Lumbar spine rehabilitation program

Have you been out of work for at least 4 weeks and 6 months at most due to lower back pain from an occupation which lead to lumbar overload? In this case, you can benefit from our lumbar spine rehabilitation program if you meet a series of requirements. Through this program, we want to prevent your work-related disease from becoming chronic.

Anyone who suffers from back pain often tends to move less and make less effort to avoid pain or for fear of making it worse. Your physical condition deteriorates but your back pain does not go away. Scientific research shows that a rehabilitation program and ergonomic measures in the workplace are beneficial against back pain. Your physical condition improves, pain decreases or disappears and you can resume work.

Am I eligible for the program?

You are eligible for the program if you meet the following requirements:

  • you work in the private sector or in a provincial or local administration;
  • you are under the supervision of the occupational physician because your occupation involves lifting loads, because your back is under ergonomic stress or your body is exposed to mechanical vibrations through your seat.
  • you have been in incapacity for work
    • for at least 4 weeks and no more than 6 months following lower back pain;
    • for at least 1 week and no more than 6 months and you have already been in incapacity for work following lower back pain for at least 3 weeks in the 12 months preceding your current incapacity for work;
    • for at least 4 weeks and no more than 6 months following lumbar spine surgery;
  • your doctor agrees to let you participate in the rehabilitation program.

You can also benefit from the program if your occupational physician notices during a return to work examination - after a work incapacity of 4 weeks to 6 months - that you are doing adapted work or that you are performing another function.

Office work is not considered to be under ergonomic stress. We are looking for professions with severe postures for the back. Examples professions who might qualify: road workers, industrial maintenance workers, lumberjacks, cable workers, ...

What does the program consist of?

This is a rehabilitation program that includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. This program is given in a rehabilitation centre and includes a maximum of 36 two-hour sessions, spread over a maximum of 6 months. Participation in the rehabilitation program is free and cannot be imposed. Fedris covers the patient contribution, i. e. the part of the cost of the rehabilitation program that is not reimbursed by the health insurance. Fedris also reimburses you for travel expenses to the rehabilitation centre, at a rate of € 0.3460 per km, with a maximum of 1,000 km.

Fedris can also pay your employer a lump sum if he takes ergonomic measures at your workplace to make it easier for you to resume work. e.g.: training at your workplace to learn movements to avoid straining your back or an evaluation to assess back risks that are specific to your workplace.

How do I register for the program?

  • Ask your attending physician if he agrees to let you participate in the program.
  • Make an appointment with your occupational physician. He will check whether you meet the program requirements. If this is the case, he completes the functional rehabilitation application form (French), sends it to Fedris and gives you a second completed copy. This appointment is free. 
  • You can ask a rehabilitation centre - before or after your appointment with your occupational physician - to fill in the verso of the form.
  • Your occupational physician will return the form to Fedris (or a copy if the rehabilitation centre has not completed the verso of the form yet)
  • Fedris will send its decision within 15 days of receiving the form. If you are allowed to follow the program, you can make an appointment with a rehabilitation centre. You can start at once your first session.
  • After rehabilitation, the centre draws up a report on the course and outcome of the treatment. Upon receipt of this report, Fedris will reimburse you for your travel expenses.
  • As soon as you receive the invoice from the rehabilitation centre, send a copy to Fedris. Fedris will then reimburse you for your own contribution for the rehabilitation. (Fedris only covers NIHDI benefit 558994 - ambulatory multidisciplinary rehabilitation for spinal disordes - and 1 preliminary consultation with the specialist of the rehabilitation centre).

Can I participate in a rehabilitation program if I already follow a treatment at an approved rehabilitation centre?

If you have already started treatment in an approved rehabilitation centre without prior intervention of the occupational physician, Fedris can only reimburse if you apply to us within the first 4 weeks of treatment. To do this, ask the rehabilitation centre's specialist to complete the application form and then contact your occupational physician.

Can I resume work while following the rehabilitation program?

Yes, this is possible. You can resume work full-time or part-time. To do this, make an appointment with your occupational physician.

The cooperation agreement between Fedris and the rehabilitation centre explicitly states that the centre must offer rehabilitation sessions outside normal working hours, since one of the aims of the prevention program is to encourage people to resume work.

If you wish to resume work part-time, you must first obtain your employer’s agreement. If he agrees, he will pay you a salary based on your part-time work. To find out if you are entitled to additional compensation for loss of salary because you stopped working full-time, please consult your health insurance's medical advisor. 

Will I get an allowance from Fedris for my incapacity for work due to my back pain?

No. If you are in incapacity for work, you will first be paid the guaranteed salary from your employer and then an allowance from your health insurance. In the latter case, your health insurance’s medical advisor will decide whether he recognises or extends the periods of incapacity for work. Fedris may only grant compensation for incapacity for work in exceptional cases where there is a genuine occupational disease. To this end, a separate application should be submitted. Before doing so, consult your doctor or your health insurance’s medical advisor.

Can I benefit from the rehabilitation program twice?

You can participate in a second rehabilitation program if:

  • you have underwent another spinal surgery;
  • you obtain the health insurance’s medical advisor agreement for a spinal rehabilitation that is necessary for you to resume work.

Can I benefit from the rehabilitation program if my back pain was caused by an occupational accident?

If the occupational accident has been recognised, you cannot benefit from the program. On the other hand, you can apply if your occupational accident has not been recognised.