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Repetitive motion injuries and the potential for career changes

When you know how to do something and get good at it, you can experience the psychological phenomenon known as flow. Flow occurs when you feel so immersed in the task at hand that you don't notice the passage of time or much of what happens around you. During flow, people often experience intense productivity and creativity. They may not even notice the aches and pains that come from performing the same work every day.

Unfortunately, the longer you have been at your job, the more likely you are to wind up hurt from the work that you do. Even if the job itself is not inherently dangerous, using your body to repeatedly perform the same task day after day causes damage to muscles and connective tissue. These kinds of injuries that accrue over time are repetitive motion injuries, and they can happen to all kinds of workers.

Anyone from an office worker who types and sits to a factory worker who lifts and twists could wind up with debilitating repetitive motion injuries that can keep them from continuing to do their job.

Rest is an important part of repetitive motion injury care

When a part of your body becomes sore and inflamed due to overuse, the only real way to allow the pain and inflammation to subside is to let that part of the body rest. The longer you have been at your job and the more severe the repetitive motion injury, the longer the time you will need to rest your injured extremity or limb.

In some cases, with rest, treatment and therapy, people can return to work without exacerbating the existing injury. Other times, a repetitive motion injury may do permanent damage that will keep a person from staying in the same job in the future.

Your employer should work with you, if possible

Those dealing with repetitive motion injuries often need to undergo physical therapy or occupational therapy to return to work. In addition to treating the symptoms of the injury, the therapist can also teach people about their body mechanics and ergonomics to reduce the risk of further injury or exacerbating existing problems. Sometimes, assistive technology ranging from wrist support in front of the keyboard to back braces for those who lift can reduce pain and injury risk.

Other times, it becomes necessary for workers to change the tasks they perform. Your employer should do their best to move you to new responsibilities that have less impact on your injury and allow you to comply with doctors' orders. If you are unable to perform any of the common tasks at your place of employment without exacerbating your injury, you may need to seek temporary disability benefits while you recover.

For those who cannot return to the same position after treatment and care, permanent disability benefits, including permanent partial disability benefits that close the gap between what you once earned and what you now earn, can be incredibly helpful. Workers' compensation can help cover the cost of your medical care and the time you missed from work. In some cases, you can also rely on workers' compensation for the training you need to pursue a new career due to a workplace injury.

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