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The NFL Lockout: Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitative Therapy

“If there weren’t a lockout, I’d be in Cleveland,” says National Football League defensive lineman Travis Ivey of the Cleveland Browns professional football team.

Instead, Ivey is at the University of Maryland’s football training facility, working through an injury that, absent the current lockout facing players, he would be rehabilitating in-house with the Browns’ training staff.

Ivey and other injured players — some who were waived by their teams, but still have the means to pursue rehabilitation therapy through workers’ compensation for their on-the-job injuries — are presently living and undergoing therapy in a kind of hazy reality in which — because of the players’ and owners’ failed collective bargaining agreement — there is not any personal contact between individual players and their teams at all.

That means that injured players like Ivey are locked out of their club facilities entirely, cannot even speak with team trainers and must find trainers and rehab facilities on their own.

In Ivey’s case, his rehabilitation specialist at Maryland oversees his training and communicates on his behalf as a “third-party medical provider” to team trainers, who can speak with her but not to Ivey.

“It’s weird,” says Ivey’s therapist, who is an independent contractor. “Sometimes the guys will be sitting right there while I’m on the phone and they can’t talk to the coaches.”

The circumstances surrounding a professional football player’s on-the-job injury are concededly a bit different from injuries more typically sustained by other workers at their place of employment. Nonetheless, similar questions and concerns can apply to workers’ compensation matters regardless of how an injury occurred and what type of injury it may be. If you live in the Cleveland area and have questions concerning a workers’ compensation claim or issue, contact an experienced workers’ comp attorney.

Related Resource: Washington Post, “Injured NFL players must be creative when dealing with injuries during the lockout” June 28, 2011