51-year-old male employed as a sheet metal worker. Works 6 days per week, 10 hours per day. In 2011 he experienced pain and discomfort in both shoulders during weight bearing overhead activities. He was diagnosed with bursitis, rotator cuff impingement and tendonitis. Cortisone injections did not ease symptoms. A strengthening program was completed by an Absolute Balance Exercise Physiologist recommended by the GP in late 2013.
Upon examination the client did not have optimum posture with poor muscle recruitment and dysfunctional motor patterns. The 12-week exercise program focused primarily on correct activation patterns and postural improvements before moving into strengthening for endurance and conditioning.
The client responded to the program very positively with a decrease in pain, increase in sleep quality and enhanced work function. The worker returned to pre-injury duties with a greater level of confidence, indicating greater potential for working life longevity and no necessity for re-deployment.
As the duration of this claim has now reached three years with late exercise intervention yielding most successful results in comparison to injections, the benefits of early exercise intervention are explicitly clear.
Although the file remained opened for a lot longer than necessary, the success of this particular Worker can be attributed to compliance, informed exercise prescription and a solid rapport between Exercise Physiologist, Worker, Insurance Company and the treating General Practitioner.
What we can learn:
Although this article is pro-active for exercise programming what we know is that exercise is a good leveller, in that the Exercise Physiologist is able to identify whether the Worker/Patient is biomechanically & potentially functionally able to commence meeting physical critical demands. Introducing an exercise programme will allow the level of engagement and the functional abilities of the Worker by carving out an effective RTW programme in conjunction with an Injury Management Consultant or the Worker’s in-house Case Manager to meet the associated targets set by the above mentioned in consultation with the treating General Practitioner.