TSAOG Interview with Chris Kean

The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group (TSAOG) recently opened its WorkSmart Industrial Rehab Clinic, which focuses on physical and behavioral rehabilitation of injured workers.

TOA recently conducted a Q&A with Chris Kean, the chief operating officer of TSAOG, to learn more about the clinic.

TOA: What is the “WorkSmart Industrial Rehab Clinic”?

Chris Kean: WorkSmart Industrial Rehab Clinic focuses exclusively on the physical and behavioral rehabilitation of injured workers. Our goal is to return employees to the workplace in a safe and rapid manner using job-specific rehabilitation techniques.

The idea came about as we started to take a deeper dive into our population of patients that were coming to us with work related injuries.  We noticed an increasing amount of patients coming in from all sizes of organizations, and both the injured worker and employer wanted a reliable, medically supervised program to re-introduce them back in to the work environment after injury.

Our team is comprised of licensed professionals providing high quality physical and behavioral care in a rehabilitation setting that simulates the patients’ unique work environment. We work directly with the employer to gain specific information regarding job duties and a description of the physical working environment. We then craft an individualized program for that employee so they may successfully rejoin the workforce in a safe manner.

As an example, imagine an injured police officer who suffered a work-related injury and was off duty for several weeks. After treatment, and when the officer is ready to return to work, they may be deconditioned, and/or have certain limitations when performing their normal duties which could put the officer at risk for re-injury or worse. We will work one-on-one with the officer to perform general strength and conditioning exercises that may include utilizing a treadmill, stationary bike, lifting heavy objects, bending and twisting activities, and other modalities, for an entire day, sometimes five days per week up to a four-week period of time, to prepare them for re-entry into the police force.

We are proud to offer a program to our community that allows for a unique and seamless integration of admission, diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and discharge process designed specifically for injured workers. In creating this program, we provide a smarter, more effective way of rehabilitating work-related injuries that is specific to their needs as well as the employers by reducing lost work time and returning a conditioned, “work ready” employee. Hence the name, WorkSmart.

We currently offer:

Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCEs) – a screening method used to determine an employee’s ability to function in various job-related circumstances and tasks. This testing is typically four to five hours long and is used to gauge an employee’s ability to return to work.

Work Hardening – A program that simulates a worker’s specific job functions to help reintroduce the employee into the work environment.  This program includes both a physical and psychosocial component, where we have a licensed professional counselor available to assist with any stress factors experienced by the injured worker.

Work Conditioning Services – A four to seven hour per day program spread over four weeks that requires an employee to clock in and complete work-related tasks to prepare them for their return to work.  During these hours, the employee will focus on intensive conditioning and strengthening exercises to mirror the demands in the workplace.

TOA: Did you all work with local employers to develop this? How have San Antonio employers responded?

Chris Kean: Although we have not worked directly with local employers to develop the service line, we have and will continue to take their feedback into consideration as we expand our offerings. We are diligently working on providing an open-ended communication line with San Antonio and surrounding area employers to make sure we are meeting expectations and continuing to push the envelope in regard to what’s next.  The response has been great thus far, which energizes us to continue improving care for our workforce community.

TOA: Do similar models exist?

Chris Kean: There are organizations that offer similar type of work-related services, however, they do not integrate the kind of orthopaedic-specific care nor the infrastructure that TSAOG’s WorkSmart program brings to the table.