Lenny O’Connell

Director, Occupational Therapist, Fit for Work, Nelson, NZ

Lenny is an Occupational Therapist with a Master’s Degree in Health Science (Endorsed in Occupational Health) and a Director of Fit For Work. Lenny has 15 years’ experience specialising in Occupational Health and Rehabilitation and has industry-specific expertise in a wide variety of sectors including; manufacturing, transport, farming, warehousing and all trade-related industries. Lenny has a focus on the use of ‘work’ as a therapeutic medium and the further development of inter-disciplinary practice.

The Health Benefits of Work in Pain Management

Health benefits of work? It’s not long ago that people would have laughed at this statement. Surely an oxymoron – what about the hazards of work? Surely you have to be 100% fit to go back to work?

Research from the UK highlights that doctors there, GPs specifically, have not seen a connection between work and health, and by providing fully unfit medical certification have blocked appropriate return to work. But ‘Active and able – independent with pain’ surely must include work?

The dangers of the medical model of practice is that it relies on diagnoses to treat. Pain is poorly understood by the medical model, and results in diagnostic labelling and iatrogenesis (inadvertent harm caused by doctors).

How we can we support GPs to help their patients with chronic pain? What is the role of the doctor within a pain management team? Is it to prescribe medication?

David and Lenny present a challenging view of the role of the doctor, how we need to move to a position where work is considered a therapeutic intervention in pain management, and beyond even the biopsychosocial model to empower clients to take control (and responsibility) for their symptoms by incorporating occupational physicians into the interdisciplinary team.