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Feuerstein Michael PhD; Callan-Harris, Susanne MS; Hickey, Paul Med; Dyer, Diana MS; Armbruster, William MS; Carosella, Ann Marie PhD
Journal of Occupational Medicine: April 1993

The prevalence of work-related upper extremity disorders has significantly increased in the past decade. Persistent pain, loss of function, and associated work disability in patients with work-related upper extremity disorders appears to be affected by multiple factors including physical capabilities in relation to work demands, ergonomic risk factors on the job, and psychological factors related to worker traits, psychological readiness to return to work, and ability to manage symptoms. The complex nature of these disorders suggests the utility of a multidisciplinary program targeted at these factors. The present study is an investigation of the long-term vocational outcome of a multicomponent rehabilitation program that includes physical conditioning, work conditioning, work-related pain and stress management, ergonomic consultation, and vocational counseling/placement. Two groups equivalent on measures of duration of work disability, pain severity, fear of reinjury, psychological distress, perceived work environment, age, and education level were exposed to either the comprehensive work rehabilitation intervention (n = 19) or usual care (n = 15). Return-to-work status was determined at an average of 7 months posttreatment (range, 3 to 35 months) for the treatment group and an average of 18 months postevaluation (range, 5 to 30 months) for the usual care group. Findings indicated that 74% of the treatment group returned to work or were involved in state-supported vocational training in contrast to 40% of the control group (P < .05). For those who returned to work, 91% of the treatment group were working full-time in contrast to 50%

©1993 The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine