Most claimants in personal injury cases have sustained physical injuries during an accident. While it is also very possible to receive additional mental and emotional damages as the result of an accident, more individuals walk away with wounds that are visible to the naked eye. These injures usually take weeks, months, or even years to fully heal (if they ever heal completely). Oftentimes, injuries are severe enough to require corrective surgery.
As you learn to live with your new injuries, and as you face the possibility of major surgery, you may feel discouraged and overwhelmed. While functioning on a daily basis with physical limitations can be challenging, healing can be easier if you learn to take care of yourself properly. Particularly for those individuals who have undergone surgery, obeying designated recovery protocol may mean the difference between a quick, full recovery and a slow, painful, and partial one. To help maintain your health and to keep stress levels to a minimum, consider the following recovery tips:
- Follow the doctor’s orders: Strictly following your doctor’s medical advice you is the easiest, fastest way to ensure your successful recovery. Do not pick and choose from the instructions given to you by a medical professional—unfortunately, deciding for yourself which guidelines are “important” will not do anything good for your health. Strictly stick to your medication regimen, follow any recommended dietary regulations, and do not push your body past its current limitations. Limited mobility and functionality can be difficult to deal with, but trying to force your body to do something it isn’t ready for will ultimately mean more injuries and a prolonged recovery.
- Be aware of adrenaline rushes: Many people who are involved in a car accident experience a large rush of adrenaline immediately after. This adrenaline has the ability to dull the pain receptors in your body, leaving you numbed out but feeling “fine.” Even if you believe you are unhurt, do not attempt to go to work or school right after your accident has occurred. Head straight to the doctor, even if that means taking an important day off. Injuries that are not discovered in the first few days post-accident can leave you with devastatingly-longer recovery times. Make it a priority to take care of yourself now so that you do not regret it later.
- Allow nature to help lift your spirits: People who are in recovery are often restricted to bed rest or forced to spend most of their time indoors. Make sure that your rooms have enough oxygen and enough natural sunlight pouring in through the windows. Consider adding potted plants and flowers to help generate oxygen and to make the environment more lively. Bring parts of the outside world inside, and things won’t feel so gloomy. If you are allowed to be mobile, take short walks or even wheelchair rides around your yard and neighborhood.
- Maintain good hygiene habits: If you are feeling under the weather or if you are in pain, it can be tempting to let your daily hygiene routine fall by the wayside. However, it is more important to take care of your body now than ever before! Shower or bathe daily, and continue to brush your teeth, wash your face, change your clothes, etc. Odors tend to gather while people are sleeping or resting, so help yourself stay energized and healthy by maintaining cleanliness.
- Eat and drink with a purpose: While your body is in recovery mode, it is important to only fuel it with the “best” foods and liquids. If you have been given specific dietary restrictions by your medical staff, refer to those before implementing the suggestions in this article. As a general rule, however, it is best to choose foods that are nutrient-dense. You will want to avoid snack foods that contain high amounts of salt and sugar, as your body will have an especially difficult time processing such foods at this time. Make sure you have sufficient amounts of protein, fiber, carbohydrates, and fat in your diet, and drink plenty of water. Keep yourself hydrated and avoid caffeine, focusing on clear liquids that are low in calories. Some recovery “superfoods” to add to your diet include beets, carrots, lemon juice, and mustard greens. If you are consuming protein powders inside of shakes or mixed with milk, make sure to “chew” the liquid—this will help your body produce enzymes and be able to digest the food protein more efficiently.
- Add extra vitamins and minerals: In addition to eating foods that are rich in health-promoting vitamins, consider adding vitamin and mineral supplements to your diet. While your body is working to repair bones, muscles, or tendons, it requires as much help as you can give it. Extra boosts of calcium, iron, magnesium, and other vitamins can help speed up your recovery process by giving your body the strength it needs.
- Be active: If you are allowed to participate in physical activity with your injuries, keep your body active. While you may be limited during your recovery time, even small movements can make a big difference. Lightly bounce on a mini trampoline, use resistance bands, or take walks with friends. Physical activity not only promotes health in your body, but also helps chemically combat the depression that often accompanies victims after their accidents or surgeries.
- Clear your mind: In addition to traditional exercise methods, consider participating in activities like yoga and meditation. Because anxiety, fear, stress, and depression are common side effects of accident-related injury, your mind may become bogged down. Particularly if you are confined to bed rest or stuck inside the hospital or house, it can be difficult to find a place to find relief from weighty thoughts. Learning to quiet your mind and compartmentalize your thoughts can greatly improve your body’s ability to recover. When it comes to meditation, you need to find the method that works for you. This may require a little trial-and-error, but consider starting with bubble baths, massage therapy, aromatherapy, or classical music.
- Train your mind: While the above-mentioned relaxation methods work well for some people, others have a much more difficult time getting their mind to “quit.” If you find yourself unable to naturally calm yourself down from a post-accident stress episode, you may benefit from visualization and cognitive therapy. Talk to your doctor about options to help reduce anxiety and stress.
- Remain above the influence: It is especially important to stay away from substances like alcohol and cigarettes during this period of healing. Your liver needs to work hard to help repair damaged areas of your body, and it cannot do that if you are constantly digesting alcohol. If a drug is not prescribed by your doctor, do not take it. Dangerous, foreign substances in the body will do nothing to improve your condition and will do everything to worsen your overall health.
- Do not attempt to lift anything heavy: For the purposes of this article, “heavy” is defined as about five pounds. If you have recently been in an accident, even if you have not yet had surgery, do not lift anything heavier than a sack of flour. Your muscles will be sore and your pain receptors may not be functioning correctly, which means that you may attempt to lift a very large item without realizing its true size. It is best to err on the side of caution and not ask your body to do more than what it is able.
- Try to stop worrying: Believe it or not, worrying is terrible for your health. Constantly asking yourself questions like “Why aren’t I better yet?” or “Is something else going to go wrong?” will only prolong your healing process. Worrying often leads to self-fulfilling prophecies, meaning that if you sit around worrying about why you aren’t getting better, you probably aren’t going to get any better. As stressful as the weeks and months following an accident can be, try to keep yourself as calm as possible.
At Christensen & Hymas, our job is to work closely alongside injured accident victims. While we realize that nothing can truly make up for the pain and suffering that you have felt as a result of your accident, we promise to do everything in our power to help you obtain fair financial damages for what you have been through. As we continue to fight for your settlement, it is your primary job to focus on your recovery and returning to health. While we cannot ever guarantee a complete or successful recovery, you stand the greatest chance of returning to perfect health if you follow the instructions given to you by your doctor. Much of your recovery will ultimately come down to how well you take care of yourself following your accident and/or surgery.