25.1 Doctors appointments
Now that I have had my injury, why do I have to see doctors?
After a motor vehicle accident you might need to keep seeing doctors. This is because of injuries you received in the incident. You might or might not remember them. These doctors were probably involved in providing care and management in the acute treating hospital (emergency and intensive care) or became involved further down the track as you improved and participated in rehabilitation. This may include specialist doctors in orthopaedics, psychiatry, seeing and hearing, neurosurgery and rehabilitation.
You may not need to see all of these doctors all of the time. Your rehabilitation specialist may be involved in organising who you see and talking with them about your injury management.
You might find it helpful to keep a list of these doctors, why you see them and when you need to go back. You can write your appointments and contact details in your diary or wall calendar (look in Section B Number 12 Managing Your Time).
You may need to see other doctors for your compensation claim. These doctors see you so they can write a report for either your solicitor or your insurance company: It is important that you attend these appointments. The doctors are providing expert opinions and not necessarily treating you.
Who do I see if I get sick?
Not everyone needs to have a regular doctor, particularly if you are young and healthy: You are still able to see any doctor you choose. However, after a brain injury it can be a good idea to see a regular doctor. A regular local doctor can be organised when you return home after being in hospital. This doctor can then be sent information about your accident, your stay in hospital and any relevant medical information about your rehabilitation. This would be the doctor you see for ordinary illness unrelated to your head injury. This doctor will also renew scripts for medication, arrange blood tests, make appointments suggested by your specialist doctor about medical issues following your head injury.
I now have epilepsy, what does this mean?
A head injury can cause a disruption in the electrical pathways of the brain. This can be recorded in an EEG. For some people there is no problem and for others they have fits or seizures. The type of fit they have is usually determined by where the abnormal activity is coming from. Some people will be aware that a fit is going to happen (an aura), some stay alert during the fit and others will wake up confused and disorientated, relying on others to explain what has happened.
What can I do?
Everyone who has fits needs to do their best to minimise the severity of fitting and ensure their own safety. Generally, this means not doing things that bring on a fit (eg bright lights at discos, playing computer games for long periods of time) and not drinking alcohol. It also means seeing your doctor regularly, being consistent with taking your medication as prescribed and having regular blood tests. If there is difficulty with controlling your fits you may be referred to a neurologist.
How do I find out more about epilepsy?
A brochure about post traumatic epilepsy may be available at your local brain injury rehabilitation program and you can also obtain helpful information from the Epilepsy Association of N.5.W.
I get tired quickly, what can I do?
Make sure you have a healthy diet and if not, think about supplementing your diet with vitamins. If you have difficulties with organising and planning your cooking and shopping then check out Section B Numbers 5 and 6, Food, Shopping and Meal Preparation.
Exercise and activities are beneficial. You might get tired because you have lost fitness following the injury and while being in hospital. If you want to improve your fitness then see your physiotherapist or an exercise planner at the local gym. These people can assist with setting realistic goals and monitoring your progress. A physiotherapist can also ensure that the exercise program allows for any mobility and movement problems you may have as a result of your injuries. You might get tired because you are bored.
You might need some assistance to plan alternative activities to those you were doing before the accident or to develop new interests and try different things.
Some times after a head injury it takes more effort to do your usual activities. This includes physical activities as well as thinking tasks. People often tire easily and get fatigued. Some people are more alert in the mornings than in the afternoon. You may sleep more than before. For almost everyone this improves as you recover from your brain injury.
Do not worry about the fact that you fatigue or tire easily; You can set goals to improve your fitness and reorganise important tasks for when you are at your best while recovery occurs.
If you think that you are not improving then make sure you have a healthy diet. Have a check up by your doctor who can organise blood tests and check your blood pressure. You need to make sure that there are no underlying health issues causing your fatigue (e.g. low iron).
I get headaches, what can I do?
Sometimes after a head injury you may experience headaches. Most commonly this is because you are more tense and worried than before your injury. In this case, relaxation and simple analgesia should help. If not, or if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as visual loss or vomiting, it may be migraines that have resulted from the injury.
If headaches persist and do not respond to simple management then see your doctor. Further investigations or medication may be required on a regular basis to prevent rather than cure persisting headaches.
Who can I contact for more information?
For more information you can contact:
- Your local Doctor
- Your Rehabilitation Specialist
- Health Professionals at the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Units.