Rehabilitation after workers compensation lumbar fusion can be a slow process during which temporary total disability benefits are paid to you. Many surgeons prescribe outpatient physical therapy beginning about six weeks after surgery. This delay is needed to make sure the fusion is taking. You will probably need to attend therapy sessions for two to three months. Total healing can take 8 to 12 months. Therapy can usually progress faster in patients who had an instrumented fusion.
At first, treatments help control pain and inflammation. Ice and electrical stimulation treatments are commonly used to help with these goals. Your therapist may also use massage and other hands-on techniques to ease muscle spasm and pain.
Active treatments are slowly added. These include exercises for improving heart and lung function. Short, slow walks are generally safe to start with after posterior lumbar fusion. Swimming and use of a stair-climbing machine are helpful in the later phases of treatment. Therapists also teach patients specific exercises to help tone and control the muscles that stabilize the low back.
Your physical therapist also works with you on how to move and do activities. This form of treatment, called body mechanics, is used to help you develop new movement habits. This training helps you keep your back in safe positions as you go about your work and daily activities. Training includes positions you use when sitting, lying, standing, and walking. You’ll also work on safe body mechanics for lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling.
As your condition improves, the physical therapist tailors your program to help prepare you to go back to work. Some patients are not able to go back to a previous job that requires strenuous tasks. Your physical therapist may suggest changes in job tasks that enable you to go back to your previous job or to do alternate forms of work. You’ll learn to do these tasks in new ways that keep your back safe and free of strain. Before your physical therapy sessions end, your therapist will teach you how to avoid future problems.
Some injured workers are referred to work hardening after a workers compensation lumbar fusion. This is especially true in physical jobs like construction, warehouse work, manufacturing and nursing care.
If an employee cannot return to his or her job following a lumbar fusion, then the attorneys at McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin go for workers compensation benefits called loss of earning capacity or permanent disability. We get the best workers comp lumbar fusion settlements when the surgeon backs up the patient that the surgery was work-related and any post-surgery permanent work restrictions are also due to the on the job accident or job duties over time.