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You drive your rehabilitation

“Get involved in rehab. Take the initiative. You drive your rehabilitation.” That's the message from 64 year old truck driver Bob Cuthel, who returned to full duties as a truck driver at Bundaberg based Lindsay Brothers just six weeks after a major shoulder operation.

Bob was trying to pull a restraining bar from the inside of his truck, when he sustained a right shoulder injury in December 2012. But after receiving medical clearance, he returned to work soon after on suitable alternative duties, including paperwork and duties to assist management, before his surgery in February.

After undergoing Rotator cuff repair surgery, he returned to work again on suitable duties just two weeks after his operation. These duties included yard work, forklift duties, cleaning and assisting other drivers with their loads where possible.

Lindsay Brothers were incredibly supportive of Bob, and worked with him and his medical team to identify these alternative suitable duties. After six weeks Bob was fully cleared to return to his trucking duties, which he was really pleased about.

Given his age, occupation and the type of injury he had, rehabilitation would normally take a lot longer. The key to this success story was the drive and self-belief of Bob, and the consistent open communication between Bob and his medical practitioner, his employer Lindsay Brothers, and his WorkCover Customer Advisor. Bob praised everyone involved in his rehabilitation, particularly his employer.

He gives this advice to others in similar positions who are keen to return to work as soon as possible:

  • Get involved in rehab – you drive your rehabilitation
  • Ask doctors and specialists what you can and can't do. This helps you be best prepared to recover well
  • Do approved home exercises before and after surgery
  • Take the initiative on how to get better
  • Drive your return to work by discussing with all stakeholders what is available at work and what work you are capable of doing

Bob added that getting out of house and back in contact with his colleagues helped his mindset as he didn't sit at home and focus on injury. He said by getting back to work he got back to normality. He was also able to see how he coped and measure whether he was ready to go back to normal duties.

“Work keeps you fit, keeps you occupied and maintains the mind,” he said.

For more information on how alternative suitable duties can aid a quick and safe return to work, call 1300 362 128.

Thank you to Bob Cuthel for sharing his story, Lindsay Brothers and WorkCover Customer Advisor, Alison Robinson.