Managed Physical Medicine

I’m Scheduled for Work Hardening or Work Conditioning. Now What?

As part of our Patient Advocacy Program, MedRisk is committed to informing injured workers on what they can expect when they’re scheduled for workers’ comp-related tests and procedures.

This post is designed to help patients prepare for work hardening or work conditioning. It should not be considered medical advice; if you have specific questions, you should contact your physician or case manager.

What is it?

Work hardening and work conditioning – the phrases are often used synonymously – is typically the last phase of a physical therapy or occupational therapy treatment plan before the patient returns to the job. They use simulated work tasks (which vary depending on the patient’s place of employment) for a safe transition back to the demands of the job, and to prevent re-injury.

What to expect

Pre-exam questions

  • You’ll be asked to describe your duties at work, so the physical therapist can design a WH/WC program that mimics them. If you have access to your job description, you should provide it.

What to wear

  • For the first WH/WC visit – typically an evaluation of your condition – wear loose, comfortable clothing.
  • For subsequent visits, wear what you’d typically wear to work. If you have special accessories or gear – like a tool belt or hard hat – bring them with you.

About the program

  • Work hardening and work conditioning are rather intensive processes; they typically consist of 3-5 sessions each week for 2-8 weeks.
  • You can expect each session to last 2-4 hours.