How to get the support you need if you are injured in a car accident
According to the Canadian Transportation Safety Board, there are approximately 160,000 motor vehicle accidents in Canada every year. Car accidents are a scary ordeal, and the aftermath can be stressful and confusing. You never expect it to happen to you…until it does.
If you’ve sustained an injury in a motor vehicle accident, it can be difficult to know how to begin your road to recovery, but there are a variety of options to help make the process as smooth as possible.
What Happens to Your Body During & After A Car Accident?
When you are in a motor vehicle accident (MVA), your body goes through a series of dramatic changes. Prior to impact, your body is moving at the same speed as your vehicle. At the moment of impact, your vehicle stops moving, but your body continues to move at that speed. For this reason, whiplash is one of the most common MVA injuries – even when the occupant has been wearing a seatbelt. Other common injuries include:
- Head and brain injuries
- Facial injuries
- Sprains and Strains
- Collarbone and rib injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
It’s important to ensure you are assessed by a paramedic or physician following an accident, even if you think you feel fine. During impact, your body releases a flood of adrenaline and endorphins. This is why many MVA victims seem so calm and collected following an accident, but when these endorphins wear off, you begin to feel the real extent of your injuries. You could also be suffering from internal injuries or a concussion. Failing to visit a hospital after a car accident can also have financial consequences, should you need to file an insurance claim for your treatment.
The Healing Process
The expected timeline for recovery varies depending on your injury. Minor muscle strains often heal within weeks to a few months. Muscle tears may require surgery and months to heal. Bones that are surgically repaired normally take 3 to 4 months to heal completely, with continued physical treatment. And pre-existing conditions like diabetes, pregnancy, or an immune deficiency could extend your healing time.
Your treatment plan could include a combination of:
Your physician and/or physiotherapist will determine what combinations of treatments are best for you and refer you to the necessary specialists.
Following the accident, you may experience shock and delayed symptoms. This is normal. However, you should still address these symptoms with your healthcare provider. Sudden onset of symptoms or change in your health can indicate other problems, such as potentially undiagnosed internal injuries.
It’s also useful to keep an eye on your mental health. Your mental health can have a detrimental effect on your recovery. Mental strain or emotional stress shouldn’t be ignored, especially after experiencing a traumatic event. Address this with your physician and, if necessary, ask for a referral to a mental health specialist.
Getting Support While Navigating the Claims Process
If you need to file an MVA claim for your treatment, you should familiarize yourself with the claims process. It’s also important to report every detail to your insurance provider or lawyer. If you are seeing a mental health specialist, providing your insurer with their notes may also help your claim. Be open and upfront with your claims adjuster during this process – they will clear up any questions you may have.
However, pre-existing health conditions will not affect your ability to get insurance coverage after an MVA, nor should your age. Another important note is that insurance companies are not allowed to deny you medical treatment coverage even if you are at fault in the accident. If either of those things are impeding your access to insurance benefits, it should be discussed with a personal injury lawyer.
Many healthcare providers offer additional services to help you navigate this process, from dealing directly with your insurer, to providing you with a lawyer to ensure you receive the treatments and benefits you need. In many cases, you will have access to pre-approved coverage to avoid delaying treatment. It is important to attend a physical therapy clinic that is both FSCO licensed and HCAI registered as they are more aware of the processes, can deal directly with your insurer, and avoids you having to pay out of pocket upfront to be reimbursed later.
At-Home Tips for Rehabilitating Your Body After a Car Accident
When you’re injured, the need for a good night’s sleep becomes more critical than ever. Sleep allows the body to regenerate injured and damaged tissue, and perform routine maintenance for your immune system, energy production, and growth. Without enough sleep, your body is unable to repair the damage caused by everyday life. Adding an injury to the mix, you will need up to nine hours of sleep each night to promote proper healing.
After sustaining an injury, the need for adequate water is absolutely critical. Because of acids and other waste material that need to be flushed away, the injured tissues in your body require greater blood flow to heal. Damaged cells in the affected area also require intracellular fluid to form new, healthy cells. Water contains electrolytes and minerals. It is also a solvent that breaks down vitamins and other nutritional elements in the food we eat so that the body can utilize them to heal. Therefore, if you’re not getting enough water after you’ve been injured, your recovery will take much longer.
Soothe with Heat
A warm heating pad, thermal wrap, or even a nice hot bath or shower can work wonders on pain. Applying heat blocks pain receptors soothes injured tissues, and increases blood flow to the area. This helps flush away excess fluid and reduce swelling and inflammation. Approximately 15 minutes of heat therapy every few hours is usually enough to provide pain relief and leave you feeling relaxed.
Aromatherapy is another natural tool that can help with your recovery, provided they are used safely. Essential oils are concentrated compounds extracted from flowers, herbs and other plants. They are often used to supplement massage therapy. Certain essential oils, like rosemary and peppermint, actively reduce the inflammation that surrounds injured tissues by increasing blood flow to the area that’s hurt. This acts in a similar way to heat therapy. Adding a few drops of essential oil to your bath can increase the pain-relieving properties of the warm water.
Please note that essential oils should never be applied directly to your skin. First, they must be diluted in a carrier oil. If you are seeing a massage therapist or aromatherapist, they will be happy to point you in the right direction.
During your recovery process, ensure your diet is chalked full of proteins and vitamins. This will boost and speed up your body’s natural healing process, as well as stimulate the regrowth of muscle tissues. Your recovery diet should include a variety of protein-rich foods like fish, meat, poultry, tofu, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Vitamin C is also essential. It encourages collagen production, which will help your body heal your bones, muscles, skin, and tendons. Moreover, vitamin C has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help prevent excessive inflammation. High levels of vitamin C can be found in citrus and tropical fruits, red and yellow peppers, dark leafy greens, broccoli, berries, and tomatoes.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, exercise can be a great way to help your body heal itself. However, before going ahead with any kind of exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physiotherapist to ensure that you will not cause any additional damage to your body. If you are seeing a physiotherapist, they may prescribe safe and effective exercises for you to do at home. Once they have given the go-ahead, start slowly with stretches and see how your body tolerates the movements. Beginners yoga is helpful in this situation because it allows you to work slowly toward a more rigorous routine.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do while recovering from a motor vehicle accident is to be patient and follow your doctor’s instructions, especially over the first few days. After assessing your injuries and needs, your healthcare providers will design a treatment plan that is right for you. Respect your body and its limits. The road to healing is different for everyone and putting unnecessary strain on your body before it’s ready will do more harm than good.