The road to recovery from a catastrophic injury is long and arduous not only for injured workers but also for those who love and support them through the rehabilitation process. Experienced case managers know that recovery is a team effort. Managing everyone’s expectations and addressing the wide variety of emotions are essential components of a successful rehabilitation.
The Aftermath of Injury
For those suffering from catastrophic injury, the pain isn’t just physical. The recovery process often involves feelings of grief, anger and despair as the injured person begins to adjust to the future that s/he faces. These feelings can extend beyond the injured worker to family members, who may have a difficult time reconciling the worker’s emotional state with their own. While the injured worker’s memory of the accident and immediate aftermath may be blurry, friends, family and co-workers present at and immediately after the incident may remember the injury and its aftermath in vivid detail. These powerful feelings can impact the support network, which can greatly affect a person’s road to recovery.
Normal routines with family and friends that were taken for granted may become significant sources of stress in their new life. If injuries impact mobility, such as requiring the use of a wheelchair, this can limit use of transportation and access to family and friends. Traveling to places such as the grocery store, friends’ homes, support groups and other public places may suddenly become an issue.
In addition, the strain of caregiving can take a toll on those new to the role. While the injured worker might feel like a burden or may be coping with complex feelings resulting from his or her sudden dependence on others, likewise caregivers may feel a sense of guilt when putting their own needs first.
Case Managers: Managing the Road Ahead
The role of a case manager is essential when it comes to navigating the road to rehabilitation. Case managers who take a comprehensive approach to care management are vital in a number of ways:
1. Identifying the support network. Understanding the role each person plays in the injured worker’s support network allows the case manager to better assess areas of need and facilitate the course to recovery. This can include encouraging peer-to-peer support or guiding people to community-based resources that can serve as additional avenues of support.
2. Educating caregivers. Teaching members of the support network about the complexities of the health care system is vital. This can range from understanding the terminology used in catastrophic injury cases to navigating medical treatment options.
3. Identifying areas of concern. Case managers are on the front lines to be able to identify any unhealthy coping mechanisms and spot relationships that may hinder the progress of an injured worker’s recovery.
Paradigm Outcomes understands the vital importance of an injured worker’s support system. Our teams take an inclusive approach to the patient’s care, ensuring that loved ones are able to actively and successfully participate in the rehabilitation process. Learn more about Paradigm’s comprehensive approach to catastrophic injury case management by visiting our website, as well as our blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter pages.