What is a traumatic injury? According to most medical experts, the definition of a traumatic injury constitutes sudden physical harm that requires immediate medical attention.
For many, though, traumatic injury recovery is so much more than that. There are physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and cognitive repercussions that must be dealt with.
We’ve assembled a guide to traumatic injuries and how you can help someone recover from one. While this is a difficult period in anyone’s life, the support of loved ones can make all the difference.
Were You An Eyewitness?
Helping someone through the injury recovery period starts on the scene. If you saw it happen or even were part of the accident—an unharmed passenger in a car, for instance—you are incredibly important to their recovery.
Recovery starts at the scene. If the patient is unable to answer for themselves, your testimony makes a huge difference to emergency personnel.
It’s important for you to state how the injury occurred, whether the head was struck, and the force of the injury. If you stayed with them waiting for medical help to arrive, did they lose consciousness? If so, how long were they unconscious?
At this stage, the best help you can offer is your attention to detail and clear communication. Your words can help medical personnel make life or death decisions in the case of a traumatic injury.
This will also help them decide on brain imaging tests, CAT scans, MRIs, and so forth once the patient actually reaches the hospital.
Recovering from a traumatic wound is harder than anyone expects. Whether you need physical therapy, time in the hospital, or quickly receive a clean bill of health, there are complicated emotional and physical consequences.
Many sufferers of traumatic injuries often divide their lives into two portions. There is a ‘before the injury’ and ‘after the injury’. For some people, this division is further complicated by their reactions to the injury.
It’s not just ‘before injury’. It’s ‘before I was afraid of driving’ or ‘before I needed assistance to walk.’
Responding to trauma is incredibly complex, and your loved one will react differently depending on their personality, past traumatic experiences, their physical and mental health at the time of the injury, and so much more.
At this point, it’s important to serve as a medical liaison for them. If you are responsible for their at-home care upon discharge, make sure you cover all of your questions with medical professionals.
You should also know that your loved one might not react how you expect. After trauma, you may expect the injury recovery period to be passive. Lots of rest, sleep, and exhaustion may be expected.
Not everyone responds to trauma in the same way. Instead, they may be easily startled, hyperactive, and unable to settle down and sleep.
Keeping a close eye on their sleep schedule, hydration, and eating habits after they are discharged from medical care can help. It will help you track their recovery, and give you data points to present to their medical professional when necessary.
Dealing with the Emotional Load
If you’re wondering how to recover from injury, or how to help your loved one do so, don’t discount the mental and emotional weight of such invents. Traumatic injury recovery can cause people to rethink their mental health, religious stances, personal beliefs, and approach to life overall.
It’s important to stay alert for signs of PTSD developing after a traumatic event. There are other mental issues that can develop in the aftermath, but PTSD symptoms are the most common.
Don’t push your loved one to ‘get over it’. If they got in a massive car accident, forcing homemade exposure therapy by telling them to ‘get in the car’ won’t help. In fact, it may make things even worse.
In the wake of a traumatic injury, you may notice your loved one forgetting things a lot. Short-term memory challenges and difficulty concentrating are to be expected. The brain and body have been through so much that it’s hard for many to prioritize tasks that require focus or memory.
Emotional reactions are also a common issue during a traumatic injury recovery period. Observe your loved ones and identify gaps where they may need help.
Traumatic injury survivors often withdraw from loved ones and isolate themselves. This is a coping mechanism and a trauma reaction. If they tend to be uncharacteristically worrisome, or afraid of everything, this is part of the healing process.
Dealing with Post-Trauma Emotions
Others take the more emotionally complex route. Survivors’ guilt is tragically common, or they may feel the accident was their fault. Whether this is technically true or not, this path can lead to dangerous mental health declines.
Other patients are frustrated with themselves. Perhaps they know someone who ‘bounced back’, or they feel that given their track record, they should ‘recover faster.’ After being put through a mental and physical wringer, it can be difficult for some people to give themselves grace during the recovery period.
These symptoms should always be met with grace, patience, and understanding. Even if you’ve never been in traumatic injury recovery, extending empathy to your loved one is always a great choice.
It can help them feel supported, and help them resist the urge to shut down and isolate themselves when they start to feel sad or angry.
However, a loved one can also only do so much. If these symptoms persist or get worse, it may be time to contact a therapist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professionals that are trained in post-trauma healing.
Sometimes, if things become overwhelming, a holistic rehabilitation plan is needed. Partnering with a life care planner can help provide comprehensive support for your loved one during recovery.
What Is A Traumatic Injury?
Everyone’s definition of ‘what is a traumatic injury’ is different. An injury could represent minimal physical trauma, but extensive emotional trauma. Every person will react to traumatic circumstances differently.
Taking the time to support your loved ones and get them the help they need makes a big difference. If you enjoyed this article, check out the rest of our posts here.