6 STEPS FOR RECOVERY AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT INJURY
Welcome to the Mobility Plus Chiropractic patient resource for car accident injury diagnosis, treatment and relief
Hi, I’m Dr. Justin Guy, the owner and Chiropractor at Mobility Plus Chiropractic. This is my story.
Exactly one year ago I was involved in a serious car accident.
I was driving on the highway when a transport truck pulled up beside me and pushed me out of my lane. In a matter of seconds, my front-end was wedged underneath the back-end of a transport truck, while moving at over 100km/hr sideways. The way my car was crushed by the transport’s rear wheels left just enough room for my legs and torso; miraculously, I walked away relatively unscathed. I’m lucky and very grateful for having survived. I could have easily suffered from severe and chronic neck pain and back pain as a result. I’m so grateful.
The reason I feel compelled to tell you about this is that I couldn’t imagine hearing about a similar event happening to someone I care about. Replicating my remarkable luck in a similar situation doesn’t seem possible.
I could not have avoided what happened to me, yet most accidents can be avoided with a healthy appreciation for safety. Here’s my advice: Don’t touch your cell phones. Any text your planning to send can wait. Keep both hands on the wheel. Trust me, when something happens, it happens fast. Your reaction speed needs to be spot on. Please don’t rush. Weigh the risk versus the reward. The extra 5 minutes at home is likely not worth the risk that aggressive driving brings.
If something does go wrong, the steps you take to manage your injuries are vital. Here are 6 key recommendations for promoting your physical recovery.
Here are the 6 steps for promoting recovery after a motor vehicle accident
1: Seek immediate medical attention.
The shock and rush of adrenaline often experienced after an accident can mask injury, so pain cannot be used as an indicator of damage. Imaging such as x-ray, ultrasound and MRI may be necessary to rule out fractures, severe tissue damage and joint instability.
2: Keep moving.
Once fracture and instability have been ruled out, start moving as much as you can tolerate. Movement will flush away inflammation and limit the muscle tension that will gradually build over the first few weeks. Only extend your range of motion to what you can handle; lots of pain-free movement is the goal. Avoid the use of a cervical collar unless fracture or spinal instability has not been ruled out.
3: Carefully apply heat and ice.
Never use heat after an acute injury, especially if there is any chance of inflammation; heat can typically be incorporated after the first or second week to aid with relaxing the building muscle tension. The application of ice to a painful area shortly after the injury will help to ease pain. However, ice slows down the metabolic activity of our immune system cells and will create a sluggish healing process. Only apply ice to your body if you need pain relief. Follow this rule of thumb: 10 minutes with ice on the injured area alternated with 10 minutes off. This will prevent the tissue from getting too cold. You can read more about using heat and ice to treat soft tissue injuries here.
4: Stay hydrated.
Drink at least 2 litres of electrolyte-enriched water per day. Tissue hydration is critical to optimizing the effectiveness of our immune system, which is working overtime after injury. Dehydration will exacerbate muscle tension and create a barrier to recovery.
5: Feed your Parasympathetic Nervous System.
A motor vehicle accident will cause a spike in sympathetic activity (better known as our “fight or flight” response system) that creates emotional and physiological stress. Parasympathetic breathing exercises (“belly breathing”) will help counteract the sympathetic system’s over-activity by slowing the heart rate, reducing anxiety and reducing overall stress in the body. Start by taking a deep breath in, letting your belly expand forward and fill your lungs. Very slowly release as much air from your lungs as possible. Repeat 10 times.
6: Seek rehabilitative treatment.
The sooner the rehabilitation process is initiated, the quicker the recovery and the lesser the risk of chronic ailments. Your insurance company will give you $3500 minimum to spend as you see fit on services and products to help with your recovery.
Musculoskeletal injury specialists such as chiropractors and physiotherapists can assess injuries and construct well-designed program of care. Treatments can ease pain, while improving range of motion and restoring strength and mobility. A targeted exercise program, pain-relieving modalities, hands on therapy and specific self-care strategies will be a crucial component to getting you back on your feet.
-Dr. Justin Guy, Oakville Chiropractor