We are living in a very difficult time. The coronavirus has upended the world as we knew it and has forced us all to dramatically alter our lifestyles. Our medical system and its infrastructure have been stretched to capacity with COVID-19 patients. Doctors, nurses, paramedics and all involved in our frontline care have been working nonstop. They are true heroes in our society and we can't thank them enough. With their efforts and dedication, we will eventually come out of this dark period and get back to a more normal way of life. A "new normal" as many are predicting.
One consequence (and there are many) of the current strain on our healthcare system is that people who need non-urgent medical care for accident related injuries are being required to wait for care. For example, we represent people injured in accidents through no fault of their own. These are clients injured in car accidents, work injuries, slip and falls, construction site accidents etc. Our clients often suffer serious, but not always life-threatening injuries. During normal times clients have ample access to orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, physical therapists, chiropractors etc. to treat them and help them recover from their injuries. But today people injured during the pandemic are finding that they are unable to get the care they need. The coronavirus is a highly contagious virus and the risks associated with its continued spread has made non-life supportive medical care much more difficult to receive. Surgeries of all types are being canceled and rescheduled to a time when the virus is either eradicated or sufficiently contained. Clients in need of care for shoulder, neck, knee and back injuries just aren't able to get in person doctor visits like before.
So, what can a person do if they are unfortunate enough to sustain an injury during this pandemic? Below are five suggestions and some resources that are available and may help.
1) If Your Injury is Serious Go to the Emergency Room
Obviously, serious and life-threatening injuries are still being treated in emergency rooms across the state. What constitutes an injury that requires emergency room care? Any injury in which you sustained head trauma, a laceration requiring sutures, a broken bone or sustained internal injuries due to trauma should be addressed immediately and in an urgent care setting. These are not the type of injuries to wait on treatment. If you have been involved in a serious accident, go to the ER and get checked out.
2) Take Advantage of Telehealth Options if Your Injuries Are Not Life-Threatening
Injuries such as strains, sprains, torn ligaments etc. do not often require urgent care visits. Many, if not most, primary care physicians (PCP’s) have quickly embraced the use of video technology to see patients. I personally have used this option recently with my doctor and I was amazed at how effective it was and how easy it was to use. Honestly, I think for routine visits, it's going to be used much more extensively even after this crisis has passed.
Often clients who sustain a soft tissue injury (any type of sprain strain whiplash torn ligaments or tendons) will need some form of physical therapy to help them heal and regain strength and mobility. This type of therapy is difficult to receive via telehealth, but it is not impossible, and it is being done with very good results.
Our main office is in Chelsea Ma. and we have another office located in Salem Ma. We reached out to several local physical therapist to learn how each is handling their patients during this crisis. I was pleasantly surprised to find that excellent care is still available to clients, but the method of delivery has changed to accommodate obvious health concerns.
Carlo Carpentieri, PTA, President of Performance Physical Therapy with clinics in Revere and Chelsea says the use of telehealth visits has been very effective. According to Mr. Carpentieri, “Performance utilizes an online platform called doxy.me which is a free and secure telemedicine platform to receive live one-on-one interaction with a physical therapist. Patients can be taught effective treatment options from home. Physical therapists teach patients how to do many effective rehabilitation exercises in the comfort of their own home. Also, most insurance companies are waiving co-pays and deductibles during this crisis to encourage people to stay home and help flatten the curve.”
Similar procedures are being followed by Comeback Physical Therapy which owns and operates therapy locations in Chelsea, Revere, Dorchester, Mattapan, Worcester and Brockton. According to Kate Machowski, a marketing executive with Comeback, “these have been very challenging times, but Comeback PT is committed to providing the care the patients deserve whether through telemedicine visits or by safe in person visits.”
3) If an In Person Visit with a Doctor or Physical Therapist is Needed Be Sure You Ask About Their Safety Protocols Before You Show Up.
Obviously, there may be situations that require you to visit an orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist due to your injuries. We've learned that many are still seeing patients but have dramatically altered their processes and procedures to maintain the safety of both staff and patients. Before you visit a doctor or therapist, call them and get a very specific list of what they're doing to make in person visits safe.
Mr. Carpentier of Performance Physical Therapy told us at his locations in person visits are handled as follows: (a) only one patient is allowed in the clinic at any given time. (b) the patient's temperature is taken prior to entering the clinic by use of a non-contact thermal thermometer. (c) each patient must answer a detailed written questionnaire designed to assess their risk. (d) each patient is given a mask and a pair of gloves to wear. (e) each physical therapist wears gloves, mask and a face shield during their interaction with patients. (f) once the patient leaves the clinic the area where they were treated is disinfected prior to allowing another patient into the clinic.
(4) Be Diligent with Your at Home Exercises, They Work!
It may be hard to resist the temptation to binge watch Netflix while at home recovering from an injury and assuming that just resting is the best course of action. But it absolutely isn't. According to Eric Goldberg, PT, DPT, CMDT, CSCS. who is both an owner and head physical therapist at Performance Physical Therapy, “the worst thing you can do after a soft tissue injury is to rest too much. He explains that our bodies adapt to the levels of stress we regularly subject them to. Rest too much after an injury and it is much more difficult to regain the strength, mobility and endurance in the injured muscles.” Our bodies were designed to move and a physical therapist, whether via telemedicine or in person visit, can teach and guide you through the safe, progressive, movements that can help you heal properly.
5) Don't Neglect the Legal Aspects of Your Accident and Injuries.
Remember, if your injuries resulted from a car accident or a work accident you may have legal rights that need to be addressed promptly. Although many people are home now and not working or driving much, others considered essential are working and driving more than ever. Unlike medical care that often requires you to travel to a doctor, many lawyers can assist you without the need for an in person visit. At Spada Law Group, we are conducting all new client intakes via video. We use platforms that are convenient for our clients such as Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp etc. If you have a valid case and documents need to be signed, we simply email everything to you and you can sign what needs to be signed via DocuSign. By the time any in person visits are necessary in your case this crisis will be long gone. Also, by waiting too long to contact an experienced injury attorney you could hurt your chances of successfully pursuing your case at a later time. Often, soon after an accident work needs to be done to support your case. Witnesses may need to be contacted, photos may need to be taken and communication with insurance companies a much better handled by an experienced injury attorney than you who is at home recovering from an injury.
Our Best Advice
The best thing you can do if you are injured in an accident and want to be fairly compensated is to understand your legal rights before you make any decisions. Before you speak to an insurance company adjuster, sign or submit any paperwork or hire a lawyer, you owe it to yourself to get as much information as you can, so you can make a smart decision on what you need to do next. At Spada Law Group, we offer free consumer guides and videos that answer many of the questions car accident victims have. Take a look, download our free information or contact us for a free consultation. Learn what Spada Law Group is all about and how we might be the right personal injury lawyers for you.
So please, stay safe, healthy and positive. This craziness will pass, and we will adapt to our new normal. If we can be of any help on any topic, law or otherwise, please do not hesitate to reach out. We truly want to be of any help we can during these trying times.