A car accident can be a scary event and can leave long-term physical and emotional trauma. This guide will walk you through how to deal with minor physical issues and how to watch for and work with more severe injuries.
The most important step immediately following a car accident is to determine fault.
If you are in a car accident that is not your fault, most people carry insurance for injuries to parties. This insurance can cover immediate costs, such as hospital visits and long term costs such as ongoing physical therapy and injury treatment. Even if you are at fault, check with your own insurance company, and often, unless you were deliberately destructive, your insurance will cover at least some portion of your treatment costs.
The first step is to be aware of and look for signs of neurological damage.
Neurological damage can take many forms from immediate concussions and short term memory loss, to long term inability to focus or problems with sensory or motor function.
If you suspect any neurological damage, such as Traumatic Brain Injury, it is advised you immediately seek out medical help as this may be a sign of long term damage. If you have been cleared by a doctor and are still experiencing long term mental effects from the experience, you can look into mental therapy, and while working around your disabilities and increase your quality of life.
The second step is to look for nerve damage.
This can take the form of minor ongoing pain (extremely common) to full or partial disability. In the case of minor nerve damage, a physical therapist can teach you techniques to work through the pain.
It may also become necessary to find a career or boss who lets you work around your disability. Many modern bosses are extremely accommodating and are happy to have a motivated employee even with limitations.
Paralysis and disability are more severe and may require changes in how you live. In this case, physical therapy will be used to increase use in disabled parts.
You need to also evaluate how your house and living situation is set up and work with friends, coworkers, and your therapist to set up a living style more amenable to your disability.
While returning to work may be a possibility, it might not be possible. In this case the government has disability set up, whereby they will provide you with money and insurance to cover your living expenses. Note, this process is heavily policed, and commission of fraud is a federal offense, so only use it in the case of real disability.
The third step is to evaluate physical injuries.
These can be short term, from broken or dislocated limbs, to medium term, from torn ligaments to damage joins, to permanent from torn tendons to extremely damaged bones.
These injuries will often involve the long slow process of physical therapy. While this might seem like a slow process that is not leading anywhere, the changes are often subtle and slow and it is usually worth it.
These injuries might require stepping back your activities in the short term while you recover, to living a little more slower life, and performing exercises to keep yourself healthy in the long term.
It is important to remember, physical activity is always a good thing and keeping your weight under control and walking regularly, unless your doctor specifically forbids it, will always help you recover.
Car accidents can be scarey but much of the damage can be fixed with time and people live with many disabilities. Reach out to your friends, family, and the social safety nets to help you recover in this vulnerable time.
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