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WCB: Working With Injuries

April 5, 2014

It was sudden. In a mere moment, the metronomic ebb and flow of your life transformed into a whirlpool of bewilderment and worry. Yesterday, you were comfortable in your routine and the sense of security it offered. But today, you find yourself in that purgatory where injured people go–somewhere between employment and unemployment. Somewhere in the system we like to call “WCB”, or the Workers’ Compensation Board.

Injury often provokes a sense of losing personal control, and sinks into the ennui of depression; while recovery can be a frustrating and frightening time for an injured worker. For these … and other reasons, many injured workers remain hesitant to return to work until they have fully recovered.

However, such workers can take heart from the reassurance that feeling discomfort during recommended activity is a normal part of the recovery process. “Hurting” does not always mean “harming” because, in the human body, “use” preserves ability while “disuse” leads to disability.

In addition, research has shown that workers recover faster, and with less complications, if they participate in modified duties rather than recovering at home. It is best to remain as active as possible within the necessary restrictions. Doing so will confer physical, psychological, social, and financial rewards.

“A rest from return to work rarely leads to improvement except immediately after acute injuries.”

“Total disability is rare. Most injured workers will benefit from transitional return to work while they recover because it helps maintain their self-esteem and connection with the workplace. Being at work can help alleviate concerns about job security and allows continuing contributions to workplace benefit and pension plans.”

The WCB supports the functional rehabilitation model. This means that the restoration of function is the prime measure of treatment success.

There are several guidelines available to doctors to help sketch a timeline towards recovery.

Fitness for work after surgery

Alberta disability duration guidelines

Saskatchewan disability duration guidelines

In many cases, though, a family doctor will refer a patient for an independent review and a full functional assessment. This not only helps to support decisions regarding work restrictions and limitations, but lays out a clear path towards recovery and full reintegration into the workplace.

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