How can occupational therapy help after a car accident?

an occupational therapist explaining to a patient what they need to do after a car accident using hand gestures while sitting down

If you’ve experienced a car accident or a significant personal injury, you may not know where to turn to in this state of emotional and physical stress. Are therapies covered by insurance? And who can help recover carefully and correctly? At Revival Rehabilitation Centre, this is what we specialize in so we are going to answer all your questions so you will know what to do in the future if you or a loved one experiences an injury of this extent. Of course, we hope that you will bypass any injuries and lead a healthy life, but better be safe than sorry! 

We asked our Registered Occupational Therapist, Katie Walsh, to weigh in.

Occupational Therapy After Car Accident

One thing that can help you recover from an injury after a car accident is occupational therapy. Many people don’t know what OT is: The main goal of occupational therapy is to help clients regain function to be as active as possible in daily life. 

How does occupational therapy work?

First, there is an initial assessment done by an occupational therapist to understand the scope of injuries and limitations of the client. Occupational therapists consider all factors of a client’s life to assess the impact their injuries have on their life.

One model of practice is the PEO (Person, Environment, and Occupation):

  • Person Factors: the client’s injuries (physical, mental, cognitive), their personality, their strengths, their coping skills (adaptive or maladaptive).
  • Environment Factors: who does the client live with, what does their home look like, what is their support network at home, how accessible is the home, are amenities close by or does the client have to drive a lot?
  • Occupation Factors: includes client’s paid employment (duties/responsibilities), but also unpaid occupations as well such as caregiving tasks (children and/or older parents), or school and or volunteer commitments.

OTs consider all factors to determine what kind of support the client will need and the type of treatment that will work for them. Occupational therapists work to get the person back to normal life with some adjustments for the injuries. The main goal of occupational therapy is to help clients regain function as much as possible by maximizing regular daily activity. We also provide treatment options based on symptoms and physical, cognitive, and emotional consequences.

Occupational therapy treatment is client-centred and focuses on achieving the client’s goals. 

What are examples of effective occupational therapies?

OT treatment may look like any of the following, custom-tailored to the client’s needs: 

  • Creating new schedules, 
  • Learning new coping skills/strategies, 
  • Engaging in leisure pursuits (ex. Painting, baking, exercise), 
  • Learning adaptive techniques to assist with dressing and cleaning tasks, 
  • Providing therapeutic support, 
  • Trialling and recommending adaptive equipment, 
  • A gradual return to work, 
  • Exploring adaptations and accommodations with school, 
  • Assisting with alternative employment if unable to return to previous work, 
  • Ergonomics and body mechanics of everyday activities.

Does OHIP cover occupational therapy? 

While you are hospitalized for your injuries, occupational therapy is covered by OHIP if you live in Ontario. When you are discharged from the hospital, you will then need to retain private OT, which will not be covered by OHIP.

Does my insurance cover occupational therapy?

Your health insurance through an employer or a personal plan usually covers a standard of 80% of occupational therapy expenditures and you are responsible for the remaining 20%. The amount covered per year depends on your plan and usually ranges from $500 to $1500.

Recovery after a car accident: what to do and not to do

If you’ve experienced a car accident, make sure you seek proper medical attention at a hospital and get plenty of rest. Get a treatment plan from an occupational therapist and follow it. Seek help from other medical professionals like Physical Therapists and Registered Massage Therapists if your doctor recommends it. Gently introduce activity and socializing and slowly return to regular activities without exacerbating your injuries. Don’t pretend you are fine if you are not, even if you think you were unaffected. Go to the hospital after a car accident to make sure you don’t have a concussion. Don’t engage in vigorous exercise or activity that can make your injuries worse.

We are here to help you recover from a car accident with registered medical health professionals, a client-centred approach, and we will even deal with the insurance for you. Let’s get you back to your health, together!