|Chrysler Goes Holistic To Revolutionize Back Pain Care In The Workplace
Armed with the knowledge that low back pain is a
prevalent affliction with a hefty price tag, Chrysler LLC has taken a
unique approach to alleviate back pain among its employees.
A pilot, holistic program has proven to be 10 times more
effective and less costly than conventional physical therapy at
eliminating back pain and is expected to translate into significant
healthcare expense savings, Chrysler said.
More than half (55 percent) of employees who received
the intervention eliminated their chronic back pain, compared to 0
percent of controls at program completion, Chrysler said.
Intervention participants also experienced significant
reductions in disability, stress and depressive symptoms, as well as
improvement in sleep. In comparison, conventional physical therapy
produced only 5 percent elimination of chronic back pain in a separate
clinical trial with a similar population, Chrysler said.
These findings offer a glimmer of hope after a study
published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)
reported that, despite all the money that has been spent by Americans
on back and neck pain relief, pain levels haven’t improved.
In 2007, Chrysler LLC partnered with Health Alliance
Plan (HAP), a Detroit-based nonprofit health plan, and the Henry Ford
Medical Group (HFMG) provider network to pilot the "We’ve Got
Your Back" program at Chrysler’s Auburn Hills headquarters. This
holistic approach utilizes complementary and alternative medicine in a
group model in the convenience of the workplace.
Using modalities such as group feedback, guided
relaxation and somatic movement reduction (teaching the brain to
maintain control of the nerve and muscle system and release
over-contracted muscles), the program treats a large number of
individuals at one time while minimizing time missed from work.
Chrysler recruited more than 200 employees meeting
eligibility criteria to participate in the pilot program. Employees
were randomized to intervention or untreated control groups and their
health status was measured at the start, middle and end of the
five-month project period.
HAP and HFMG officials believe this innovative group
model has great potential for growth throughout Southeast Michigan
workforces and beyond. HAP has developed tools to allow for easy
implementation, tailoring and adapting in any worksite setting.
As a result of the successful pilot, Chrysler will
continue to offer the program to its employees and will also pilot a
separate program using similar complementary and alternative medical
techniques to reduce stress. Other southeast Michigan companies have
also jumped at the opportunity to bring the programto their employees.
The 17,000-employee Henry Ford Health System launched an expanded
version of the program in January.
According to the authors of the JAMA study, the U.S.
spent nearly $86 billion on treatment of back and neck problems in
2005, an increase of 65 percent from 1997, after adjusting for
Individuals with spine problems spent over $2,500 more on medical care in 2005 than those without spine problems.
Addresses: Chrysler LLC, P.O. Box 21-8004, Auburn Hills, MI 48321; (800) 992-1997, www.chryslerllc.com. Henry Ford Health System, One Ford Place, Detroit, MI 48202; (800) 436-7936, www.henryfordhealth.org. Health Alliance Plan, 2850 West Grand Blvd., Detroit, MI 48202; (313) 872-8100, www.hap.org.