The Work Station: How Useful is a Stand Up Desk?

There is a lot of hype at the moment about the concept of stand-up desks. Now stand-up desks are not a new concept. The idea has been around as long as I have been doing ergonomic assessments (quite a while!). However, it seems that more and more people are spending their entire day at in front of a computer and the work day itself has become longer. There has been a strengthening in the research base indicating that prolonged sitting has harmful effects. Unsurprisingly, there has been strong interest in the concept of standing while working, in particular while using a computer. In this blog, Gina Trapani converts to a working in a standing position and gives some ideas on how it can be achieved cheaply. I note that she says she endured some pain on the conversion.

Standing-Up Stations
A quick search of the net will reveal a range of people professing that a standing work station has revolutionised their life. There are a range of stand up work stations available. One reasonably priced version is the Frederik Stand-Up Work Station. For $149 you can have a standing desk set-up.

Standing-Up All Day
Is continuous standing a good thing? In a word I would say, no. In general, standing is probably better as your body is ever so slightly more active, you would usually have a better posture, maintatining the natural curves in your spine rather than the tendancy to hunch that may occur in sitting, however, standing can introduce its own problems. Sore feet and legs can lead to a tendancy to rest the weight on one side, exentuating any scoliosis that may exist. If there are problems with hips, knees or ankles these may be aggravated by prolonged standing.

So Is Standing Bad?
In my experience, bodies love movement. I think assessments of workstations can focus too much on the single ideal position. In fact, even if you are in a great ergonomic position for 8 hours per day, you can still suffer some aches and pains for maintaining that one position over such a long period. So, although reseach indicates that standing is generally better than sitting, I would recommend that people change position frequently. I believe bodies usually provide pretty good feedback on when to adjust although in some situations you may want to encourage a posture that doesn’t feel natural for the worker at first.

Sit Stand Work Stations
So I love the idea of sit stand workstations. I have to mention a particular product in this area. The Workfit-s from Ergotron. This is not an ad, as RehabHub has no connection to Ergotron. This product looks great. It provides the ability for the worker to move from a sitting to a standing position and back again quickly and easily. the workstation itself moves up and down. Fantastic! A worker can use their their own body cues to decide when to sit and when to stand. Have a look at this video to give you an idea of how it works (and a bit of a laugh as well).

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So Would I recommend a Sit Stand Work Station?
In the right situation I would. It would depend on the worker’s needs, their injury, the job and all the things that need to be considered as part of any workplace assessment. I also think that, given the highly adjustable nature of the workstation, the worker would also require some top notch education on how to adjust their workstation and the implications for them, of different positions.

Final Word
Have a look on the Ergotron website, Just Stand.Org. They have a range of workers “breaking up” with their office chairs. It will give you a good laugh.

Another Final Word
This just my opinion. I would love to hear yours. Please comment on the form below. If you would like to be notified of new RehabHub posts, please leave your email address in the form on the right hand side.

I really do appreciate everyone who leaves their email address as it gives me an idea of the people who are reading this blog and the things that you find useful. This blog exists for the readers. I enjoy putting my thoughts out there but it makes it so much more rewarding when I get to actually connect with readers, so please, if you haven’t already done so, just add you email address in on the right hand side of this post.

Posted in Injury Management, Occupational Therapy, technology, whiplash | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Marketing Yourself

Hope everyone had a restful Easter holiday break. Welcome back.

Some RehabHub readers have asked me to include some more business based information so this week I have put together some resources I find useful for marketing. This is not a guide to marketingin any sense, just a couple of pointers on where you might go.

Marketing
The net is overloaded with information about marketing in general, but it is not always appropriate in a professional context. Most of the easily accessible and free information is paired up with a whole lot of hype and encourages you to hype your own business or service. Lets not go there!

I just wanted to mention a couple of resources that you may find useful to manage your own marketing rather than paying someone else to do it for you.

Building Your Own Website
You can set up a website quickly and easily yourself on WordPress (which is how I put this website together). Just go to WordPress.com and go through the tutorials. It is probably easier than you expect and free! although you will need to pay for your domain name if you want to use your own domain. If you are hosting your site with wordpress, this is free but you cannot advertise or sell anything on your site. You can, however, have your own business site hosted by wordpress. If you want to do some e commerce trading or you want to advertise on your site, you can transfer to wordpress.org but you will need to pay for a provider other than wordpress to host the site. The differences are explained on the tutorials.

Brochures, Stationery, Press Ads
Now, when it comes to physical marketing material such as brochures, flyers, business cards and press ads, you may be able to do a lot of this yourself. Be careful though, mistakes in this area can be expensive. Have a look at Brandityourself.com.au (that is, the Australian website not just .com). Under “Free Stuff” you can download some fantastic free “how to”s on putting together your own marketing material. I recommend the Basic Design Introduction Video.

Good luck with marketing yourself and please let me know if you find these resources useful.

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Online Forums and Have You Voted Yet!?!

On-Line Forums – Are They a Waste of Time?
How many of us spend time on online forum? I know at different times I have spend too much time talking to people I didn’t even know! This is crazy so I don’t do it any more but I do think there is a professional role for online forums. A professional discussion can take place as easily on line as in person. The benefit of doing it on line is that it is recorded and that other people from far and wide can contribute. This can be a really positive process. How much do you learn from professionals around you? Well that can happen on line too!

Rehab On-Line Forums
I have had a look and most of the occ rehab related professions do not have an online forum. I note that Occupational Therapy Australia does have one (click here) which is a wonderful resource for all OTs, however, right now it is a bit of a ghost town. Unfotunately for our other readers, it is only for OTs and, specifically, members of the association. I would encourage all members of the Australian Occupational Therapists Association to pop in there and make a comment. Go on! Have a winge or a rave about something and just help to get the ball rolling!! I think this forum could be a great resource for all the association members but we have to start using it.

If members of other professions know of other appropriate online forums, please let us know. We would love to be able to provide this information for Rehabhub readers.

Please Vote for Robyne Cottee
Now that we are on the topic of the Australian Occupational Therapists Association, did you know that it is voting time? There are two positions vacant on the board of directors for which members can vote. If you are a member, why not have your say? Have a look at he blurbs about each candidate here and you can put in an email or snail mail vote. You may notice that I am one of the candidates running for election on the board. I really feel strongly about the challenges facing the association right now and think that I have some experience that would allow me to make a unique contribution. I would appreciate your vote! If you have any questions, please contact me on rehabhub@gmail.com.

Posted in CPD, Occupational Therapy, technology | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Case Conferences

When I started in Occupational Rehabilitation many years ago, there were no Case Conferences. Now I meet with the Dr and client regularly and I don’t see how you can possibly run a case properly without doing that.

A Case Conference is usually a meeting with the injured person, the Dr and the Rehab Provider. You can also have a Case Conference with other treating professionals and/or the insurer which can be very beneficial but usually it is the injured person, you and the Dr. This outline is about a Case Conference with the local Dr or GP. Meeting with a specialist is a whole different thing that I am not addressing today.

Here are some tips for newcomers to help make Case Conferences more productive.

1) Make sure you book for a Case Conference. If you just attend a regular consultation, there may not be enough time and the Dr may even object to your attendance. By informing the Dr’s surgery that it is a Case Conference they will schedule more time, usually at least 30 mins, and the Dr has a chance to prepare.

2) The Dr doesn’t necessarily know how you fit in so make sure you explain who you are, including your profession and your role. Don’t assume they know just by looking at your business card.

3) Make sure the injured person is included in any discussion and try to keep the language in a form that they can understand.

4) Be clear from the beginning of the Case Conference, what it is you want to achieve. For example “We need to discuss John’s prognosis, and his Suitable Duties Plan”.

5) Make sure the Dr is aware that you are an ally. Drs will invariably be protective of their patient’s best interests (as you would hope!). If they see you as a bureaucrat pushing upgrades against the interests of their patient, you won’t get any co-operation. Explain your role.

6) Explain the system as you go. They may not be as familiar with the workers’ comp, CTP or other system as you would expect and probably won’t ask, so make sure you explain how the meeting fits in to the process of rehabilitation. You might explain for example how a Suitable Duties plan fits in to the rehab process. You may also need to provide some tips on filling in a Workers Comp medical certificate. Keep in mind this is taking place in front of their patient so phrase it in a way that doesn’t make the Dr seem lacking in knowledge.

7) Have your information ready. Make sure you have lots of great information to contribute to help the Dr do their job better. What does the person’s job involve, how are they going with ADL, how is treatment going, what are the person’s functional abilities, what are the barriers to return to work. Although the injured person can supply some of this information, you can deliver this information in a quick and concise manner and move the meeting along at a good pace. The purpose of the meeting will be clear once you outline the issues and if the Dr was wondering what the hell you are doing there you will quickly establish your function.

8) Be ready with questions. You will have your own questions so you will need to formulate those in advance but also be ready with questions from the injured worker. Sometimes they will ask you questions they would not ask the Dr because you spend more time with them. If they are of a medical nature and you don’t know the answer, you may be able to put these to the Dr more concisely than the injured person. Enocurage the injured person to ask questions themselves but keep and eye on the time.

9) Do not speak for the injured person, where ever possible, encourage them to state their own expereince and ask their own questions but do keep on top of the process so that the meeting moves along quickly.

10) Get the Drs signature on any agreement. I actually find this difficult as you end up hand writing a plan of some sort in the meeting and that just gets a bit awkward, however, if you can do it, it saves a lot of time later on, following up on signitures by fax or email.

11) If there is a medical certificate issued, read it then and there. Take the time to make sure you understand what the Dr has written. I have been caught out before when the Dr writes something slightly different than we discussed. I then have to follow up with various phone calls and other communications to establish why there is a difference. It may just be an administrative issue which could have been easily cleared up at the time. If it is more substantial then, better to have that sorted in the meeting than afterwards too.

12) Finally, try to make the meeting a pleasant experience. These guys and gals (ie the Drs) are locked away in small rooms, usually without windows for long hours. They don’t know what disease or condition will come through the door and they need to be an expert on everything because their patients rely on them. It is a tough job. If you can make your dealings with the Dr a positive part of their day, they are going to be much easier to work with. The injured worker will be reassured if the meeting goes smoothly too.

These tips are not exhuastive by any means and I am sure you can think of more. They are just a starting point really.

Please click “reply” if you would like to contribute another tip or if you disagree with something I have written. I love comments and so do other readers so go ahead.

Posted in Case Conference, Case management, Injury Management | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feast or Famine – Time Management

I have to say it is rarely a famine. I am talking about the amount of work I have. I rarely have not enough to do but there are times when I am overwhelmed with work and other times when I have breathing space. I guess that can be said of many jobs.

I recently reflected on how important time management is for Rehab Consultants, especially if you bill by the hour. Personally, I often put a lot more time into a report than I bill for. I feel that it is neccessary to make sure all the details are right before it goes out. That is not to say that I never make any errors but I like to make sure they are few and far between. I also like to make sure my reports flow well and have a sufficient but not too much content. All this takes time and I often don’t bill for the total time a report takes for me to write.

I find that I can save some time by setting up the file in an efficient way in the first place. For example, I use a cover page with all the client’s details. I can refer to this when ever I need that information. I know software such as Case Manager is useful for this sort of thing but I don’t think it suits my situation.

I also use a task list so that I can jump on tasks as soon as I have a free moment rather than looking around for something to do. This works well as I also prioritise the tasks in the list, so the first task I get to is the one that really does need attention before the others.

I was just wondering how other people manage their time to make the best use of any spaces in the day and to get the most done in the least time when things heat up. If you have a commment on this topic please click on the word “comment” below and fill us in on your ideas.

Posted in Billable hours, time management, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment