Updates from the WCB

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 47 , No. 1 , January February 2005 , Pages 13 WorkSafeBC

WCB conference a hit

The WCB’s 5th annual Physician Education Conference, Off the Cuff—Tips About the Shoulder & Other Pearls for Practising Physicians, held in October 2004, was a success, drawing approximately 100 physicians. Attendees said they felt the program was relevant to family medicine, and highlighted Dr Robert Hawkins’ and Dr Don Krawciw’s information on shoulder injuries and shoulder examinations.

Interested in attending the 2005 physician conference? Stay tuned. Details will be posted in late-summer editions of this journal.

Early return to work key to recovery

Getting injured workers back into the workplace as quickly and safely as possible is the WCB’s aim in assisting the recovery process. Without early return to work or referral to rehabilitation practitioners or programs, injured workers face potentially prolonged clinical recovery, especially for soft-tissue injuries (sprains and strains). Early intervention is key to achieving optimal functional outcomes.

The WCB’s early intervention programs and services include an array of programs that draw on the expertise of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, hand therapists, vocational rehabilitation specialists, and physicians (including orthopaedic surgeons, sport medicine physicians, and addiction specialists). These programs allow for:

• Diagnostic services.
• Rehabilitation-centred therapy and work hardening.
• Work-centred therapy and work hardening.
• Specialized programs for certain types of injuries (e.g., hand injuries, brain injuries, repetitive strain injuries).

The WCB’s rehabilitation programs are constantly evolving to reflect current evidence-based best practices. Here are the most recent enhancements to our rehabilitation programs:

Best-kept secret, big success rate

The WCB’s new Activity Related Soft Tissue Disorders (ASTD) Services for repetitive strain injuries, introduced in the fall of 2004 by Health Care Services, have generated high return-to-work rates. Ninety percent of workers discharged in October 2004 were recommended to return to work in full capacity or with limitations.

Designed for workers with pathology related to overuse or repetitive strain injuries, the new ASTD services include medical assessment for diagnostic clarification as well as clinic-based, workplace-based, or combined (clinic- and workplace-based) treatment for injured workers with an accepted ASTD claim. The core ASTD treatment team consists of a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a physician, and a psychologist or clinical counselor. ASTD service providers are located in Kelowna, New Westminster, Surrey, Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Abbotsford, and Alberta.

Manage hand injuries for optimal recovery

Since the summer of 2004, when we first implemented our enhanced Hand Therapy Program, feedback from referring physicians and surgeons has indicated beneficial results. Early and immediate referral to this program is critical for optimal functional outcome, especially for hand injuries.

The Hand Therapy Program provides consultation and treatment services to workers with injuries of the upper extremity, below the shoulder. The goal is to provide early, individualized, specialized treatment to achieve maximal use of the injured extremity and facilitate early return to work. One of the new features of the enhanced program is the return-to-work coordination by a certified hand therapist.

Hand therapy programs are currently available in 17 communities throughout the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, and the Okanagan.

Breaking through diagnostic barriers

Medical Assessment and Return-to-Work Planning (MARP) services were introduced in the fall of 2003 to provide early diagnostic clarification for workers with outstanding medical issues or barriers to return to work. If you are having difficulty making a diagnosis for a patient with a WCB claim, please consider an early referral to this program.

MARP services provide appropriate investigations and recommendations for treatment, rehabilitation, and return to work. Specialists in sport medicine or occupational rehabilitation medicine perform the medical assessments, while other services include a psychosocial screen and, when appropriate, a functional assessment by a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, or kinesiologist.

Unique brain injury program

Our new Brain Injury Services Program is unique in incorporating both timely assessment and treatment to provide optimal care and rehabilitation (for all degrees of brain injuries).

The program includes four main service categories:

• Brain injury assessment.
• Head injury assessment and treatment.
• Neuropsychological assessment.
• Neuropsychological-occupational therapy assessment.

More programs coming

We are constantly enhancing our rehabilitation programs and, when the need arises, creating new services. We will continue to provide you with program information as soon as it becomes available.

If you have any questions or would like more information about any of our rehabilitation programs, please call your local medical advisor or call Health Care Services at 604 232-7787, toll free at 1 888 967-5377, local 7787.

—Don Graham, MD
WCB Chief Medical Office

Don Graham, MD, CCFP. Updates from the WCB. BCMJ, Vol. 47, No. 1, January, February, 2005, Page(s) 13 - WorkSafeBC.



Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
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