Work Hardening Program

Work Hardening Program

What Is a Work Hardening Program?

Work hardening programs are job-specific treatment plans designed to help an individual improve or restore function in order to return to work after an injury or other condition. These programs are highly customized and goal-oriented, set to standards determined by the injured patient’s job description at the therapist’s discretion.

Under a therapist’s guidance, the individual will be trained in a series of exercises designed to simulate work tasks in addition to being instructed in proper body mechanics and job-specific strategies. Work hardening programs may sometimes be administered after a therapist’s functional capacity evaluation when such as need is identified.

Being kept from work due to injury is not something that everyone can afford. Oftentimes, the individual needs to return to their occupation as quickly as possible. At Central Washington Physical Therapy, location in Yakima, our trained staff is ready to help you regain your ability work as quickly and as safely possible.

Conditions That May Require Work Hardening

  • fracture
  • muscular deconditioning (weakness)
  • muscle strain
  • overuse injury
  • surgery
  • tendonitis
  • work-related injury

The Program

Work hardening programs typically take place over a two- to four-week period and are often more individualized than other physical therapy programs. Using the individual’s job description, the therapist will choose exercises (or create new ones when needed) designed to simulate work activities.

Like most physical therapy programs, these exercises will start at a low intensity, increasing throughout the course of the program as tolerated by the individual. By the end of a work hardening program, the individual is expected to be able to perform the tasks required by their occupation.

Example Work Hardening Exercises

  • circuit training
  • overhead weightlifting
  • picking up weights from the ground
  • shelving weights and various heights
  • squatting
  • treadmill
  • upper body ergometer
  • walking while carrying weights
  • weighted sled push

In medium- to high-intensity occupations, using proper body mechanics is vital to avoid injury and stay on the job. As such, the patient will be instructed in proper body mechanics and will receive other pieces of job-specific guidance in addition to exercises. Instruction in pain management techniques and other relevant skills may be needed as well and are offered at the discretion of the therapist.

If you have been injured and need to return to work, a work hardening program may be able to help you achieve that goal. Contact us below to get started.