Acute Auto Accident Injuries

 

Background

The International Center for Health and Wellness specializes in the acute treatment of auto accident injuries. We have been doing that since 2001 in Lee and Charlotte counties. Although we also specialize in the care of Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Hormone Imbalance, and Environmental toxicity/Biotoxin patients, a large part of our practice involves helping those in pain from a recent automobile accident.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an automobile accident, it is extremely important to get treatment immediately. In our experience, the first few weeks after an accident are a critical time to get the proper medical treatment and those that delay getting medical treatment have worse outcomes. It is estimated that everyone will be involved in an auto accident during their lifetime. It is essential that you know exactly what and what not to do in order to prevent long term disability and have the greatest chance to return to the life you were leading before the accident.

Most accidents are not life threatening. However, even auto accidents with minor damage to the vehicle can result in serious injuries. The most common injuries we see result from rear end collisions. Most accidents today seem to involve a driver who is distracted (i.e. on the cell phone) or who is impaired by alcohol or drugs.

The most important decision to make after being injured in an auto accident is not what attorney you will call and go see. This decision results is unnecessary delays in treatment or being sent to a medical provider who does not provide comprehensive care. The most important decision you can make after being injured in an auto accident is the Doctor you will see for treatment. After being seen in the Emergency Department, you must go immediately to a physician that specializes in the comprehensive treatment of acute auto accident injuries; this is giving yourself the best chance for a complete recovery.

Studies show that auto accident injuries reach maximum medical improvement (a legal term meaning permanent injury) at around the 4th month after the accident. This is why comprehensive and aggressive treatment is essential by a physician who understands the injuries involved and can provide all of the treatment needed to heal. Diagnostic tests like MRI’s are helpful, but they are not a substitute for proper treatment. You can know exactly what is wrong with you, but if you live in constant pain, or are impaired in your ability to function in life, the diagnostic tests have not helped you. Your goal should not be to build a case or to see how much money you think you can make from the accident, but to be completely healed.


Symptoms

The most common complaint we hear at the International Center for Health and Wellness from our auto accident injury patients is pain.
This can be anywhere from mild to severe and we try to have patients grade it on a 0-10 scale, where 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst you can experience (i.e. a kidney stone or childbirth). Pain can be located in muscles, joints, bones, or the spine. Headaches are common, sometimes severe. These can be generated from a head injury, like a concussion, a neck injury and resultant muscle tension, or migraines.

Whiplash means that your body was thrown around by the force of the impact. It results in injury to the neck, back and even the brain. While we commonly think of whiplash occurring from a rear end collision, it can occur in front or side impacts. Muscles tendons, and ligaments are usually damaged (soft tissue injury) and the result is pain, spasm, and restricted motion. Spinal disks can also be injured with resulting pain or nerve irritation. The TMJ’s (jaw joints) can also be injured with pain, difficulty chewing, and headaches.

Head injury is common in auto accidents, occurring either from direct impact or from whiplash. Loss of consciousness can occur, but is not necessary to have a significant head injury. When the brain function is disrupted without bleeding or swelling, this is called a concussion and is graded based on symptoms. Typical concussion symptoms include headaches, visual problems, dizziness, nausea, memory difficulties, amnesia, and fatigue. These symptoms can persist for months.

Bone and joint injuries are also very common in auto accidents, resulting in bruising, swelling, pain, limited motion, and instability. Typical locations in the arm are the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and thumb. Tennis elbow and carpal tunnel are also quite common for drivers. In the legs, typical locations of injury include the hip, knee and ankle. Abnormal walking further aggravates back pain.


Testing

Most auto accident patients will be seen in the Emergency Department and have a thorough assessment to rule out or detect life threatening injuries. Usually this will include x-rays, lab tests, CT scans, and tests on the heart. After discharge, it is essential to see a physician immediately that specializes in the comprehensive evaluation and treatment of these injuries so that other non-life threatening problems can be detected quickly, before permanent disability results.

Typical evaluation of an auto accident patient should always start with a thorough history and physical examination. The vast majority of injuries can be diagnosed after this exam. If necessary, x-rays can be used to diagnose bone and joint injuries. CT scans are used initially to look for brain injury or internal injuries to the chest or abdomen. Later, MRI is used to diagnose subtle brain injury, spinal disk and nerve injury, or joint injuries involving cartilage or ligaments. Ultrasound examination may be used to assess for arterial or venous injury.

Additional testing is performed during therapy to assess functionality and to monitor progress. This includes range of motion testing for the spine and joints, muscle strength and flexibility testing, and testing of joint stability. An experienced physician will see the patient weekly to monitor progress, detect problems, and order additional tests. Specialized Functional Capacity Testing is performed when decisions need to be made about ability to return to work or to assess if permanent restrictions are present.


Treatment

Auto accident patients require holistic, aggressive and comprehensive treatment to provide the greatest chance for complete recovery. It is essential that there are no delays in obtaining care by a physician experienced in dealing with these injuries and able to provide the spectrum of treatments necessary for healing.

At the International Center for Health and Wellness, we specialize in the treatment of patients acutely injured in automobile accidents. Dr. Gruning understands what causes these injuries, from his time as an Emergency Specialist, and how to diagnose and treat them. He understands the importance of aggressive, comprehensive treatment to relieve pain, restore function, and return to life and work. Our treatment team provides the following care:

Referral to other specialists will be done as required, including chronic pain management, orthopedics, neurology, surgery, hand therapy, and specialized physical therapy.

 

 


 


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