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5 Ways to Practice Self Advocacy in Healthcare After a Bicycle Crash

Bicycle accidents can leave victims with scars – both mental and physical – that require vital healthcare, but sometimes getting the right treatment can be a challenge. For example, a “mild” traumatic brain injury (TBI) can come with symptoms that last months. Extended anxiety or headaches are frustrating and without proper care can potentially interfere with daily life.

Whether it’s a broken clavicle from a dooring or a concussion after hitting your head on the pavement, advocating for yourself in a healthcare setting can become an important part of the healing process. Busy clinics and strained medical staff may not always have enough time or attention to dedicate to each patient and all of their concerns. They may even write-off some symptoms (TBIs are notoriously misdiagnosed). When you are the victim in a bicycle accident, it’s important to know what to do to help you get the best care for your injuries.

These tips may help you better navigate the healthcare system and give you the best shot at a proper recovery.

One: Be persistent

Most all bicycle injuries, especially broken bones, deep gashes, head trauma, don’t disappear overnight, so you’ll have to be persistent in order to advocate for yourself throughout the recovery process.

When you feel like you haven’t received an answer to a question or don’t understand the answer given, ask again. Most doctors are able to explain a diagnosis and the treatment plan clearly and are happy to answer questions. Bicycle injuries can sometimes be complex and traumatic. Medical jargon can be difficult to understand, so asking for an explanation can be beneficial.

Persistence takes practice – the more you ask questions or voice your concerns, the easier it will become.

Two: Ask questions

Nobody leaves their home in the morning expecting to be hurt in a bicycle crash, and unless you’re a healthcare professional yourself, the entire healthcare system can be rather overwhelming to navigate. It can feel impossible to know if a symptom is normal, how long you should expect recovery to take, and whether a full-recovery is even possible. Every injury is different, and that means so is every person’s healing journey.

Even simple questions can feel big, and sometimes it’s daunting to ask them. But if it feels important to you, make a point to speak up. Writing out questions ahead of an appointment can help you remember to ask them, especially in an overwhelming setting. Try prioritizing these questions or concerns. A doctor may not always have time to answer everything in one visit, so make the most out of the available time and get your top questions answered first.

Three: Consider a second opinion 

Asking for a second opinion might seem intimidating, but it might actually help your recovery in the long run. A 2017 study at the Mayo Clinic found that 21% of patients who sought a second opinion left with a completely new diagnosis, while 66% of original diagnoses were deemed partly correct, but refined or redefined by the second doctor.

Other studies have similar results, making a convincing case for opting for that second opinion. If you feel like you need a second opinion, you should seek it out. Knowing your options is an important part of the process and can put your mind at ease that you’re getting the best treatment for your injury.

Four: Keep records of everything

The days, weeks, and even months after an accident can be a blur. Doctors, medications, diagnoses, and second opinions can add up and quickly become confusing. Keeping records of each visit, medications, follow-up appointments and treatment plans helps for a few different reasons:

  1. When you’re working with an attorney, it will be helpful to know how much compensation is needed to cover your medical costs. These bills can add up with each visit or medication, so keeping track of them will help ensure that you’re getting what you are entitled to.
  2. Having records on hand will mean that you’ll quickly be able to point to a treatment or medication when a doctor asks or if you have a question or concern. If a treatment hasn’t worked, you’ll be able to point to it. This can help doctors make better informed decisions and develop personalized treatment plans.

In addition to the treatment itself, having a master list of important information (phone numbers, emails, addresses, etc.) for your doctors and pharmacy can make it easier for you to get into contact with them quickly.

Five: Have an ally 

Navigating every doctor appointment and treatment plan is often a lot for one person to handle on their own, especially when they aren’t feeling their best. Having a partner, friend, or trusted ally to be with you through doctor’s visits is helpful because they can bring a clear head to the equation, speak up when necessary, and take notes so that you can be fully present for the visit.

Make sure this is somebody you trust. A companion can serve as your back-up brain and reinforce confidence when you have questions or concerns.

They can also help you recall important details from the meeting. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 90% of Americans say they don’t fully understand or remember what to do after a doctor’s visit.

A second pair of ears gives you a better chance at a healthy recovery.