Included in the definition of the verb to rehabilitate in the Macquarie Dictionary is:
1. To restore to a good condition, esp. in a medical sense of persons; regenerate, or alter to an improved form.
2. to educate for resumption of normal activities.
The is more the definition but it is not relevant.
Finding a definition of injury management is a little more difficult. The best one I could find is this…..
“Injury Management is a coordinated and integrated management process involving early intervention with appropriate, adequate and timely services based on assessed needs. It is intended to facilitate recovery in order to achieve the best results for a safe and durable return to work for injured workers.
Effective injury management relies on the co-operation of employers, workers’ insurers, medical practitioners, allied health and rehabilitation professionals.”
Which comes from a rehabilitation provider website in Tasmania. The provider is called IPM and you can visit the website by clicking here.
Where do you draw the line and what exactly is the overlap between injury management and rehabilitation?
I think these boundaries are in the process of developing and different organisations may mean different things by the terms rehabilitation and injury management.
So according to the above information, rehabilitation is focused on the injured person and their injury where as injury management includes a stronger focus on other parties including the insurer and employer.
Rehabilitation and Injury Management
According to the above, as a rehabilitation consultant working with a rehabilitation provider working with NSW work cover, and the Motor Accidents Authority, I am involved in both rehabilitation and injury management. If you work for an inusurer, your job would be probably be classified as injury management rather than rehabilitation. Let me know if you disagree with this conclusion.
What do we do?
The overlap between the terms is vast but whatever you call what you do, the role is vital. Common law allows for people injured in an accident to sue other parties if they can prove certain elements. Under worker’s compensation legislation, motor accident legislation, the strict adherance to those requirements is relaxed in exchange for an accepted limited liability from the employer or the driver at fault. The employer or driver also engages an insurer to manage this aspect of their liability.
This is a great thing.
It means that injured people and other parties are not spending years fighting in courts. Resources can be directed quickly and efficiently to help restore the claimant to their former life. There is nothing fair about being injured, particularly if it is a serious injury. In many cases, no amount of money can compensate the injured person for what has happend but the goal is to use what is available in the best possible way.
As rehabilitation and injury management professionals, we assess the situation and make sure that assistance is distributed appropriately for that particular claimant. We encourage early return to work because this has been shown to benefit the injured person and can also helps to directly reduce costs.
Rehabilitation providers are working on behalf of both the injured person and other parties to ensure everyone meets their obligations. There are faults in the system and sometimes it doesn’t work but if we do our job well, most of the time, we can achieve an outcome that benefits all parties.
Clearly, if you work for an insurer or employer, your job is to serve that organisation, however, that should not be seen as working against the claimant. A focus on fighting a claimant rather than trying to find a way to work with them can backfire badly. Please see my post on Cadbury-v-Davis.
None of this is easy. Basically, that’s why we have a job! If it all went smoothly every time, there would be no need for rehabilitation and injury management professionals!
I feel privileged to have the responsibility to assist people at such a vulnerable time in their lives and to really make a difference to their lives. It is increadibly rewarding to see people who have had such bad luck to be able to get their lives back together and to know I have helped them to achieve that.
Let me know your opinions.
On another topic
If you are an Occupational Therapist and a member of the Australian Association of Occupational Therapists, don’t forget to vote for the new board members. The people you vote for will represent you through the association. It is important to understand that the new Occupational Therapy Board of Australia, the government body which is part of AHPRA, represents the community and regulates Occupational Therapists. It does not represent Occupational Therapists. Only the Association does that. So now, more than ever, with national registration about to happen, it is really important to have a strong association and support from all the members, to promote the needs of the profession.
If you have not done so, please go to the association website (click here) and spend a few minutes choosing a board member to represent you. If you decide to vote for me, Robyne Cottee, then I am very grateful to you. I have some unique skills and experience to offer, with my legal and business background as well as a long and varied career as an Occupational Therapist. I also feel it is important for Occupational Rehabilitation to have a voice on the board.
I love hearing from readers
Finally, thanks so much to all of the people who contact me by email. I really love hearing how you enjoy RehabHub and what specific posts were useful to you. It seems the post on stand-up desks was quite popular so I intend to focus a little more on products in the future.
I write RehabHub to give a voice to rehabilitation and injury management professionals as a whole. We are divided into a number of professions and our work can be isolating so I hope to be able to provide a focus with some top quality information but also a friendly environment to help support others working in this area. I greatly appreciate your feedback, which helps make the site more useful. Please feel free to state in just a couple of words in the reply section what content you would like to see on RehabHub and I will do my best to deliver on that.
Thanks for taking the time to read RehabHub, I hope it has been useful for you. Have a great week!