore, worker behaviors and not just physical conditioning are addressed. These include having structured work times and duties, dressing appropriately for one's tasks, and conducting oneself in a worker-like manner. It is important to differentiate work hardening from work conditioning, which does not address these added concerns.
Treatment Personnel. Work hardening is generally administered by physical or occupational therapists, working independently or as part of a team, which might include physicians, vocational counselors, psychologists, and other rehabilitation professionals. Drug and alcohol specialists, ergonomists, orthotists, dieticians, and industrial nurses may also be involved in the program.
Settings. Work hardening programs can be found in rehabilitation and general acute hospitals, private physical or occupational therapy centers, vocational training facilities, and fully dedicated facilities or within private industry. When found in hospitals or therapy centers, programs either share space with other rehabilitation programs (mixed-use setting) or are in partitioned areas designed specifically for the purpose (dedicated space setting). Fully dedicated facilities, whose only use is work hardening activity, are generally thought to offer the best environment for worker rehabilitation since they provide the nearest reproduction of actual work experience.

work hard·en·ing

(wŏrk hahr'dĕn-ing)
A multidisciplinary program where actual work tasks are performed to rehabilitate an injured worker in preparation for a return to the job.
See also: work conditioning

work hard·en·ing

(wŏrk hahr'dĕn-ing)
A multidisciplinary progam where actual work tasks are performed to rehabilitate an injured worker. The focus of therapy is to stimulate a regular work routine where therapy is regimented as a precursor to return to work.
See also: work conditioning
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