Helping your injured worker patients return to work

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 53, No. 6, July August 2011, Page 294 WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC contracts a wide range of rehabilitation programs and services to help BC’s injured workers achieve a safe and durable return to work and an in­dependent life. They range from traditional, clinic-based programs to workplace-based ones, or a combination of both.

Physicians play a key role in a patient’s successful return to work by initiating an appropriate rehabilitation program based on the patient’s capabilities, recommending physical activities, and defining medical restrictions. As well, physicians can establish recovery and duration expectations and influence attitudes that determine success.

To help you make those decisions, here is a list of some of the programs and services offered by WorkSafeBC.

Occupational Rehabilitation 1 and Occupational Rehabilitation 2 
OR 1 is a structured, active rehabilitation program focused on return to work through physical and functional conditioning, education, and supported return to the workplace. The individualized programs are offered by physiotherapists, and treatment services may be provided at a rehabilitation clinic, a work site, or both.

Worker patients with more complex injuries, particularly those with psychosocial issues who require the support of a psychologist as well as a physician, are referred to OR 2. The multidisciplinary OR 2 treatment program is offered by occupational and physical therapists, with support from psychologists and physicians, as required.

You can request referral to OR 1 or OR 2 on a Form 8 or Form 11, or by contacting the WorkSafeBC officer responsible for your patient’s claim.

Activity-related soft tissue disorder services
Designed for workers with pathology related to overuse, this service goes beyond diagnosis and treatment to focus on education, work habits, and ergonomics to help minimize the effects of injuries and prevent further injury.

Hand Program
Under this program, community hand therapists (CHTs) rehabilitate workers with acute traumatic injuries of the upper extremity, below shoulder level. CHTs treat injuries to the hands and wrists, such as open wounds, crushed fingers, tendon repairs, and burns; and provide wound care, splinting, and scar management, as well as active therapy.

Pain Management Program
This outpatient assessment and treatment program, provided by physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, physicians, and pharmacists, is for workers with complex pain issues such as:

• Strong disability beliefs, or significant psychosocial or mental health issues, including depression, that are beyond the resources of the OR 2 program.

• Modification of opioid or sedative/hypnotic medication regimen.

• Complex regional pain syndrome.

Head injury assessment and treatment services
This multidisciplinary-team program assesses and treats injured workers with suspected or diagnosed brain injury, including concussion. The ser­vices focus on neuropsychological, medical, and functional assessment and treatment, as well as return-to-the-workplace education for the worker and the worker’s family.

Expedited services
WorkSafeBC offers expedited services for consultations and surgeries by specialists, and diagnostic imaging, primarily through the Visiting Specialists Clinics (VSC) in the main WorkSafeBC building in Richmond. You can request referral to these expedited services on a Form 8 or Form 11, or by contacting a medical advisor in a WorkSafeBC office.

Less common programs and services
WorkSafeBC also offers a number of programs for workers with wide-ranging conditions, such as tinnitus and occupational hearing loss, mental health problems, brain injuries, as well as support services that can be provided in a home or a community or residential facility.

Referring patients
Physicians can refer their patients to WorkSafeBC programs by:

• Contacting the WorkSafeBC officer responsible for their patient’s claim and recommending a specific rehabilitation program.

• Requesting referral on a Form 8 or Form 11.

WorkSafeBC sponsors the pro­grams, but does not provide direct patient care. You remain your pa­tient’s treating physician.
For questions or information re­garding a specific program or service, please contact a medical advisor in your nearest WorkSafeBC office, call 604 232-7787 or toll-free 866 244-6404, or email

For general information about the programs and services, visit Under Custom­er Centres (on the left side of the screen), select Healthcare Provid­ers, and then click on one of the items listed under Rehabilitation programs and services.
—Andrew Montgomerie
Director of Health Care Services

This article is the opinion of WorkSafeBC and has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.

Mark your calendars for the annual WorkSafeBC physicians’ conference:
Saturday, 22 October at Vancouver’s Pan Pacific Hotel. 
For more information, visit

Andrew Montgomerie,. Helping your injured worker patients return to work. BCMJ, Vol. 53, No. 6, July, August, 2011, Page(s) 294 - WorkSafeBC.

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