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Back on Both Feet– Fitness and Recovery

- April 14, 2014 by Leslie Stoll, CSP, ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

I had surgery on my foot a few weeks ago but I’m back to work on limited duty because my recovery is going well.  Some would say I’m lucky, but it has nothing to do with luck.   Being healthy going into surgery is helping me recover quickly and it has financial benefits too.

My recovery will be speedier and cheaper because I am healthy.  The cost of my procedure will not be escalated by specialized medical testing and treatment, extra medication, or in-patient hospital costs.    I will have standard follow up treatment post surgery and I don’t expect to have any complications.

In the event of an employee injury, your worker’s compensation costs can be less if the injured employee is healthy and fit.  In some cases, it can mean the difference between no medical treatment and weeks of therapy.  Imagine if your healthiest employee slipped and fell.  Now compare that to your most unhealthy employee having the same incident.  The outcomes are probably going to be very different.

Comorbidity is the term used to describe when disorders such as diabetes or obesity have an effect on another injury or condition such as a broken bone.  Those effects are often negative resulting in complications to the treatment process.  A recent study presented at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons Annual Meeting in March 2014 “links additional patient comorbidities to increases in hospital length of stay and charges for total knee arthroplasty” (Brockenbrough, 2014).  However, the results of the study apply to more than just knee surgery, our claims department has reported that comorbidity factors affect patient recovery for any type of claim.

A dramatic example of how fitness can improve recovery is seen in U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery from her bullet shot to the head.   Her fitness levels have significantly helped her recovery process (Lloyd, 2014).

Hopefully you are already working with your ICW Group Risk Management Consultant to reduce your frequency of incidents. But, if something does happen, wouldn’t it better if you didn’t have to pay more because your employee was unhealthy? Employee wellness is a process that doesn’t have to be complicated and can save big money in the long run.   ICW Group offers wellness topics in mySafetynews and in the RMRx Safety Advisor to help you to broach the topic of wellness and motivate your employees into a healthy lifestyle.


Brockenbrough, Gina. “Study: Added Comorbidities Increases in Length of Stay, Costs after TKA.” healio.com. Healio, 13 Mar. 2014. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. http://www.healio.com/orthopedics/business-of-orthopedics/news/online/%7B7a77b7b6-5074-47dc-a9c6-25fcd4ec159e%7D/study-added-comorbidities-increases-in-length-of-stay-costs-after-tka

Lloyd, Janice. “For Rep. Giffords, Fitness Level Bodes Well for Recovery – USATODAY.com.” USATODAY.com. USA Today, 25 January 2011. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/yourlife/fitness/exercise/2011-01-26-fitness26_st_N.htm