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March 31, 2016

Recovering from a Workplace Injury

fall from a ladder
In 2014 there were nearly 3.0 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses among employees working in private industry, an injury rate of 3.2 cases per 100 full-time workers, according to Bureau of Labor data. Over half of these cases involved days away from work. If you're in this situation, you know how challenging it can be, physically, emotionally and financially. Here are some guidelines to help you endure this trying period and get back on your feet.

Cover Medical Bills
Report All Accidents

Apart from attending to immediate injuries, one of your initial priorities should be making sure your medical bills are covered. The symptoms of some injuries don't show up immediately, and most states give you a limited time to report injuries and still receive workplace compensation. Workplace compensation covers you even if your own negligence caused the injury, so even if you're not sure you're injured or you think it's not your employer's fault, you should report workplace injuries right away, says writer Anne Lane.

You should also see a doctor as soon as possible. Go to an emergency room if your injury
requires it; otherwise, make an appointment. Ask for a copy of the claim your employer files. If you encounter problems, consult an attorney experienced in workplace compensation.

Establish a Recovery Routine

Setting aside a time to engage in physical exercise is key to making the transition back into a healthy routine. Your medical professional may prescribe some therapeutic exercises. Always follow medical orders, and work to get into a regular habit of exercising at a specified time.

fitness trail
Your exercises do not need to be extremely intense, nor do they have to be long, just consistent. If you don't have a leg injury, try walking. If you're unable to get up, you can do chair or bed exercises or even breathing or meditation exercises that don't require movement. You should push yourself to do as much as you're able, but not to the point of extreme pain. A good rule of thumb is doing two-thirds of what you're capable of doing, which will keep you from pushing yourself to the point of injury. Taking adequate rest periods is also important, stresses science writer and massage therapist Paul Ingraham. As with weight resistance training, rest is as important to your progress as working out. However, you shouldn't overdo rest to the point you don't exercise. Aim to strike a balance between resting and exercising, Ingraham recommends.

Manage Finances

You might be taking a break from work for a while, but your bills will still be coming, so it's important to keep on top of your budget. If you don't already have a monthly budget, now is a great time to create one.

A good simple budgeting guideline is the 50/20/30 rule, which allocates 50 percent of your monthly budget toward fixed expenses such as rent and insurance, 20 percent toward repaying debt and saving, and 30 percent toward discretionary spending. Budget your worker's compensation accordingly, and use a portion of your savings to start building an emergency savings fund that will sustain you in the event you don't get back to work immediately or you have unexpected costs.

Get Ready to Return to Work

if you use drugs don't apply
When you feel ready to return to work, hopefully you'll be able to return to your former employer, but if not, now is a good time to develop a job hunting strategy. Don't limit yourself to popular online job boards, but make a list of companies you'd like to work for and go directly to the job application sections on their sites. Most companies now have a career opportunities section on their sites. Don't be surprised if it takes you a while to get used to being back at work. Often, you'll be ready to return to work before you're fully recovered from your injury. A study published in the journal "Quality of Life Research" found that only about 47 percent of injured workers are able to resume work normally right away, while 16 percent require recurrent absences until full recovery.

If you've experienced a disabling injury at work or home, we hope these tips will help you make a strong recovery. 

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