Tending to Your Body (and Soul) After an Accident or Injury

Did you know that falls are the seventh-most common cause of death in the United States? Motor vehicle crashes kill one in every 102 Americans, while motorcycle accidents are responsible for one out of every 846 deaths.

Of course, even non-fatal accidents can take a tremendous toll. Western medicine — and indeed, Western mindsets — tend to focus on the physical aspects of accidents, injury, and illness. The emotional impact of injury, however, can be just as devastating. And this type of trauma can continue to inform an individual’s well-being, or lack thereof, long after the physical body has healed.

Approaching Recovery from a Holistic Viewpoint

The links between trauma, emotional stress, and physical pain have long been documented, but that doesn’t mean they’re well understood — or that conventional treatments for pain or injury, such as prescription medication, physical therapy, or medical intervention up to and including surgery, take the emotional aspect into account. That’s why complementary treatments, used in conjunction with their allopathic counterparts, are so important to healing. Treating the body without regard for the mind, emotions, or psyche, means that the individual remains at risk for further pain, re-injury, or, in extreme cases of trauma like physical or sexual abuse, handing down a legacy of pain to children.

The body’s sympathetic nervous system goes into survival mode after an injury or any other kind of trauma. Unless and until the trauma is resolved, stress hormones like cortisol remain in high gear; this, in turn, can lead to higher than average blood pressure and blood sugar, lowered immune response, and slower physical recovery rate. In other words, your body continues to react as it did immediately following the injury, staying in survival mode instead of reverting back to a relaxed state.

How Does Trauma Manifest Itself Through the Emotions?

After experiencing a traumatic injury or accident, whether it was a motor vehicle crash, a slip-and-fall incident, a sports injury, or an accident in the workplace, individuals may display symptoms that include:

  • Fear that they might never recover, or might not regain their former mobility or athletic skill
  • Anger at a negligent party, at the circumstances, or at themselves
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Feelings of isolation or being left behind
  • Worry about financial issues, if the injury precludes them from working
  • Vulnerability or a heightened awareness of their mortality
  • Frustration at their limited mobility or capacity to function normally
  • Grief over losing their former identity

It’s important to note that these emotions can be difficult to acknowledge, let alone address. This is especially true if the individual is still experiencing physical ramifications of hte injury, and therefore require more attention.

What Are the Best Ways to Heal from the Trauma of Injury?

Almost always, the first step on the path to recovery after an injury is medical treatment. Once the body’s condition has been stabilized and the patient’s pain is being effectively managed, though, there are some other, equally important steps, to take.

Psychotherapy can help the patient talk through any issues that have emerged as a result of the traumatic incident, and in some cases, a psychiatrist who can prescribe short-term anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication can also help.

Complementary treatment modalities that can be used to treat trauma include chiropractic, acupuncture, reiki, the Feldenkrais method, lymphatic massage, trauma-informed yoga, tai chi or qigong, therapeutic breathwork, meditation and mindfulness, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

If the injury resulted from negligence on someone else’s part, seeking legal action to recover damages can help, from both a practical, financial perspective and an emotional one.

Steven Schwartzapfel, of Schwartzapfel Lawyers, says that “…injuries hurt. They’re traumatizing. They can cause unending pain and even heartache.” The Fighting For You legal team understands how wide-ranging injuries can be, and how filing a personal injury claim may provide you a sense of justice and closure.

A Few Final Thoughts

Recovering from a traumatic accident or injury takes time. Just as the bones require time to knit themselves back together and the muscles need time to heal, so do your psyche and emotional well-being require a period of recovery. How long it will take your heart and soul to heal isn’t as clear cut or predictable as the time needed before your cast comes off or you’re able to resume normal physical activity. Be patient with yourself, and give yourself credit for the hard work you’re doing — body, mind, and spirit — during this difficult time.