Return to Work Clinical Practice Guidelines

By: Dr. Laura Wenger, PT, OCS, FAAOMPT

In conducting evidence-based practice, there are three main things that physical therapists rely on to help make the best decisions for how to treat their patient: the patient’s preference, the experience of the practitioner, and the research that is available. Focusing on the research aspect, we rely heavily on high-quality peer-reviewed resources and journals to gather our information. This information gathering is a continual process that is going on behind-the-scenes when we are not working face to face with our patients. One such resource that we use is the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT), which provides us with monthly access to new research on a variety of topics within the orthopaedic and sports world of PT. This journal also publishes Clinical Practice Guidelines, which provide an evidence-based overview of specific topics.

Dr. Christine Richards, PT, OCS

Over the past few years, one of our very own PTs, Dr. Christine Richards, PT, OCS, has been working diligently with a group of PTs to author a Clinical Practice Guideline that was just published this summer in JOSPT, titled “Clinical Guidance to Optimize Work Participation after Injury or Illness: The Role of Physical Therapists.”(1) This guideline provides a summary of recommendations for best practice when it comes to physical therapists’ treatment of patients who have been involved in work-related injuries or illness, which is something we see often in the clinic. These recommendations covered all aspects of patient care, including timing and duration of care, evaluation, treatment involving multiple factors, ergonomic assessment and recommendations, and psychologically informed practice.(1) As with every patient that walks in our clinic, we want to use the most well-rounded approach to help workers either stay in their job or return to work after any illness or injury, and this guideline provides an excellent synopsis of the research on this topic over the past 20 years.(1) We are so proud of Christine for her hard work on this valuable project!

1. Daley D, Payne LP, Galper J, et al. Clinical Guidance to Optimize Work Participation after Injury or Illness: The Role of Physical Therapists. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2021; 51(8):CPG1-CPG102. doi:10.2519/jospt.2021.0303.