"The idea is to try to simulate what is referred to as the critical physical demands of the job," said David Davenport, PT, clinic director for ErgoPlex.
"We're being a bridge from traditional therapy to return to work," Davenport
Without this type of program, patients are expected to jump into physically demanding jobs after several months off where they have had very few physical requirements or demands on their time.
"We're preparing the person physically," said Davenport
, "but the other part is preparing the person mentally and emotionally that they are going to have responsibility again for their schedule."
During their time in one of the work programs at ErgoPlex
, which is a full-service physical therapy clinic, the patient spends anywhere from four-eight hours recreating a typical workday.
"There are concrete blocks that can be used to stack, carry and lift," said Davenport
."For example, we might have bricklayers build a wall up and then un-stack it."
"We have mechanical disassembly," he
continued."In that setting what the person would be doing is using tools to disassemble small parts like from a computer or typewriter or any kind of old appliance.
"You work on finger and hand dexterity, upper extremity repetitive use and endurance for the shoulder and arm," he
added, "There are going to be stresses on the body that are different in doing your work than you would be able to recreate doing a traditional exercise."
"We're teaching body mechanics," said Davenport
."We show them alternative ways of doing the activity and to stop when they feel pain and maybe turn another way or do a few stretches."He
added, "They're learning to pace themselves and they're learning to monitor their own symptoms."
"We make observations during rehabilitation and therapy to see if the functional capabilities we're seeing are consistent with the diagnosis," Davenport
After the FCE is completed, a report is generated for the physician who then makes a determination of any restrictions or impairments. Davenport
said they average about eight functional capacity evaluations a week at ErgoPlex
.In addition, he
also does job site evaluations and ergonomic assessments for companies.