By: Michelle Despres, VP and National Product Leader for Physical Therapy, One Call
People respond to injuries physically, emotionally and socially in many different ways, with every response playing a vital role in the recovery process. If a patient suffers from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or any other psychosocial condition due to their injury, physical treatments alone are often not sufficient for successful return to work and life. These mental health conditions can worsen overall health and create new complications, such as addiction to pain medication and deterioration from non-compliance due to depression.
Let’s consider a case where a truck driver was in an accident that caused him to be trapped for two hours, hanging upside down, while the jaws of life extricated him. Once rescued, he suffered from persistent physical pain as well as anxiety around the thought of driving again. All he could think about was how badly he could have injured the other driver involved in the accident. This claim could have become complicated and drawn-out; however, the truck driver received holistic, patient-centric treatment. This enabled him to return to work after just 10 physical therapy visits.
Three key components drive successful outcomes when psychosocial factors are present. When incorporated in a treatment plan, patients can maintain a positive mindset and focus on recovery rather than the injury that led to the treatment in the first place.
The ability to connect with a patient quickly establishes a foundation of trust. The physical therapist is able to accurately assess the injury and help ease anxieties such as, Will I be able to work?, Am I going to get hurt again?, and Am I going to suffer pain for long? Physical therapists talk through these concerns and show patients their path to recovery.
On average, we schedule a patient’s first appointment with a qualified independent provider within two hours of receiving a referral and gets patients in front of a physical therapist within 1.5 days.
Fostering a Positive Mindset
A patient’s attitude is the second component to a successful recovery. A patient with a favorable attitude tends to heal quicker, and with fewer complications, than those who are negative. A study from Pennsylvania State University found negative moods are associated with an increased risk of inflammation1. Inflammation due to injury is normal, but if a patient suffers from chronic inflammation, the healing process will be delayed.
Negative thoughts can also create tunnel vision, causing patients to focus on the problem instead of the solution. When this happens, there is increased risk of patients becoming disengaged and non-compliant.
Physical therapists who create a goal-oriented recovery experience enable patients to stay focused and positive while on their road to recovery.
Active patient engagement is the final fundamental piece needed for successful recovery. This approach encourages a patient to become a partner in their care versus just a passive recipient of it.
Active engagement includes explaining treatment to a patient in layman’s terms, involving the patient in their care, and celebrating successes along the way.
When a workplace injury occurs, there are often emotional and mental factors that must be considered when creating a patient’s treatment plan. By treating the patient, not the injury, you will reduce claim costs, create shorter return-to-work timelines, and best of all, set patients up for long-term success.
About Michelle Despres
Michelle is a leader within the world of physical therapy discussing everything from virtual physical therapy to physical therapy as an opioid alternative. She encourages injured workers to be independent and take an active role in their recovery with the help of innovations in physical therapy. Michelle mentors clinicians to improve delivery of treatments and services and return-to-work results.
About One Call
Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, One Call is the nation’s leading provider of specialized healthcare solutions for the workers’ compensation industry. One Call arranges convenient, efficient and cost-effective healthcare for injured workers so they can get back to work and life faster. From diagnostics and medical equipment to home healthcare, physical therapy and transportation, One Call offers a complete suite of innovative products and services with a focus on injured workers’ needs across the continuum of care. For more information and the latest news, visit us at onecallcm.com, LinkedIn (One Call) and Twitter (@onecallcm).
1How do our Emotions Affect our Immune Response? (2019, January). Retrieved from Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324090.php
One Call is a WorkCompWire ad partner.
This is NOT a paid placement.