Physical Therapy and Work-Related InjuriesWorkers are often prescribed physical therapy to help with their work-related injuries. It is a preferred treatment because of its non-invasive techniques and proven results. One 2013 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine states that physical therapy is just as effective as surgery for certain knee problems, and the benefits of physical therapy for back pain have been widely reported.

However, physical therapy programs can also go on for months and be very costly.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) offers coverage for physical therapy for injured workers, but it's difficult to obtain approval for this treatment. To save money, the BWC may limit the number of sessions or may deny coverage altogether. Injured workers and their families should know, however, that an initial denial does not mean treatment is out of reach.

Doctors Often Prescribe Physical Therapy to Treat Work-Related Injuries

Physical therapy is the treatment of injury or disease through exercise, assistive devices, and patient education. This non-invasive therapy can be used on its own or with more intense medical interventions, such as surgery or medication. The goal of physical therapy depends upon the injury, but it aims to relieve pain, restore function, and increase strength. Physical therapy can be used to:

  • Improve movement after a muscle injury
  • Adapt to a new limb
  • Manage a chronic illness
  • Learn to use assistive devices
  • Improve balance
  • Prevent surgery
  • Prevent disability
  • Regain strength after an injury

What Your Treatment May Look Like

Every injured worker’s treatment plan will vary slightly, even for those who experience similar injuries. At the first appointment, you can expect to discuss the details of the injury and subsequent treatment with the physical therapist. Depending on your unique situation, you may go for therapy as little as once a week or as much as every day. During your sessions, therapy may include:

  • Stretching
  • Strength exercises
  • Biofeedback
  • Massage
  • Hot or cold therapy
  • Water therapy
  • Practice with assistive devices (such as crutches, canes, or walkers)
  • Breathing exercises

It is common for physical therapists to assign you “homework,” or exercises to be completed on your own between visits. These visits can take place in many locations, including your own home, physical therapy centers, or even at your place of employment. The duration of your treatment depends on the severity of the injury and how quickly the healing progresses.

What to Do If the BWC Won’t Authorize Physical Therapy for Your Work-Related Injury

Even though physical therapy is a medically sound method of treatment, it can be denied by the BWC because of the cost, the ongoing nature of treatment, and that its benefits are sometimes not evident for months or more.

If your doctor recommends physical therapy to treat your work injury, it is possible to file a successful claim with the BWC. At Monast Law Office, attorney Jim Monast has helped several injured workers state an effective case before the Ohio Industrial Commission to obtain access to physical therapy. His experience and skill during a hearing and the compelling medical and scientific evidence he presents, can help secure the ongoing treatment that will help you or someone you love move forward after injury.

To gain a better understanding of Ohio workers’ compensation laws we invite you to read our free book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio. Contact us today to begin your initial consultation with our workers' compensation lawyer.


James Monast
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Board-Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Columbus, Ohio