With fewer people driving during shelter-in-place orders, the number of auto accidents and injuries has been cut in half, according to a UC Davis report. For the unlucky half who do end up in an auto accident, it’s not an easy time to get care. What to do?
If you have serious, life-threatening injuries, you’ll have to go to an emergency room. It’s understandable to worry over coronavirus exposure. However, know that Bay Area hospitals prepared well for this crisis well in advance. They have hospital beds available, PPE and strict protocols for separating COVID-19 patients from everyone else.
And the number of hospitalized COVID-19 cases is going down. According to San Francisco Chronicle’s review of state data, there are only 367 COVID-19 patients in Bay Area hospitals, a decline of 30% over the past three weeks.
If you have minor injuries, you have options, but you’ll have to modify your typical treatment plan.
How to Get Care for Auto Accident Injuries During COVID-19
• Call your primary care doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will help you decide between an in-person and virtual visit and recommend treatment. Many physicians are reducing hours, spacing out appointments, and/or moving most patients to online visits. You may have to wait longer for an appointment.
• Your doctor may recommend ice and/or heat packs. Cold helps reduce pain and inflammation and heat loosens the muscles and improves circulation. Packs of frozen peas, hot baths, a hot water bottle and heated wet towels are all good tools to use at home.
• The doc may also recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol or an anti-inflammatory such as Advil or Aleve. Don’t take either without consulting your doctor, because even over-the-counter medications interact with certain prescription drugs and cause side effects.
• If you need physical therapy, you have options. Some physical therapists are open with limited hours. If so, make sure they have increased sanitization, are using PPE, they’re limiting the number of people in the office, and are only seeing patients without COVID-19 symptoms and who have not been in high-risk areas.
If you don’t feel comfortable with an in-person visit, some therapists are conducting appointments via telehealth. They can’t help you stretch during a virtual visit, but they can watch you perform certain movements, identify weaknesses, and provide a rehab plan.
• If you want chiropractic care, you also have options. Chiropractors are considered “essential services” and can therefore see patients. However, due to a decreased volume, many have limited hours. Call ahead. And if you don’t feel comfortable with that much close contact, hold off.
• Acupuncture and massage therapy: Most offices are temporarily closed.
• Other options: Call the nurse advice line offered by your health insurance company. They can answer questions about any aches and pain you may be experiencing.
• Yoga does wonders for chronic back pain. This article offers suggestions for easy poses to try.
• Meditation may help reduce pain. When you quiet your mind, your body relaxes. It also releases endorphins, a feel-good chemical that helps ease pain. Start with five minutes and work up to 15 minutes a day.
A pandemic is not an ideal time to get injured. But if you do, know you have most of the same treatment options available. If you visit a health care provider, follow all of the CDC’s precautions around hand-washing, physical distancing and face coverings.
If your accident is serious enough that you think you have a legal claim, call our office for a free consultation. We’re working from home and here to help.