Work Hardening

Man Putting Down TileThe Comprehensive Occupational Rehabilitation Program or Work Hardening Program is a Joint Commission accredited outpatient care service within the Worker Assessment and Rehabilitation Center (WARC). Work Hardening is an interdisciplinary, outcomes-focused and individualized program, which addresses the medical, psychological, behavioral, physical, functional and vocational components of employability and return to work. The treatment team includes: physical and occupational therapists, rehabilitation counselor, vocational rehabilitation counselor/case manager and athletic trainers.

Work Hardening bridges the gap between initial acute injury management and return to work. We use a team approach to treatment and you may work with an occupational therapist, physical therapist, vocational counselor/case manager and psychologist.

This comprehensive program has three major components:

  1. Job Simulation - activities used to recreate the physical demands of your tasks at work.
  2. Fitness/Conditioning - combination of a fitness/aerobic equipment routine and individual exercises to improve your overall conditioning and endurance for work.
  3. Education - to help you understand your injury, the risk factors that contributed to your injury and ways to avoid a re-injury.

Injured workers participate in the program four hours per day; five days per week. Their average stay in the program is three to four weeks.

Services Provided

  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Vocational Rehabilitation/Work Adjustment Counseling
  • Case Management
  • Counseling Services (group and individual)
  • Job Task Simulation
  • Work Conditioning/Fitness
  • Injury Prevention Education
  • Body Mechanics Instruction
  • On-site Job Analysis/Ergonomics Consultation
  • Functional Capacity Evaluations

These services are provided at the Worker Assessment & Rehabilitation Center in Menomonee Falls by a Work Hardening Team: physical therapist, occupational therapist, vocational rehabilitation counselor/case manager and rehabilitation counselor.

The Work Hardening Program

The fitness center is fully equipped with Badger Magnum fitness equipment and aerobic exercise equipment (treadmills, bikes, Stairmasters, etc.). A Job Simulation area provides materials and equipment to simulate tasks requiring:

  • Material handling (conveyor, dollies, carts); 
  • Construction trades (hand and power tools, shoveling station, multi-workstation for drywall application, carpentry, electrical conduit work and plumbing); 
  • Production/manufacturing (small parts assembly equipment and fabricated job simulation equipment); 
  • Mechanical (BTE work simulator); 
  • Driving (BTE work simulator and vibrating truck seat simulator); 
  • Health care (hospital bed for transfer training); 
  • Fire/police/rescue personnel (rescue practice manikin with capacity to be weighted to 175 pounds) and more.

The Work Hardening program is accredited by WorkWell Systems’ Functional Capacity Evaluation V.2 — Therapist/Center Certification.

Expected Outcome

To maximize abilities to return to work or pursue alternative vocational goals, following a work-related injury or illness. These services result in an increase in strength, physical conditioning, ability to perform job tasks, endurance, ability to cope with job stress or loss, confidence to perform job tasks safely, using proper body mechanics and injury prevention techniques.


What is Joint Commission Accreditation?

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations

The Joint Commission is a highly respected certification that is offered only to hospitals that meet stringent national standards such as demonstrating a commitment to top quality care and safety. The Joint Commission is the world leader in evaluating both quality and safety in all types of healthcare settings. A Joint Commission certification is considered the "gold seal" of approval.