Vocational rehabilitation with the industrially injured worker.
- PubMed: 3655266
The field of vocational rehabilitation has broadened beyond the traditional federal-state model into the private sector primarily through funding by the insurance industry via workers' compensation coverage. Most disabilities encountered by private vocational rehabilitationists are musculoskeletal injuries resulting from traumatic industrial accidents rather than congenital disabilities most often seen by the state's Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. In many cases reduction in physical tolerances, extremity use, and/or chronic pain results in the industrially injured worker not being released by the attending physician for return to work in the previous occupation. To be effective, private vocational rehabilitationists working with the industrially injured worker must have a working knowledge of residual tolerances associated with various disabilities, as well as knowledge of legal parameters of the vocational workers' compensation law for each state worked in. In addition, the ability to communicate effectively with attending physicians, attorneys, claims examiners, occupational and physical therapists, and rehabilitation nurses is concomitant with successful positive movement in the vocational rehabilitation process. As with federal and state vocational rehabilitation counselors, the ability to assess transferability of past work skills and current aptitudes is paramount in determining transferability of work skills to alternate occupations. Finally, growing networking between rehabilitation nurses, therapists, physicians, and vocational rehabilitationists is needed to improve the injured worker's ability to maximize his or her physical tolerances in viewing return to work in a position as close as possible to that performed at the time of injury.