October 2001 Bulletin

Course to focus on occupational orthopaedics

Return to work, occupational health and ergonomics are three topics that are important to the orthopaedic surgeon who treats a significant number of work-related injuries, says Mark Melhorn, MD.

"For the patient with a work injury, early appropriate return to work provides the physician the best opportunity to reduce disability and improve outcome," says Dr. Melhorn. "Just like for the athlete, accommodated activity and therapy provide muscles and tissues the best environment for healthy recovery while providing a more stable quality of life for the patient. Getting this message to the patient, however, can sometime be difficult."

Dr. Melhorn explains that occupational health blends education and training for the individual about the workplace. Orthopaedists are already familiar with this balance for prevention of athletic injury, Dr. Melhorn says. He observes that "many of the same approaches, which can include physical conditioning and exercises, are also effective in the workplace injury."

Ergonomics in the workplace remains an unresolved issue, Dr. Melhorn says. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao has held three public forums on what is an ergonomics injury and what is the appropriate response.

These subjects will be discussed at the Academy’s CME course "Occupational Orthopaedics and Workers’ Compensation: A Multidisciplinary Perspective" to be held in Las Vegas, Nev. November 2-4, 2001. Dr. Melhorn and Joseph S. Barr Jr., MD, are chairmen.

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