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Support on the road to recovery

A hard road to recovery is made easier by an open line of communication between an injured worker and an employer.

A Queensland Police Service (QPS) worker was involved in a car accident on his way to work in March 2012.

His vehicle was hit from behind, causing injury to his lower back.

The worker initially tried physiotherapy to avoid surgery on his back, however it was found that he required surgery for a L5S1 anterior discectomy and inter-body infusion in September 2012.

Adding to his injury, the worker then had two blood clots to his lungs post-surgery and was readmitted to hospital for a week before a period of warfarin treatment began.

When the worker returned to physiotherapy after his surgery, his treatment plateaued.

WorkCover organised a screening assessment with another provider to find out what was needed to help the worker progress with his rehabilitation.

“We identified that the worker needed an exercise program to push past the pain,” WorkCover Customer Advisor Caroline Thomas said.

“He upgraded to a gym strengthening program in conjunction with a psychologist with some adjustment to injury counselling.”

The worker began to improve with the new program and provider.

“He worked hard on his rehabilitation and was diligent with his exercise routine,” Caroline said.

“He overcame some difficult times in relation to the fear of returning to his full normal duties.”

The worker persevered and was able to return to work on suitable duties and reduced hours. He then gradually upgraded his duties and hours until he was fully cleared by his treating doctor.

“The worker and QPS maintained very open communication. Given the previous injuries and surgeries, it was going to be a long road for the worker to get back to the demands of his normal duties,” Caroline said.

The worker expressed any concerns he felt along the way to WorkCover and QPS so they were able to work together to put plans in place to support him.

QPS allowed flexibility with the return to work plan and in the early stages, the hours of work were made on alternate days, allowing the worker to participate fully in his rehabilitation.

As the worker increased his hours, QPS also arranged the physiotherapist to attend his retraining and go through the different moves and stances that would be best for him. This gave the worker added confidence to return to his full duties.

He offers the following advice to other injured workers: “Keep positive and communicate with your case worker so you can help them to help you.”

For more information on the return to work process and the health benefits of work, contact WorkCover Queensland on 1300 362 128.