Wow! What a trip. Last Wednesday, I went to Stockholm to present the pan-European Fit for Work report at the 1st Baltic & North Sea Conference on Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. I was scheduled to return Thursday afternoon, but needless to say the volcano disrupted my return travel plans.
I presented the findings to the conference attendees before I learned about the volcano. The presentation focused on interventions available to facilitate retention and return to work, such as early identification, multidisciplinary and cognitive behavioural team-based approaches, targeted and tailored interventions, work-style interventions and reintegration approaches. The biopsychosocial and International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health models underlined many of the approaches used in these interventions.
Britt Arrelöv (Sweden) chaired a panel discussion around the topics I presented. On the panel were Andrew Frank (United Kingdom), Jan Ekholm (Sweden), and Christoph Gutenbrunner (Germany), and I. One of the key questions to the panel was the definition of early. Early varies by condition and type of intervention but is very important to consider. For instance, most cases of back pain resolve themselves within four to six weeks, so once the case goes beyond this time period, it is time to begin implementing interventions to facilitate recovery and reduce the likelihood of prolonged absence. However, for other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis, outcomes are often better the earlier individuals receive appropriate treatment.
Other points of discussion reflected on the role of rehabilitation medicine and the role of good work, as well as the importance of individual motivation and the psychosocial factors related to recovery. All in all, the discussion was very interesting and well received.
A few hours after the presentation, I learned about the volcanic eruption delaying my flight back to the UK. I thought I might be delayed for a day at the most, but seven days later I finally returned to the UK. We now know a variety of ways to travel from Stockholm to London ranging from driving, taking a train, riding a ferry to a combination of all three! Thankfully, I was able to board one of the first flights back into London and that Stockholm is a nice place to be stuck for an unexpected visit.