The benefits of occupational rehabilitation are far-reaching

By Kerrie Stacey


Long-term injuries that cause significant lifestyle changes can be very overwhelming. Having the support of an exercise physiologist who can guide an affected individual through the process of recovery and help them retain maximum quality of life is so important.

Early intervention, support and access to treatment, aids the whole rehabilitation process. If these barriers are not addressed in a timely way, people might not get the support they need, and their mental and physical health can decline.

The role of occupational rehabilitation is also preventative: by teaching people safer methods of performing various activities and addressing risk factors before they develop into an issue, it helps to limit accidents and injuries both in and out of the workplace.

Occupational rehabilitation as a tool for recovering from injury

Rehabilitation specialists are trained allied health professionals who help injured people recover and/or adapt to their injury. As an exercise physiologist working in this space, my role is to look at what the individual’s goals are and how we will support and facilitate a plan to achieve this. Our aim is to get individuals back to the best life and health possible.

I carry out this work in Konekt Workcare, part of the APM Group. We work with a variety of insurers and companies, helping clients in all kinds if scenarios, from those who have recently been medically discharged from the defence force, to those who need support going through the WorkCover process after a workplace injury.

We teach our clients how to do tasks in ways that may be different from how they did them previously, but show them they can still perform meaningful activities. It is all about showing someone they can do things, not that they cannot.

We provide education, strategies, and preventive interventions around:

  • Routine building
  • Sleep hygiene
  • Exercise
  • Modifications and supports for in the home and workplace
  • Proactive approach to managing health conditions
  • Importance of graduated rehabilitation programs
  • Goal setting

Improving resilience

In providing clients with knowledge of their condition and how they can gradually increase tasks and progress towards independence, we improve their resilience.

I recently worked with an individual who was going through a WorkCover claim for a psychological condition. The process of looking for a new job whilst managing new health conditions was confronting for her and increased her symptoms. Our rehabilitation team focused on providing her with a lot of reassurance, supporting her to engage with appropriate health providers, and outlining gradual steps to get back into work again. She’s now found a role that really suits her, and it’s been great to witness her get back to the workforce successfully whilst managing her health conditions.

At the end of the day, in occupational rehabilitation it all comes back to finding out what people can do as opposed to ‘I can’t do this', or 'I can’t do that’ because of an injury. It’s a way of saying ‘yes, you can’, and finding appropriate solutions which involves thinking outside the box.

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