Car accidents cause many different injuries. Drivers, passengers, and bystanders may suffer a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, or other live-altering injuries. Many car accident victims require surgery. Victims of Oklahoma City accidents often need to treat with specialists such as neurosurgeons, orthopedists, and pain management doctors.
The medical care that often requires that most visits, and takes the most time, is the care victims receive from therapists. Therapists typically aren’t doctors, though they do have college or degrees or advanced certification of some kind. Most therapists are legally required to be certified by the state of Oklahoma. Therapists normally must also have some clinical experience before they can work on patients.
There are different types of therapists you may need to treat with no matter your type of injury. Today, we wanted to talk a bit about the kinds of therapists who can help you if you were injured in a car crash.
How does a physical therapist help Oklahoma City accident victims?
Physical therapists are also called physiotherapists, or PTs for short. Your physical therapist devises a plan of exercises to help your arm, leg, or whatever part of your body adjust to the injuries you suffered. Adjustment includes helping the healing process, reducing the level of pain, and helping your recover from surgery. Physical therapy exercises help you with your coordination. They’ll help you control your bowels and bladders if you need help in those bodily areas. PTs also help you adjust to canes, walkers, and prosthetic devices.
The exercises focus on helping you regain strength, flexibility, and movement by improving the surrounding parts of the anatomy. If, for example, you have back pain due to a car crash, the physical therapist provides an exercise plan to improve the muscles, ligaments, and nerves around the injured part of your back.
The physical therapy will begin his/her medical care by asking you what symptoms you have. The PT will have you perform a few physical tests so he/she can get a more accurate understanding of your pain. For example, a physical therapist will:
- Test how well you can move, bend, or reach.
- Examine if you can climb up or down the stairs without discomfort.
- Keep track of your pulse/heartbeat while you’re exercising.
The exercise program normally consists of two parts. There will be exercises you do at the physical therapist’s location. The PT will also give you exercises to do at home.
In addition to an exercise plan, a PT may provide different therapies such as ultrasound, massage, heat therapy, and other therapies. Some PTs focus on having you do exercises in the water, since water places less stress on your joints.
Your family physician will normally recommend a physical therapist who’s skilled at helping patients/accident victims with the specific types of injuries you have. Drivers, passengers, and all other accident victims normally see the PT at the PT’s own facility, a doctor’s office, a hospital, or a rehabilitation center.
How does a vocational rehabilitation therapist help injury victims in Oklahoma City?
The job of a vocational rehabilitation therapist is to help you return to work. Many injured workers can return to their old job once their injuries heal. For example, if you break an arm, you can usually expect to return to work once the orthopedist repairs or stabilizes the broken bone and the healing process is complete. Many car accident victims, slip and fall accident victims, and other injury victims suffer injuries that don’t completely heal. With help from a vocational therapist, you may be able to return to work with some workplace restrictions and with some adjustments by you (and by your employer).
Vocational therapy services include:
- Reviewing your job duties.
- Working to find ways to help you do your job even though you lost a limb, have spinal cord damage, have chronic pain, or can’t some part of your anatomy.
- Providing career counseling or working with career counselors. If you can’t perform your old job, the vocational rehabilitation therapist will explore what types of jobs you can do.
- Exploring what assistive devices such as computer software, better ergonomic devices, and other tools can help you perform your job duties.
- Determining what your functional limits are – such as being able to only lift objects that weigh less than 20 lbs. – when you were able to lift up to 50 lbs. before your injuries.
There are federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that are designed to help disabled workers. For example, the Rehabilitation Act requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. The Rehabilitation Act also requires that disabled workers receive vocational counseling if necessary.
How does an occupational therapist help OKC car crash victims?
An occupational therapist helps injury victims perform daily tasks and helps the accident victims work with assistive devices. Even though occupational therapy uses the work “occupation,” occupational therapists don’t focus on helping you return to work. That’s the job of a vocational therapist. The word “occupational” is used in the broad sense of the word – i.e., how do you occupy your daily time?
Occupational therapists mostly work with accident victims who have a permanent disability such as head trauma, spinal cord damage, heart disease, an amputation, or other disabilities. Occupational therapists help you adjust to your environment based on your current health. They help with household duties, social interactions, personal hobbies, attending school, and to some extent doing your job.
- Help you use prosthetics, crutches, wheelchairs, and other medical equipment.
- Help accident victims understand which computer-assisted devices to use and how to use them.
- Develop ways to help with memory and other cognitive tasks.
- Design strategies for preventing falls and minimizing fall damage.
- Help you find ways such as pillboxes to manage and remember when to take your medications.
Occupational therapists spend a lot of time helping you think through and design solutions for working around or through your physical disability.
At Cunningham & Mears, our Oklahoma City car accident lawyers work with your doctors to fully understand the full range of medical care you’ll need – often for the rest of your life. We demand compensation for all your medical bills including long-term therapy with different therapists. We also demand payment for your financial losses and for your daily pain and suffering. To discuss your rights when others cause you harm, contact us today in Oklahoma City, or call 405-232-1212 for a free initial consultation.
Ryan Y. Cunningham is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Cunningham devotes his practice to protecting the rights of injured Oklahoma residents. In addition to assisting injured clients, Mr. Cunningham endeavors to improve personal injury representation by speaking on issues related to personal injury law to attorneys in continuing legal education courses and to law students. Learn More