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High Impact & Motor Vehicle Accidents

"According to the paper Victims of Traffic Accidents and Prevention of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Brom, Kleber and Hofman) accident victims tend to compulsively re-experience parts of the accident or the whole event. They have a tendency not to remember what happened, be unwilling to discuss the event, or feel emotionally numb. They experience feelings of guilt, depression, behavior changes, feelings of anger and anxiety, and sleeping disturbances that can last for months, or even years." - Crash Course, Diane Poole Heller, page 3

Types of accidents

There are many types of accidents where someone can be injured by falling, colliding or otherwise experience a large impact to their body. Automobile accidents are extremely common in this category, but there are many other kinds of high impact trauma (skiing, bicycling, falling from a ladder...)

Even in accidents when you weren't physically injured, there could still be considerable traumatization.

Characteristics that can lead to trauma

  • A lot happens in a short, very fast interval of time.

  • There is often an element of surprise.

  • Sometimes a loud or frightening sound accompanied the accident.

  • People are often enclosed (ex - in a car) and immobilized (ex - by a seatbelt).

  • There is a flood of input to our vestibular system

    • Sudden changes in our orientation to gravity

    • Mass acceleration or deceleration

  • There is no time for preparatory movement.

What is trauma?

Trauma is essentially incomplete responses to stimuli. When things that happen that are too big or too much to process in any one moment happen, our nervous systems hold onto those impulses until we find a way to complete them. This is fine and totally normal; it's just the way our biology works. And, it can be very challenging if one doesn't know what's going on or how to address it. Our bodies can replay unresolved visceral and emotional experiences from a trauma until we resolve it. The good news is that resolution is very achievable. (Though it could be uncomfortable in the process.)

How to resolve this lingering trauma?

If I have space, I am happy to work with you. I am very familiar with nervous systems and trauma resolution.  Since I have geared my practice to working with people who have experienced relational, developmental or attachment trauma, my inspiration to share this information is more as a PSA to send to car accident attorneys. And, I'd still happy to work with or have a further conversation.

If you'd like to further look for someone who is nervous system- and trauma-informed to work with, here are some key words and modalities to search:

Somatic Experiencing

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Organic Intelligence

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