A poor understanding of pain, a tendency to avoid activity along with reports of previous workplace conflict are strong factors that influence a clients’ motivation to return to work after injury.

Our client, ‘Mary’, suffered a lower back injury, and had been medically unfit for work for 12 weeks. She was reporting high levels of pain and poor function despite attending physiotherapy and receiving adequate medical management. Mary believed her pain would become much worse if she attempted to return to work.

Prior to her injury, Mary reported she experienced a multitude of workplace internal issues, including a poor relationship with her employer, a high workload and a risk of redundancy. 

She presented as depressed and struggling with the day to day demands of everyday life – demonstrating minimal motivation to increase her hours of work in line with medical guidelines. Mary’s treating doctor and physiotherapist were also very passive, resulting in capacity upgrades being difficult to negotiate. 

Mary was referred to PeopleSense by Altius psychologists to participate in the Enhanced Recovery Program (ERP).

After just a few sessions of the Enhanced Recovery Program, Mary demonstrated a complete shift in her mindset, indicating an eagerness to increase her working hours. This led to Mary independently visiting her treating doctor to negotiate a full medical clearance for work, up to one month ahead of schedule.   

Mary confirmed that the rapport she developed with her psychologist during the ERP, and the strategies provided to her during the program were the prominent factors for this turn around, and her return to work success. 

This is a familiar story we observe at Altius Group with injured workers - regardless of age, industry or education. A poor understanding of pain, a tendency to avoid activity along with reports of previous workplace conflict are strong factors that influence a clients’ motivation to return to work after injury.

Psychosocial risk factors such as these can complicate recovery from a physical injury and, if not addressed in the early stages, can often lead to a poor return to work outcome.