Nearly three million Americans visit the emergency room every year as a result of car accident injuries, many of which are urgent and require procedures and surgeries to properly treat. However, the majority of injuries sustained during a car accident are not life-threatening and require ongoing treatment as opposed to immediate, invasive care. In these cases, it’s important to seek care that is tailored to your exact injuries and needs for recovery. Car accident doctors have a unique combination of expertise in medical conditions and injuries as well as the unique forces at play during a car accident.
Conventional wisdom says that if your vehicle was hit hard enough to sustain even very mild damage, then your body likely was damaged as well. After all, your body is more delicate than the large metal frame of your car. Just like you may bring your car to a body shop for expert care, you should always be evaluated by a professional car accident doctor after a collision to maintain or restore health.
In many cases, first responders are called to your accident to evaluate all the involved parties, especially if you have obvious or severe car accident injuries. These professionals will determine if you need to go to the hospital via ambulance to address serious issues, like a potential spinal or brain injury, or even broken bones that may immobilize you. In the absence of problems like this, you may be responsible for setting up your own medical care after an accident.
It is not uncommon to walk away from your accident feeling completely okay. As a response to the fright of the collision and the chaos in the aftermath, your body may go into shock and protect itself by hiding symptoms of injuries. You are also likely producing extra adrenaline, the hormone associated with fight or flight that allows you to keep going even after a traumatic incident. The combination of these factors means that people often overlook even severe injuries like broken bones, but they can also cause long delays before you notice the symptoms of other injuries.
It may be hours, days, or even months before these effects wear off and you begin to notice symptoms of an injury. If this happens, you should seek medical care as soon as you can. However, one benefit of a car accident doctor is their familiarity with common injuries, meaning they can often diagnose them before you even notice they have occurred. Physical examinations, diagnostic imaging, and astute observation skills can allow them to identify an injury early on and begin treatment early, preventing further pain or worsening of the injury over time.
Additionally, insurance will look for a proactive approach to your injuries, and visiting a doctor shows you are taking steps to be healthy. The closer to your accident you receive a diagnosis, the more easily it can be tied to the accident.
The force of a car accident has an impact on the entire body, meaning that injuries can range from minor and superficial to life-threatening and may impact all parts of the body. The movement itself can cause damage, along with contact made with hard surfaces or airbags, being ejected from the vehicle, fire or chemical burns, or broken bones. Car accident doctors are equipped to treat most injuries, but here are some of the most common:
Each injury can vary in seriousness and will need different treatment, but these are the things a car accident doctor may be looking for before any signs of injury are present.
Car accident doctors can be general specialists, but many clinics are composed of a range of specialists who work together to treat car accident victims from a holistic perspective. Certain areas of expertise are more likely to be brought in for car accidents based on the most common injuries sustained.
Chiropractors: Many times, car accident chiropractors are the first person you will see following an accident as they can address misalignments in the spine and take a natural approach to healing. The non-invasive approach is often good for immediate relief and prevention of injuries worsening.
Physical Therapists: Along with other providers, a physical therapist will focus on helping you to regain strength after an injury. A series of exercises will be designed to stabilize and heal your body and manage symptoms.
Orthopedists: An orthopedic doctor or surgeon specializes in the healing functions of the body relative to the musculoskeletal systems. Pain in the neck, spine, spinal discs, or other bone-specific issues will usually be treated by these doctors. When these problems require more invasive medical treatment than a chiropractor can provide, orthopedic doctors and surgeons will be brought in.
Neurologists: Nerves surround the spine and can often suffer damage during the same impact that causes spinal injuries, or they can be damaged on their own. When there are neurological implications to an injury, a neurologist or neurosurgeon can perform advanced testing and procedures to alleviate these issues. In the case of a brain injury, a neurologist may be an important provider as they can determine the extent of the damage.
Injury Doctors: This is a term for more generalized doctors who can treat many of the conditions mentioned above. An injury doctor will be able to refer you to specialists and provide general guidance related to your injuries.
After an accident, you are likely stressed and dealing with a number of stressful processes. In addition to seeking medical care, you may be communicating with the police, the insurance company, the mechanic, and other parties involved in the accident. Your visit to a car accident doctor should not add more stress to the situation. In fact, one benefit of a car accident doctor is they are experienced in working with insurance companies and other third parties, making your claim process smoother.
Your appointment will start with an in-depth discussion of your medical history, the events of your accident, and any symptoms you are experiencing. This will be accompanied by a physical exam and possibly some simple tests or diagnostic imaging to rule out severe injuries. From there, they will be able to create a treatment plan that is specific to your injuries and goals for recovery. A combination of specialists may be best suited to help manage symptoms and heal your injuries.
Visiting a car accident doctor will allow you to get the type of care that is suited to your needs, your claim, and helps address the root cause of your issues.