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UVMC Work Therapy Program Helps Trimmer Return to Trees


2012 Workforce
Noah Osborne gets ready to return to his job in the WorkFORCE program.

When a knee injury grounded tree trimmer Noah Osborne, he was willing to go out on a limb to try to get back to work.

After surgery and physical therapy, Osborne still was not physically strong enough to return to his job with a company that works throughout the Dayton region. Asked if he’d be interested in an additional step – a work therapy program – Osborne was more than willing to give it a try.

That’s how he was introduced to UVMC WorkFORCE, an individualized program designed to help injured workers get back on the job.

Osborne began his work therapy at the WorkFORCE headquarters at the UVMC Outpatient Care Center/South in Troy in mid-October and graduated in February. In the program, he worked on rebuilding strength, engaged in indoor simulations of maneuvers needed for his work and climbed ladders in the therapy work room.

Soon, he was heading outdoors for reintroduction to his natural environment, first small trees and then the largest one – a hackberry – on the grounds of the Outpatient Care Center/South. That setting was key because the program tries to simulate the work environment as close as possible in its work hardening program, said Julie Zalar, WorkFORCE coordinator.

Osborne, a New Carlisle area resident, was the program’s first tree trimmer. “We individualize our approach to help get people back to work. We are not a cookie cutter business,” Zalar said.

An obviously pleased Osborne recently showed off the fruits of his labors at WorkFORCE, climbing the hackberry in his spiked logger boots and using his safety gear.

“My experience with WorkFORCE has been fantastic,” Osborne said. “I think my chances of success, of going back to work, would be dramatically different if I was not in this program. This has helped me more than any other phase, other than probably surgery, to get me back to work.”

Osborne, 30, dislocated his knee in a twisting maneuver on the job in late 2010. He had surgery, was on crutches five months and participated in prescribed physical therapy.  The therapy got him off crutches and walking again, but he’d lost a lot of strength, particularly in the injured leg. He said he loves his work and was anxious to work on getting back to it through the WorkFORCE program.

“I didn’t know what to expect. I knew what I wanted goal-wise, but I didn’t know how to get there. WorkFORCE helped me verbalize my goals,” he said.

The work began five days a week, a half day at a time, with Osborne using weights and following a cardio workout in addition to the indoor movement exercises followed by the outdoor climbing.

“We have really tried to work together on solutions here. My doctor’s happy. Workers’ comp is happy. I’m happy,” he said.

Zalar explained that WorkFORCE acts as a middle party between the client, the doctor and workers compensation. The program deals with the physical and mental aspects of a person going back to work. A client’s improvement has a lot to do with their personal motivation, Zalar and Osborne agreed. 

“If you come in here with the right attitude, want to work, the will get you where you want to be,” he said. Also playing a part in the success is interaction with other clients, communication between the WorkFORCE staff, physician’s office and case manager.

For more information on WorkFORCE call (937) 440-7322 or visit www.UVMC.com.

Content Updated: December 1, 2014

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