Walking (and lifting) a mile in a worker’s shoes. Hicksons get assessed!

Key Points
  • The process of assessment is highly focused on not extending a person beyond their limitations;
  • Comprehensive evidence is obtained of a person’s functional ability covering a range of different movement types, relevant to physical rehabilitation and return to work;
  • Full explanation of all of the different types of movement assessed is recommended to demonstrate how the assessment can benefit all parties including workers, insurers and decision makers.

Our newest Partner, Doyle Myles, recently attended a full physical and functional assessment to gain a better understanding of a worker's experience when they are participating in assessments for the claims process or litigation.
In physical personal injury claims the extent of a worker’s physical abilities will impact how quickly they can return to work, how safely their return can be managed, and the appropriate treatments for that individual. Insurers or employers often have this independently assessed to ensure best practice, but also to correctly assess quantum of entitlements to compensation or damages.
However, unless you have had your own claim (which hopefully you haven’t, because that means you have been injured), what exactly happens during the assessment process can be a bit of an unknown.  The process could possibly seem a bit daunting and some workers feel they are under scrutiny or required to repeatedly prove how injured they are.
With this in mind Hicksons wanted to get a better appreciation of what workers in the personal injury space actually go through. Procare were recently kind enough to take the chance to put us through our paces, and Doyle Myles was put through a full physical and functional assessment. This was designed to gain a better understanding of a worker's experience when they are participating in these assessments. Assessing just how far Doyle’s physical fitness has slid over the years was only a secondary part of the assessment.
Doyle underwent a 90 min functional assessment, and was put through a full battery of stretching, movement, grip strength, lifting multiple weights, carrying multiple weights, walking with different items, pushing, pulling, reaching overhead and bending down low.
It was illustrative to experience the process first hand. With every exercise Procare’s expert started at the lightest weight, well below a person’s likely tolerance, and very slowly and gradually worked up to Doyle’s maximum ability [Editor – which we presume didn’t take long].  The assessment was closely monitored and, if a participant’s ego or ambitions should run away with them (not that this occurred in Doyle’s case), the qualified assessor was there to halt the assessment when it appeared that a functional tolerance was about to be reached.
The process was informative because it was carried out in a very understanding and supportive environment and the extent of the testing was very comprehensive.  Because a person’s tolerances are so carefully monitored, the assessments last quite a while. The length was actually reassuring, because it means a worker would not feel as though they are being rushed through. Instead, they would be very slowly and gradually built up to their tolerance. 
We left the assessment with the impression that the functional assessment is quite useful for all parties. It should provide a worker a measure of confidence that their concerns and that a return to work would certainly be within their safe limits. It should provide a treating doctor with confidence that a comprehensive assessment, by qualified specialists, has been undertaken. It should also provide insurers/employers useful information on a range of tasks a person can do.
And it confirmed that with Doyle’s fitness levels, he is unlikely to be leaving Hicksons to try and make a career as a sportsperson anytime soon [Editor – apart from mixed netball, at which he tells anyone prepared to listen, he excels].

Post by Doyle Myles and Stewart Cameron [Editor]

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