Coping After a Traumatic Injury

Useful Advice from Your Trusted Medical Rehabilitative Services Company

Whether someone close to you is a victim of a traumatic injury, or you are going through this experience yourself, you may be familiar with the intense emotional strain that is omnipresent during such a time. In addition to the physical pain, you may be going through a huge mental turmoil, including intense feelings of guilt, grief or both. 

At Medical Rehabilitation Centers of Pennsylvania (MRCP), we believe that while physical recovery is critical to alleviate the pain and restore function and mobility, it is equally important to spend time on emotional healing. We continually urge our patients to work towards calming their anxieties and refocusing their minds after any type of injury trauma. 

Although each of us copes with trauma differently, our reactions and phases of emotional recovery usually fall into five broad, universal stages.  Here are some useful details on each phase and how you may transition from one to the other, until you take definitive steps to holistic healing.

The Five Stages of Emotional Recovery

  • Denial: An immediate response following a trauma, you may feel agitated, confused, shocked, or be in disbelief or complete denial of the situation that has occurred. Your refusal to face facts could spur on anxiety-based aches and pains, or also trigger unusual reactions such as excessive aggression or extreme crawl-into-a-shell behavior. While it is completely normal to be in this phase for some time, getting stuck here may be dangerous. For example, we often get patients who face severe sports injuries that result in them having to give up playing their favorite game permanently. As traumatic as that is, there is no point in denying the facts and pursuing that activity against medical advice, as that will only aggravate our physical and emotional trauma.
  • Anger: The “Why me?” syndrome may hit you during the stage of denial, or just after you accept the emotional upheaval that you are going through. Naturally, your anger may manifest itself in different ways. One the one hand, you may find yourself being overly contemplative and re-running the harrowing incident in your mind to picture different outcomes. On the other hand, you may feel extremely irritable, lash out at others, or feel wildly jealous of people around you who were not involved in the incident. It’s normal to be angry with yourself or others, but after a few days, rein in that temper and consider setting a few recovery goals.
  • Bargaining: During this phase, you may experience somewhat similar feelings as being in denial. However, the difference here will be that you may start playing out scenarios to see what can be done to go back to your pre-trauma state of life. The “If I do this, will it go back to…” thought is natural. It is your mind’s fervent attempt to restore normalcy and avoid the actual cause of grief. 
  • Depression: While you want to pull yourself together and not let the circumstances get the better of you, your body is still recovering from the physical pain and your mind may also need some down time after the intense emotions that it has experienced so far. This is when you may slip into a slightly depressed state, with feelings such as “What’s the point?”. At this stage, you will not only grieve for what you have lost, but also imagine a bleak future. It is also common to experience feelings of worthlessness. This is the single most important phase where you must consider surrounding yourself with family, friends and caregivers. Without their love, affection and support, you may find it difficult to move on.
  • Acceptance: While this stage does not indicate a full recovery, in many ways you may feel more positive and calm. By now, you have made peace with your situation, accepted your new normal, and possibly set new goals that you want to work towards in the near future.

While these phases bear resemblance to what most of us experience after a trauma injury, every individual will progress differently, and at their own pace. 

Whether the physical trauma has put a temporary spoke in your wheel or created a permanent situation, the rehabilitation team at MRCP will draw up an extensive plan to restore your functional capacity as closely as possible to the pre-trauma phase. Our goal is to prevent any further injury or deterioration, as well as reduce or reverse the impairment, loss or disability. When you come to us, you will have access to a multidisciplinary team that includes highly qualified and experienced physical therapists, psychiatrists, sports physicians, athletic trainers, rehabilitation workers and emergency medicine experts.

If you are searching for comprehensive medical rehabilitation services in and around Philadelphia or the Greater Philadelphia Area, reach out to MRCP. To book an appointment, call us at the location of your choice or contact us online. 

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