Researchers are looking for ways to predict risk factors for a positive (or negative) return-to-work result. Identifying patients at risk for poor results is one way to approach this problem.
In one recent study over 3,000 patients with work-related injuries were studied. Pain levels before and after rehab were used as one significant measure. It turns out that increasing pain levels is a predictor of several things.
First higher pain levels before rehab are linked with drop out rates from rehab. And patients with poor rehab results are less likely to get back to work. So there's some evidence that improving rehab outcomes is a good way to go.
Rehab that lasts longer with longer patient follow-up is one idea. A multimodal approach to rehab is another way to improve return-to-work results. Rehab that includes counseling, fitness, and patient education gives better results. Close supervision for longer periods of time seems to help, too.
Patients with extreme pain after rehab are much less likely to return to work. Efforts to control or manage pain early on seem to be an important key to success. This approach takes a united effort of everyone on the health care team to accomplish.