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Wearables could support workplace safety and injury recovery

Wearable activity trackers that monitor heart rate and count steps have become popular in Oklahoma, but technology developers have proposed expanded roles for smart personal medical monitors in the workplace. A presentation given at a conference described how wearable technology could assist workplace safety managers. More advanced devices on workers could collect data about body mechanics. Managers could use this information to evaluate injury risks and work toward prevention.

The presentation outlined how wearable gadgets could integrate with the workers' compensation process. In addition to alerting people to injury risks, the trackers could play a role in reporting injuries and provide feedback useful in treatment and rehabilitation decisions. A worker recovered from an injury might also avoid another injury with warnings from a wearable device.

Technology placed on the body, such as exoskeleton devices, could improve the quality of life for workers after catastrophic injuries, he said. Tests with paralyzed patients have shown promising results, such as helping people stand or even walk. Technology like this could assist case managers in speeding the recovery of injured workers. Physically supportive wearables could help people overcome knee or back injuries.

Although technological breakthroughs for aiding injured people are rapidly becoming available, many people still face challenges getting basic care and benefits after workplace injuries. When an employer fails to provide information about workers' compensation benefits, an injured worker could reach out to an attorney for help in preparing and filing a claim for benefits. The attorney could also appear at an appeals hearing if the claim is disputed or denied.

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