Saunders Therapy Centers has been considered the Twin Cities leader in injured worker rehabilitation for more than 20 years.


Saunders’ Industrial Rehabilitation mission is to identify and maximize the work-related functional abilities of those injured on the job. Communication is a hallmark of our service. We work closely with the client, physician, Qualified Rehabilitation Counselor (QRC), case manager, insurance adjuster, and employer to fully understand the unique requirements of each case.

Each of our clinics has a large gym area and equipment that allows us to evaluate work-related function and simulate job-related activities for nearly any job. The therapists who provide these services are specially trained, experienced, and understand industry, the workers compensation system, and the unique issues involved in work-related injuries. Our services are comprehensive and include work hardening, work conditioning, functional capacity evaluation, and physical abilities testing. 

Work Hardening and Work Conditioning Evaluation

Before beginning Work Hardening or Work Conditioning, each client participates in a 2-hour evaluation. We obtain a thorough injury history, work history, psychosocial screening and baseline functional assessment covering lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, upper extremity function, and body position capabilities. During this evaluation, we get to know your job-related goals, and we will help you identify barriers to successful return to work.  We work together with you, your physician, and others as needed (e.g., QRC and/or employer) to develop a custom program. Saunders industrial rehab teams customize the length of the program based on evaluation, availability of light or modified duty, and program goals.

Work Hardening vs. Work Conditioning

The results of the 2-hour evaluation help us determine which program is most appropriate. Work Hardening and Work Conditioning are essentially the same, in that they stress general fitness, endurance, and work simulation. The exact combination of these physical restoration elements is customized for each client.

In addition, many clients who have been off work for a long period of time are struggling with non-physical issues such as fear, anxiety, and even anger. If you are experiencing these challenges, you may be appropriate for our Work Hardening program. In addition to the above activities, our Work Hardening clients participate in weekly group sessions with our psychologist to help deal with the many psychosocial issues that work-injured individuals face. Work Hardening clients do not necessarily have psychological diagnoses or need psychological “counseling” – they may simply need more guidance to work through pain, fear, and stress that is often a natural consequence of being out of work and dealing with the worker’s compensation system.

Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE)

We have found that the best way to evaluate a person’s endurance is to observe our clients in a work-like environment for multiple hours and days. Therefore, Saunders Therapy Centers’ FCE is three days long. After a 2-hour baseline assessment, during which we determine maximum capabilities, each client returns for 2 consecutive days of endurance testing, 8 hours per day.

We spend a great deal of time prior to every evaluation to make sure we understand the purpose. The activities tested during the two, 8-hour days are often very specific to a particular job. We can also perform a more generic evaluation if no particular job goal is identified or we are being asked to identify general abilities. The evaluation is appropriate for all types of injuries.

Advantages to the Saunders Functional Capacity Evaluation include:

  • Customized activity selection results in highly relevant, valid results.
  • True endurance capabilities observed – no extrapolation.
  • Referral sources love our reports – Detailed description of evaluation goals, activities performed, and clear, non-ambiguous recommendations.

Physical Abilities Testing (PAT)

For clients who are having difficulty performing work activities but do not have an active worker’s compensation claim, we offer a 2-hour test designed to help determine basic work abilities. This is a limited test compared to our Functional Capacity Evaluation, and we are unable to determine endurance capabilities or ability to perform repetitive lifting over an 8-hour day.

The main benefit to the PAT is to document performance of work-like positions and maximum lifting capabilities in cases where documentation is helpful for legal cases, disability determination, or other needs. 

Because this service is not covered by insurance, PAT is a cash-based service, and full payment is required in advance of the testing.

Work Hardening clients at Saunders Therapy Centers


Realistic, Experienced, Non-Biased Assessment and Rehabilitation for Worker Injuries


More Industrial Rehabilitation Images from Saunders Therapy Centers