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Workers with back injuries and a high risk of job-related disability may benefit from early interdisciplinary intervention. In a controlled pilot study, researchers compared conventional workers' compensation case management with early, interdisciplinary intervention in workers who had subacute back injuries. Some workers had a high risk of disability; others had a moderate risk.
Three months after the onset of back pain, the study found no statistical difference regarding when workers in the four groups returned to work. But after 6 months, high-risk workers who received early, interdisciplinary care returned to work more quickly than high-risk workers who received conventional case management. Even after 6 months, no statistical difference existed between the two groups of moderate-risk workers. Determining the long-term effects of early, multidisciplinary intervention will require more research.
Source: Schultz IZ, et al. A prospective study of the effectiveness of early intervention with high-risk back-injured workers: A pilot study. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation. 18(2):140-151, June 2008.
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