Graded-Activity Rehabilitation Speeds
Return to Work
Employees who miss work because of low back pain and undergo
a type of rehabilitation called graded activity return to their
jobs sooner than employees who receive traditional rehabilitation,
according to the findings of a new study.
During the study, researchers identified 134 airline employees
who had missed a significant amount of work because of low back
pain. Half were randomly assigned to undergo traditional rehabilitation
and half participated in graded-activity rehabilitation. Graded
activity included supervised exercise sessions twice a week,
while traditional rehabilitation consisted of advising the person
on how to prevent injury and developing a return-to-work schedule.
Over six months, people in the graded-activity group missed
58 days of work, while those in the traditional rehabilitation
group missed 87 days. Severity of pain was the same in both groups.
The researchers concluded that graded activity enables quicker
return to work but more research is needed to determine its long-term
role in rehabilitation.
The author of a related editorial stated that although the results
are encouraging, longer follow-up is needed to find out how graded
activity affects factors other than reduction in work days, such
as job performance.
Annals of Internal Medicine
Volume 140, page 77
January 20, 2004