What Common Injuries Do Therapists Experience On the Job?

physical therapist helping patient with injuries.

Workplace injuries are a common hazard in the health care industry. If you are a therapist, your risk of injuries will depend on the type of therapy that you provide and the proactive steps you take to ensure that your work environment is as safe as possible. For example, a psychologist and a physical therapist may be exposed to different types of injuries during their day-to-day practice due to the nature of their work. However, regardless of the type of therapy that you practice and the nature of the injury, the costs associated with the injury will likely be covered by your employer’s Workers’ Compensation policy.

If you are a physical therapist, you are likely on your feet all day, assisting patients with exercises, lifting heavy equipment, and doing a lot of bending and maneuvering to demonstrate exercises. This can put you at risk for a range of injuries, including the following:

  • Slip and fall injuries: There are a number of scenarios that can increase the risk of a slip and fall accident, including uneven flooring, spills, equipment like weights, chairs, and yoga balls that have not been returned to their proper place. Depending on the nature and severity of the accident, this can cause injuries ranging from sprains, strains, cuts, and broken bones. A serious injury can result in several days, weeks, or even months of missed work.
  • Back injuries: When you lift heavy equipment, help patients move from a seated position to standing, or spend long hours on your feet, it can cause significant strain on the back. Common back injuries range from minor aches and pains to herniated discs, which can be painful. If the pain is severe, it can be difficult to come to work and treat patients.
  • Repetitive stress injuries: These are injuries that are caused by repeated movement. Physical therapists are vulnerable to this type of injury due to the nature of their work. Some of the most common repetitive stress injuries that affect physical therapists include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and tenosynovitis.
  • Shoulder injuries: Physical therapists often put a great deal of strain on their shoulders, particularly when repeatedly lifting heavy objects or lifting patients who need assistance getting from a seated to a standing position. A serious shoulder injury may require time off from work to treat the injury. In addition, a more severe injury may require surgery, followed by extensive physical therapy and time off from work.

How Can Physical Therapists Avoid Workplace Injuries?

As a physical therapist, there are a range of proactive steps you can incorporate into your daily routine that can help prevent common workplace injuries, including the following:

  • Incorporate a number of stretches before each session and throughout the day. If you are using certain parts of the body during a session, make sure that you use the proper form, and stretch those muscles after the session or at the end of the day.
  • Stay physically fit. Get regular exercise and incorporate full body conditioning into your weekly routine. This can reduce the risk of muscle strains and other musculoskeletal injuries.
  • Maintain the appropriate joint-specific strength for the particular task you are performing with a client.
  • Maintain body awareness, the correct posture, and limit loading edges of joint range of motion
  • Keep the workspace clean and free of any hazards that could increase the risk of slips, trips, or falls.

What Are Common Signs of Occupational Stress?

Work-related stress can have a range of negative consequences. By recognizing some of the common warning signs associated with occupational stress, you can take proactive steps to address them and prevent them from progressing into something serious. The following are common symptoms of occupational stress:

  • Anxiety.
  • Chronic irritability.
  • Loss of pleasure in one’s job.
  • Inability to focus or concentrate.
  • Becoming forgetful.
  • Increase in clinical errors.
  • Less interactions with colleagues.
  • Become more reactive and less objective.

What Should Psychologists Do to Prevent Occupational Stress?

While the occupational hazards that you may experience as a mental health provider may not always be as obvious as a shoulder injury or a back injury, they can take a physical and emotional toll on your own physical and mental health, causing you to miss days or even weeks of work. You can protect your physical, mental, and emotional health by doing the following:

  • Take occupational health hazards seriously. It is important that you assess your own emotional and psychological well-being on a regular basis. If you start to feel burnt out, overwhelmed, stressed, depressed, or anxious, discuss these issues with another therapist or seek out other resources that can help.
  • Establish and maintain professional connections that provide you with the opportunity to discuss the nature of your work and the common stresses that you face. Model openness when having conversation with colleagues and students.
  • If you are facing particular clinical or professional challenges, seek advice and feedback from knowledgeable peers and experts.
  • Make sure that you establish a healthy work-life balance, and make personal and professional self-care a priority.

What Benefits Does Workers’ Compensation Provide?

Whether you suffered a physical injury like a back strain, a repetitive stress injury or a shoulder injury, or you are suffering from a mental or emotional health-related issue, you may be entitled to financial compensation by filing a Workers’ Compensation claim. Your employer’s Workers’ Compensation policy covers the following expenses:

  • All medical expenses associated with your injury, including ambulance services, hospitalization, surgeries, prescription medication, physical therapy, and counseling.
  • A portion of your lost wages.
  • Disability benefits if you are unable to return to work for an extended period of time.
  • The cost of equipment or medical devices that may be necessary to support your recovery.

Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Assist Therapists With the Claims Process

If you are a therapist and have been injured on the job, you are urged to contact our Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online. We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.