Health and Wellness

After the Accident: Recovering Body and Mind in the Wake of a Car Crash

In the proverbial blink of an eye, your entire life can be upended. It takes only a split second for a motorist to make a foolish decision that causes an accident and, consequently, injuries or even death.

Unfortunately, the reverse is true when it comes to recovering from a motor vehicle crash.

Of course, the timing of one’s recovery depends on the level of injuries that they have sustained and what kind of treatment they pursue, but it can take a very long time indeed before that individual is ready to resume life as he or she once knew it.

Are you wondering how long you’ll be out of commission, and how you’ll know when it’s time to go back to work, following an accident? Read on for some solid information and useful tips.

Medical Care Is Crucial

It’s important to understand that seeking out medical attention after an accident is necessary. There are several different injuries and conditions that might not be symptomatic right away.

Whiplash is one famous example, but back injuries, knee injuries, traumatic brain injuries and even emotional issues like PTSD and depression can occur days or even weeks after the accident.

Your doctor can evaluate your condition, talk to you about what signs of these injuries you should be on the lookout for and document any injuries that are apparent.

Physical Therapy Can Speed the Process

The human body is pretty remarkable, and in some cases, will heal itself over time and return to full functionality. However, proper treatment and therapy can speed this process along, so that you get better faster.

In other cases, physical and/or occupational therapy might be necessary to fully restore your physical capabilities.

PT can help you relearn how to walk after partial paralysis or help you build muscle strength that you require for your livelihood.

What About Complementary Treatments?

Yet another tool that an accident survivor can use to aid in their recovery is complementary medicine.

Chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy, and hydrotherapy may be helpful in lessening pain and stiffness, increasing range of motion and mobility, and even sloughing off the stress that so often accompanies the aftermath of a car accident.

Talk to your doctor about how these complementary treatments can play a role in your car accident injury rehab plan.

Feeling Anxious, Angry, or Scared After a Crash

Emotional issues are common among people who have experienced car accidents. If there were fatalities caused by the accident, you may feel some survivor’s guilt — even if your actions didn’t cause the crash.

Or you could feel jittery and fearful about getting behind the wheel again or even getting into a car at all.

Anger and a desire for justice are both common responses, particularly if someone’s negligence is to blame. There’s the potential for post-traumatic stress disorder, as well.

If your emotional state seems to have been impacted by the accident — if you just don’t feel like yourself or can’t seem to shake the spiraling, negative thoughts — it’s a good idea to seek therapy.

A therapist can help you process the trauma and your responses to it, understand your fears and anxieties and develop healthy coping skills.

There’s no shame in getting professional help for your mental health, considering what an enormous effect an accident can have on your day-to-day life and your outlook for the future.

Be Patient with Yourself

If you are a Type A personality who is constantly on the go, it can be difficult to take your recovery slowly. You might try to rush the process by pushing yourself to do too much too soon, but that will only delay matters further if you re-injure yourself.

Remove the word “should” from your vocabulary, and don’t feel pressured to do anything — return to work, begin driving again, or “get over” the accident — that you are not ready to do.

Move at your own pace and be patient. Celebrate the small wins, such as transitioning from a walker to a cane, or being able to go up and downstairs again.

Most importantly, follow the instructions given to you by your doctor, physical therapist, or counselor. Make sure you have their all-clear to resume normal activities as your physical and emotional health improve.

Closing Thoughts

It’s not always easy to bounce back after a car accident, and it can take a lot more time than the phrase “bounce back” implies! But there are steps you can take to help yourself recover.

Stack the deck in your favor by eating right, following doctor’s orders in terms of your pain medication, getting adequate sleep, and keeping your stress to a minimum. Stick to your PT schedule and don’t overdo it physically.

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