Tips on Returning to Work after a Hand Injury

by | Oct 13, 2022 | Blog

Returning to work after having had trauma to your hand or after having been diagnosed with a repetitive hand injury can be a daunting task and might evoke feelings on insecurity, uncertainty and fear for both the employee and employer. Here are our top ten tips on returning to work:

1. Find out about your expected recovery

Find out what the recovery period is for your particular injury and when you will be able to perform certain tasks. Your doctor or Occupational Therapist will be able to guide you in terms of the healing process and when you can expect to start doing certain tasks. This will help you and your employer to have realistic expectations in terms of when you can return to modified duty or full duty.

2. Communicate with your employer

When you have been injured or diagnosed with a condition, it is helpful to let your employer know what is going on and update them regularly. Employers who are educated on what your recover is likely to look like, are generally far more likely to accommodate your needs if they are able to. You may also want to inform your employer what is expected in terms of doctor and therapy follow-ups, so they know when you’ll be required to be out of the office/off the job

3. Know your rights and responsibilties

Familiarize yourself with the Labour Act and the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act as well as your employment contract. It’s helpful to know what the law requires of you and your employer in terms of injuries that occur on duty as well as sick leave regulations.

4. Manage your pain

Manage your pain well in the beginning and throughout your recovery. Your doctor can prescribe the appropriate medication and an occupational therapist can assist you with non-pharmaceutical modalities to manage your pain. Early pain control is associated with  earlier return to work.

5. Do things differently

Make use of adaptations and alternative methods of performing tasks when you do return to work for the initial period if you need it. For example, if you do a lot of computer typing, a programme that transcribes your voice, might just be the thing that helps you with the transition back to work when your hand quite cannot manage 8 hours (or more) of typing

7. Allow yourself space to recover

Give yourself the necessary tender love and care.  When returning to work it is important to remember that you likely still be recovering physically and emotionally from your injury. Give yourself the space, rest and self-care needed to aid your overall recovery.

8. Ask for help

If you are struggling with a particular task at work or the demands the job has on your recovering hand, ask for help from your employer and/or colleagues.

9. Deal with your anxiety

It may be helpful and recommended to seek psychological support when planning your return to work, particularly if the injury occurred at work. Even if you not going back to working on the same piece of equipment, there may be some anxiety about being in the work environment again, or simply being exposed to sounds/sights that you associated with your injury. There may even be some anxiety about the physical capabilities of your hand and the potential of re-injury. An occupational therapist may be able to advise on some coping strategies.

9. Do hand warm-ups

Do some stretches and hand “warm-up exercises” (if appropriate) in preparation for the work that is required of your hands. Stretches and warm-ups throughout the day can also help manage some of the stiffness, and muscle fatigue you may experience in the early days of returning to work

10. Strengthen appropriately

Work together with your occupational therapist to do some work specific strengthening and endurance exercises. This can assist in making sure you can cope with the demands on your return to work
The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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