Work therapy (WT) and Work Hardening are activities that use equipment designed to incorporate hand and upper extremity function in purposeful activities. The goal for patients performing work therapy is to return to previous levels of function in activities of daily living (ADL), work related tasks or hobbies.
The Hand Therapist establishes a personalized WT program. A series of therapeutic activities are designed to build strength, endurance and increase functional ability. These activities are gradually progressed by increasing the resistance and duration of the effort.
WT involves the patient in purposeful activity that provides immediate gratification. It also prepares the patient for everyday physical demands as well as a prompt return to gainful employment. WT will enable patients to meet demands of occupations that were previously performed prior to injury.
The BTE (Baltimore Therapeutic Equipment) is a specific tool commonly used to perform work therapy. The BTE can be used for isometric and isotonic evaluations as well as daily treatment and ergonomic analysis. Several attachments are available that enable proper simulation of job tasks or daily activities which have been affected by injury.
A Work Therapy program usually takes 2-3 months, but varies a great deal from person to person, depending on goals and ability.