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Biopsychosocial Approach for Treating Injured Workers

Posted by Michelle Despres on May 16, 2018 at 11:13 AM

Body and Mind

Injured workers, particularly those who suffer a chronic injury, carry a heavy burden. Not only are they affected physically by the injury, they are also subjected to various biopsychosocial factors that inhibit the transition back to their pre-injury state. Fear of pain, re-injury, depression or anxiety are a few non-physical factors that may affect the worker’s treatment.

The Mindful Approach

The shift towards a more holistic approach to healthcare has led to increased consideration of the non-physical factors involved with a particular injury. This all-inclusive approach is best applied to those with chronic pain who may exhibit fear or anxiety-avoidance behavior, or experience reduced quality of life following the injury. For instance, workers who have endured multiple surgeries can be affected both physically and psychologically, in turn requiring more comprehensive care beyond somatic treatment. The benefits that such an integrative method introduces involve restoration of the employee’s working capacity and an improvement in their quality of life. This is partially done through educating the worker about their injury, teaching them to manage the care by themselves and preparing them for what to expect moving forward.

Empowering the Individual Worker

Although a chronic injury may never change, the worker’s response to it can. Directing the spotlight on the biopsychosocial factors of the injury plays an integral role in empowering workers to address the situation on their own. Physical and occupational therapists should also incorporate these strategies into an effective treatment plan.

Minding these factors ultimately ushers in an appreciation of the individual worker, rather than simply viewing them as a label based on their injury.