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Reducing Lost Workdays After Work-related Injuries: The Utilization of Athletic Trainers in a Health System Transitional Work Program

Larson, Matthew C. M Ed; Renier, Colleen M. BS; Konowalchuk, Brian K. MD, MPH

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: October 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 10 - p 1199–1204
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31822cfab3
Original Articles

Objective: To determine if an internal employee health program (IEHP), including transitional work, with early access to physical medicine and rehabilitation provided by athletic trainers, will reduce missed workdays following work-related injury.

Methods: A retrospective review of health system workers’ compensation data were conducted for injuries sustained 23-month period preceding (PP) (N = 713) and following IEHP implementation (N = 661).

Results: Sixty-two PP and 128 IEHP events resulted in lost workdays (LWDs), P < 0.001. For LWDs events, mean days lost decreased from 100.3 ± 119.7 PP to 44.6 ± 69.0 IEHP, P = 0.001, with 2.2 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.1–4.2) IEHP 3-week odds of returning to work.

Conclusions: Internal employee health program reduced LWDs. Internal employee health program was associated with more than 10% increase in LWDs events, but LWDs event mean days lost decreased by more than 50%, with 3-week odds of returning to work more than 2.0.

From the Occupational Medicine (Mr Larson and Dr Konowalchuk), SMDC Medical Center, Duluth Clinic, Duluth; EMPI (Mr Larson), St Paul; and Research Division (Ms Renier), Essentia Institute of Rural Health, Duluth, Minn.

Address correspondence to: Matthew C. Larson, M Ed, EMPI, St Paul, MN 55126 (mlarson@empi.com).

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine