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Work Hardening vs. Work Conditioning

Home News & Videos JAG Physical Therapy Blog Work Hardening vs. Work Conditioning

After suffering an injury on the job, you are not always able to go back to doing things the way you were used to. The injury weakens the body leading to a loss of strength, and if the body never recovers properly, the worker may never be able to return to their job again. Luckily, there are programs that can give the worker the proper training to regain their full strength and return to the job they love!

According to the APTA, the purpose of these return-to-work programs is to help progress an injured worker’s tolerance of job or occupation-specific physical stresses. There are two kinds of these programs, Work Hardening & Work Conditioning. Both programs are designed to individualize a treatment plan and make sure the worker can return to their normal activities. Although they may sound the same, there are significant differences between the two programs.

What is Work Hardening?

Work hardening is a highly structured program specifically designed to help patients return to their pre-injury work level. Work hardening is multidisciplinary, meaning it not only works on recovering the body but also works on returning the worker's frame of mind prior to their injury.

Work hardening programs:

  • Multidisciplinary
  • 7-8 hours per day
  • 5 days a week
  • Mimic exact tasks of your job
  • Include educational sessions
  • Psychological and behavioral management

What is Work Conditioning?

Work Conditioning programs address the physical issues of flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination, and work-related function for a successful return to work. The program is meant to limit the amount of time lost at work.

Work Conditioning programs:

  • Single discipline
  • 2 hours per day
  • 1-5 days a week
  • 1/3 cardio-based
  • 1/3 work specific
  • 1/3 general

JAG Physical Therapy is proud to offer Work Conditioning Programs at all of our over 100 locations throughout NY, NJ, & PA. For more information or to make an appointment to meet with one of our licensed physical therapists please contact us here.

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