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Evaluating a return to work following a burn injury

A traumatic injury at work often requires taking time off for treatment and recovery. Severe or extensive burn injuries might require weeks to months of recovery, and it can be hard to tell if you're ready to return to work. At the same time, getting back into the work saddle can help you move on with recovery and seek normalcy in your life.

One of the first steps to evaluating a return to work following a burn injury is to talk about the possibility with your health care providers. Your doctors and therapists can guide you on how much and what type of work is appropriate for each stage in your recovery. Remember: Just because you feel well doesn't mean you're ready for eight hours of labor a day, and getting back to full-time work too soon could result in slowing recovery or relapse.

In addition to physical care, consider seeking professional help with mental or emotional issues associated with your injuries. A severe injury is a traumatic experience, and emotions associated with the event could be triggered by a return to work. Be prepared to deal with such emotions before you start working again.

Work with your employer to understand what options are available to you. Your injury might not allow full-time work or a return to the same position you previously occupied. Documentation from your health care provider can help your employer offer appropriate work for the stage of recovery you are in.

Finally, always remember that you have some rights as a worker injured on the job. Understanding how those rights extends beyond compensation and claims for injuries is important.

Source: Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center, "Employment after Burn Injury," Shelley A. Wiechman, Ph.D., and Sabina Brych, accessed Nov. 18, 2015

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