White Paper: How Physical Therapy Breaks Down Psychosocial Barriers to Recovery

It has become well understood that a broad range of biological, psychological and social factors impact an injured worker’s recovery. Recent shifts in the industry – especially in light of the pandemic – have heightened focus on how we can better identify and address psychosocial issues in particular.

Unlike physical ailments like bruises, psychosocial setbacks are usually invisible, but their impact on an injured worker’s recovery as well as healthcare utilization costs are prominent. That’s why claims organizations are working to adapt to help practitioners identify these factors – the earlier the better. Unless someone asks questions and makes observation as a part of the intake process of a claim, these factors will continue to go unnoticed and workers’ time to recovery will continue to suffer.

In this white paper – in partnership with Risk & Insurance – Brian Peers, VP of Clinical Services & Provider Management, MedRisk, and Jean Feldman, RN, BSN, Director of Managed Care, Workers’ Compensation Claims for Sentry Insurance, discuss the critical role physical therapists play in not only treating physical injuries but also identifying biopsychosocial factors that could impact recovery.

PTs are well-equipped to make a difference in this area for two key reasons:

  1. Physicians do not spend enough time with injured workers to develop a close enough connection with them to identify and address psychosocial issues.
  2. PTs do – they have the opportunity to build trust and engage in meaningful conversations about how the injured worker is doing, not just as a patient, but as a person, during appointments.

“If someone’s feeling like, ‘I don’t want to move because I think it’s going to hurt,’ who better to help them through that than someone who’s an expert in recovery?” explained Peers. “So not a psychologist, not an orthopedic surgeon, but someone whose specialty is recovery.”

Peers and Feldman also provide insights on bridging the mind-body connection and the importance of compassion for an injured worker’s circumstances – and, simply put, doing the right thing.

As Feldman said: “If we do the right things, it will help that individual get back to work, recover faster, recover safely. It’ll help our employers decrease their costs. We’re all in this together.”

To read the full white paper, click here