Practicing dance moves can be a step in the right direction when returning to work after an injury. Sports and leisure activities build skills and endurance that are often transferrable in the workplace. Our occupational therapists sometimes incorporate sports and leisure activities into treatment plans so workers return to their jobs in a timely and safe manner. This increases workplace productivity, decreases the number of absences and can reduce worksite accidents.
How OTs Use Sports and Leisure for Return to Work
When Melissa Ferguson, OT, first meets with a client, she wants to know, “What are some of the important activities for you in your life?” She asks her clients why they enjoy those activities. She chooses to focus on what lights her clients up and gets them excited, even when an injury feels like a barrier to participating. She uses task analysis to create a step by step breakdown on how to achieve a chosen final goal.
Through a gradual progression in frequency and intensity, Melissa helps her clients discover what they can do, rather than focusing on what they can’t.
The Benefits of Sports and Leisure
Melissa’s clients build up sports and leisure routines before returning to work. As a result, her clients arrive at their jobs better prepared with skills in stress and pain management as well as community activation and ergonomics.
Exercise and hobbies can improve both physical and psychological functioning when they become regular, personalized practices for a variety of reasons. They allow us to connect with members of our community. They foster a feeling of accomplishment and confidence. Sports and leisure also:
- develop habits to build structured routines
- hone motor skills
- prevent and improve back problems, especially through low-stress aerobics like walking and swimming
- reduce chronic pain through yoga, Pilates, and strength training
- support independent living for seniors and prevent falls
- release tension caused by repetitive tasks and desk set-ups
- foster mental wellbeing
Educating yourself is a great first step to returning to recreational activities. Below are resources you can turn to for more information.
- “The Benefits of Recreation.” (City of Richmond)
- “Fearless Fitness: An Exercise Guide for People with Chronic Pain.” (CurableHealth.com)
- “Effects of Recreational Physical Activity and Back Exercises on Low Back Pain and Psychological Distress: Findings from the UCLA Low Back Pain Study.” (Authors: E. Hurwitz, H. Morgenstern, and C. Chiao)
Get Started with an OT
All of our therapists at OT Works! are certified with the College of Occupational Therapists of British Columbia (COTBC) and have additional training in areas such as mental health, brain injury rehabilitation, home safety and chronic pain.
If you or someone you know could benefit from occupational therapy after a motor vehicle accident or other injuries, contact us today! We are happy to answer any questions you may have.
Phone: 604.696.1066 ext 1000
Occupational therapists (OTs) support you during your transition back into the worker role after an injury or accident. OTs facilitate realistic and proactive return to work planning that considers all of the factors that impact success. Our OTs partner with you to develop plans that enable you to re-build your specific work skills, and the confidence needed for long-term success.
Location of Services:
Our OTs meet you at your home and workplace to develop a return-to-work plan and to facilitate your progress.
Examples of Services:
- Job Site Visit
- Job Demands Analysis
- Assistive Technology
- Ergonomic Assessments
- Assessing Function in relation to Work Demands
- Gradual Return-to-Work (GRTW) Planning
- Gradual Return-to-Work (GRTW) Monitoring
- Vocational Assessment
How can OT help me return to work?
- Assess return to work readiness
- Provide education, strategies and coping tools
- Facilitate symptom management
- Prescribe and organize appropriate assistive and ergonomic equipment
- Develop personalized plans with attainable goals
- Advocate for return to work options with your employer
- Provide on- and off-site coaching
Who can refer me?
There are many professionals who can refer you to RTW Occupational Therapy. These include:
- Medical providers, such as your GP, physiotherapist, psychologist, etc.
- Public services, such as WorkSafe BC, ICBC, health authorities and hospitals.
- Other professionals involved in your recovery, such as your insurance specialists, adjuster or lawyer.
OT services are typically funded by WorkSafe BC, ICBC, your extended health insurance coverage, health authorities or legal settlements. You or your family can also pay for your treatment privately.
Why OT Works?
We have assisted clients as they returned to work and other meaningful activities since 2001. At OT Works!, treatment is client-centred. Every assessment and intervention is individualized so that your goals are in mind. While our knowledge is extensive, we have a particular focus on cognitive challenges (mental health and concussions) and ergonomics. Regardless of the nature of your challenges, we will partner with you to develop a plan built for your success. We help you return to work so that you can stay at work.
An effective workspace is essential to feeling well at work and wherever else. Ergonomic changes to your workspace promote good posture and contribute to physical wellbeing. They also allow better efficiency with tasks. Consider the ergonomic recommendations below and seek professional help from a registered occupational therapist if you need more help.
Consider the following:
- Are you sitting up straight?
- Are your shoulders relaxed?
- Are you leaning forward, creating tension in your back?
- The height of your chair.
- Are your forearms horizontal, your wrists straight, and your thighs at a 90 – 110 degree angle at the hips?
- Does the lower part of your backrest support the curve of your back?
- Do you have armrests, to decrease the strain on your back and neck?
- Your computer monitor.
- Is the top line of text on the screen at eye level?
- Is the screen an arm’s length away from your eyes?
- Do you need to adjust the contrast, brightness, or font size on the screen?
- Your visual needs.
- WorkSafe BC has a list of information to share with your ophthalmologist or optometrist regarding your desk and computer work.
- Do you need to lower the overhead light levels to prevent glare?
- Do you need to move your desk lamp (to the opposing side to your dominant hand)?
- Your work area organization.
- Are frequently used items close to you (within a 30 cm reach)?
- Are occasionally used items within an arm’s reach to you (within a within a 50 cm reach)?
- Are any rarely used items put away or set further aside?
- Your phone set up.
- Do you use a headset or speakerphone to avoid awkward neck positions?
Take short breaks (20 sec. to 2 min.) to allow your muscles to rest between repetitive activities. On longer breaks, stand up and walk around so that you use different muscles than while sitting. Try basic exercises like these here or here to help you prevent strains at work.
You may find an ergonomic assessment by an OT to help address any issues you have. Contact us and we will be happy to have an occupational therapist come to you.
Phone: 604.696.1066 ext 1000
- “Ergonomics & Computer Use.” University Health Services at Princeton University. https://uhs.princeton.edu/health-resources/ergonomics-computer-use
- “Office Ergonomics.” HealthLink BC. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/tr5915
- “How to Make Your Computer Workstation Fit You.” WorkSafeBC. https://www.worksafebc.com/en/resources/health-safety/books-guides/how-to-make-your-computer-workstation-fit-you