Serious injuries or illnesses can knock us out of commission. When we’re ready to rejoin the working world after disability leave, we may need a little help.
No, we’re not talking casseroles from neighbors (although those are appreciated!), but some technical TLC that may literally have our backs.
“When your spirit is ready but your body is still weak, workers may need some job or worksite modifications to help get back to work,” said Julie Degenhardt, a senior vocational rehabilitation consultant for employee benefits provider Unum. “Different types of equipment, clothing and devices – generally referred to as ‘adaptive technologies’ – can offer head-to-toe support.”
These adaptive tools help workers who may need some relief from lifting heavy loads, or extra support if they have jobs that keep them on their feet, or even sight or sound amplifiers.
Here are some examples:
Prism glasses that eliminate the need for head movement so you can continue to read or use a keyboard without getting a neck cramp or eyestrain. These are ideal for people with a cerebral vascular accident or traumatic brain injury.
Sit-stand desks or stools for people with musculoskeletal disorders or leg and back pain.
Z-Coil shoes that help people in sales, healthcare or retail stand or walk for longer periods of time.
Cooling vests to help keep body temperature constant for people who may be at risk of heat stress, like construction workers or kitchen personnel.
Ergonomic arm rests to provide support for the forearm and relieve muscle strain and tension from the neck and shoulder area. This is ideal for people with lymph edema related to breast cancer or for shoulder injuries.
Large print keyboards for those with impaired vision.
Pow-R-Grip for tools like mops, brooms or shovels to help people with low back pain, degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis.
White noise machine to help the individual focus on the job task and not be distracted by office chatter and noises. This can help with symptoms associated with depression or anxiety.
“Everyday I’m working with people who need a little extra help to get back into their work routine as they continue to recover from illness or injury,” Degenhardt said. “With some inexpensive tools or modifications, it becomes much easier to resume work responsibilities. And that feeling of normalcy and productivity can be the best boost to recovery.”