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Occupational Therapy – Great Return to Work Technique – Worth It?

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Occupational Therapy Can Be Worth The Expensive Costs

 Most Occupational Therapy programs provide a great return to work technique.

Many years ago when I was “riding” a WC claims desk, a file in New Hampshire had a type of provider I had not seen before in my career.  The physical therapist referred an injured employee to an Occupational Therapist.  

Picture Of Patient And Physician Occupational Therapy In Corridor
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I had thought this was just more physical therapy.  Reviewing the Occupation Therapist notes created a few surprises.  Some of the tasks were grabbing steel balls off a simulated conveyor belt and stacking these small blocks of wood into pre-cut patterns.  


This seemed to be a large unnecessary cost to the file.  I denied the bill upfront.  The conversation I had with the OT was tense, but enlightening.  After going through the complete Occupational Therapy plan for the injured employee, it was obvious that this type of therapy was valid and justified payment.  


The Department of Labor has a great webpage  on Occupational Therapists.  OT’s usually perform these tasks:

  • Observe patients doing tasks, ask the patient questions, and review the patient’s medical history

    Logo of Department of Labor Occupational Therapy USA
    Wikipedia commons – U.S. Department of Labor
  • Use the observations, answers, and medical history to evaluate the patient’s condition and needs
  • Establish a treatment plan for patients, laying out the types of activities and specific goals to be accomplished
  • Help people with various disabilities with different tasks, such as helping an older person with poor memory use a computer, or leading an autistic child in play activities
  • Demonstrate exercises that can help relieve pain for people with chronic conditions, such as joint stretches for arthritis sufferers
  • Evaluate a patient’s home or workplace and identify how it can be better suited to the patient’s health needs
  • Educate a patient’s family and employer about how to accommodate and care for the patient
  • Recommend special equipment, such as wheelchairs and eating aids, and instruct patients how to use that equipment
  • Assess and record patients’ activities and progress for evaluating clients, for billing, and for reporting to physicians and other healthcare providers
  • The injured employee from New Hampshire with a saw cut injury to his hand returned to work after being out of work for 4 months  on modified duty that became his full time job.  In my humble opinion, the OT plan should be read by any personnel (adjusters, supervisors, auditors, etc.) involved in the file.  

The return on investment on the file was 8 to 1 when looking at the reserve reduction versus the amount the OT charged for her services.  OT has become more popular and understood over the years.  Sometimes, the adjuster may have to bring up referring the injured employee to OT.   

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James Moore

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Mgmt Consultants, Inc. in 1996. J&L’s mission is to reduce our clients’ Workers Compensation premiums by using time-tested techniques. J&L’s claims, premium, reserve and Experience Mod reviews have saved employers over $9.8 million in earned premiums over the last three years. J&L has saved numerous companies from bankruptcy proceedings as a result of insurance overpayments.

James has over 27 years of experience in insurance claims, audit, and underwriting, specializing in Workers’ Compensation. He has supervised, and managed the administration of Workers’ Compensation claims, and underwriting in over 45 states. His professional experience includes being the Director of Risk Management for the North Carolina School Boards Association. He created a very successful Workers’ Compensation Injury Rehabilitation Unit for school personnel.

James’s educational background, which centered on computer technology, culminated in earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA); an Associate in Claims designation (AIC); and an Associate in Risk Management designation (ARM). He is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a licensed financial advisor. The NC Department of Insurance has certified him as an insurance instructor. He also possesses a Bachelors’ Degree in Actuarial Science.

LexisNexis has twice recognized his blog as one of the Top 25 Blogs on Workers’ Compensation. J&L has been listed in AM Best’s Preferred Providers Directory for Insurance Experts – Workers Compensation for over eight years. He recently won the prestigious Baucom Shine Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer contributions to the area of risk management and safety. James was recently named as an instructor for the prestigious Insurance Academy.

James is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the North Carolina Mid-State Safety Council. He has published two manuals on Workers’ Compensation and three different claims processing manuals. He has also written and has been quoted in numerous articles on reducing Workers’ Compensation costs for public and private employers. James publishes a weekly newsletter with 7,000 readers.

He currently possess press credentials and am invited to various national Workers Compensation conferences as a reporter.

James’s articles or interviews on Workers’ Compensation have appeared in the following publications or websites:

  • Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS)
  • Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Bloomberg Business News
  • WorkCompCentral.com
  • Claims Magazine
  • Risk & Insurance Magazine
  • Insurance Journal
  • Workers Compensation.com
  • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites
  • Various trade publications

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