Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tips For Those Who Drive

“It Won’t Happen To Me…”

…are the words we all have said or thought at some point in our life.  Often, we are wrong.  Though “it” may not happen to us, it still could. We are all susceptible to chance, luck of the draw, and so many circumstances just out of our control.  Life is not like the reality show, “Survivor”…none of us hold special immunity protecting us differently than that of another person.

One example of “it won’t happen to me thinking” are ACCIDENTS, in particular, vehicular accidents.  I know you don’t think it applies to you, perhaps not at this moment and hopefully never, but then again you just don’t know.  So don’t let this message be like other times in your life when you’ve thrown something away, and then found you could have used it after it’s been discarded.

Intellectually, you know all the reasons that during your driving lifetime, you may be involved in a motor vehicle collision.  Such as you are at risk the more hours you spend on the road.  Traffic conditions and weather play a part, inexperienced, and inattentive drivers, eating in the car, putting on makeup, using cell phones, road hazards, construction and much, much more.  You get it.  Driving is like walking in a mine field.  We spend a huge amount of time driving or being driven.  You need to be prepared should the unexpected happen.

I’d like to share some tips should you or a loved one should ever be involved in a motor vehicle collision. Obviously, I’m not an attorney, so I’m not doling out legal advice only some tips from experience.  I have an attorney in my family, a good friend who is an attorney and several patients who are attorneys.  I also have patients who are in law enforcement.  I have patients who are insurance adjusters and you know I’ve treated thousands of patients over twenty plus years who have been in accidents.  People forget this sometimes because I have a wellness practice, but I do treat trauma.  Therefore, I want you to learn from this collective body of knowledge.   I’m an old Eagle Scout (getting older every second).  I believe in being prepared.  You may not need this information now, but you might in the future or it may benefit a friend or loved one.  Or even you in the future.  (I pray not.)

I am about to share some secrets that your well-meaning medical doctor may not know and insurance companies definitely don’t want you to know and could possible hide from you.  These secrets are important even if you’ve just been in a “fender bender”.  Also, I’ve created a special card for you to keep in your vehicle with some facts and steps to take should you have an accident.

It’s FREE for you!  Just come by my office and pick up a few.  I have plenty.  A sample can be viewed at the end of this report.

I have found most people to be God loving, family oriented, work like crazy to feed and care for their family folk, who don’t want to take advantage of anyone (including insurance companies).  All they want is their vehicle fixed or replaced, their injuries healed and to get back to their lives after an accident!

Unfortunately, it’s usually not that simple.  There’s more involved and the last thing you need or want is to have residual health problems down the road.  You can always buy a new car, but you are living in your body forever.  So you better repair it the best way possible, as fast as possible!  While it may be inconvenient to undertake treatment because it takes time out of your busy schedule…your future depends on it.  Do you want to set aside time now or be robbed of it in the future?

I urge you to seek help with any symptoms you may have, however minor they may seem.  Don’t have obvious symptoms?  Still get checked!  Many symptoms can “show up” further down the road after you’ve closed the case with the insurance company.  During a thorough examination, signs or symptoms can be elicited by the doctor that you may not have noticed.  Remember the doctor will look for less than obvious problems and will likely want to take x-rays to check for internal spinal problems.

Thinking you’ll get better on your own or with some pain medications can be a big mistake and won’t heal the biomechanical (musculoskeletal) and neurological damage that occurs to our bodies when they’ve been traumatized.  I’m sure your medical doctor is caring and proficient however, he or she is ill prepared to treat you through a soft tissue recovery process.  They can give you meds and send you on your way, but they can’t actively treat you.  You need a doctor trained in these types of traumas to care for the body and layers of damage sustained by the spinal nerves, muscle, tendons, ligaments and joints.  Frankly, you need a chiropractor.  One that can co-manage your recovery (healing) with other medical professionals who specialize in trauma when or if needed.  Some people do need additional testing such as MRIs or nerve tests.  Others may even need pain management injections in conjunction with receiving chiropractic and physical therapy treatment.

Obviously, if you live locally, I’ll be happy to help should the unexpected happen to you.  But if not, please find a chiropractor to assist in your recovery.

Some facts to consider:
1)      Although the “rear-ender” type of accident represents only 20% of motor vehicle accidents, it causes over 80% of injuries giving long-term and persistent symptoms. [i] [ii]
2)      A surprised accident victim does not have a chance to brace for impact which can result in more serious injury to the spine and nervous system. [iii]
3)      An older accident victim will generally suffer a more serious injury because of decreased elasticity, dramatic loss of flexibility and strength, and slowing of the natural healing rate. [iv]
4)      In general, a woman’s lighter musculature means that she will have a higher incident of injury. [v]
5)      In a typical collision, having the head turned to one side such as when talking to another passenger, can dramatically increase the amount of neck injury. [vi]

Several myths associated with whiplash injuries are:
1)      If you’re hit from behind at low speed, you won’t be injured. 
2)      The more damage to your vehicle, the more severe your injuries. 
3)      If you’re injured, the injuries will completely heal within one to three months.

Here’s an exercise for you:

Make a list of all those things you enjoy, want to do now and in the future.  Maybe it’s… play golf, lift the kids and grandkids, ride bikes, play sports,  boat, fishing, or simply sit comfortably watching movies, tennis matches, or at a concert.

Now envision your life without these things or trying to do them with neck or back pain, headaches, weakness, numbness and tingling in the limbs…that’s not much fun is it?  In fact, it’s miserable.

Here is one critical tip worth its weight in gold that you must act on now.  Yes, even if you have not had an accident.  Please call your insurance agent and verify that you have personal injury protection (aka, PIP) on your policy.  If you don’t have it, have your agent add it immediately.  PIP in Texas is voluntary and has three coverage amounts—$2,500, $5,000 and $10,000.  This pays for your medical bills, so you don’t have to pull money out of your pocket for doctor’s visits.  There’s all kinds of scenarios where this is important such as being hit by an uninsured motorist (in Texas, this is real likely), or being in a hit and run.

Suppose you needed diagnostic testing such as an MRI?  That could cost $1500.    So you can see that medical bills can escalate quickly.  It’s better to be prepared with adequate coverage.

Just a short note on attorneys; this is a hot topic for many people and I don’t want to offend anyone, hurt feelings or be disrespectful.   Like anything else in life, there are good and bad in all professions.  There are good attorneys and not so good attorneys.  I’ve seen patients use attorneys that have done great jobs for them, effectively handling their case to the satisfaction of all.  But, I’ve also seen cases where my patient really gets jammed up financially thinking they were being taken care of only to have the attorney dump them, or foul up their case in court.  I was once involved in a case for my patient where I was called as an expert witness.  During the trial, the judge reprimanded the attorney (of my patient) multiple times in court for things he did or didn’t do that was harming his client’s case!  

A good attorney can be very helpful, worth having, and likely you’ll never have to go to court.  A bad attorney can really ruin your case and create unnecessary stress in your life.

Interestingly, the insurance companies know who they can push around and who they can’t.  They have lists!

Just recently one of my patients of many years had an accident on the loop 610.  She was shaken up, but she remembered the bright red postcard I had given her and used the information on the card.  She was happy she had it.  Fortunately, she didn’t need any care other than a couple of days of treatment with me, nor did she need an attorney.  All worked out well for her.

It can happen to you. 
Be prepared.
Know what to do. 
Be informed. 
See your chiropractor. 
Seek good legal counsel.
(A good attorney will tell when you don’t need legal representation.)
Have adequate personal injury protection.

Please don’t sign up for a life of chronic pain and diminishing health simply because you “thought you’d be fine”, there was minimal car damage, or you didn’t want to take the time up front to treat your body.

I am at your service and hope to be the chiropractor you wish you had in your family.


Dr. Rick Barrett

[i] Incidence and Duration of Neck Pain Among Patients Injured in a Car Accident, Deans GT (16986), Br. Medical Journal, 292:94-95

[ii] The Whiplash Syndrome, Mcnab, I, (1971) Orthopedic Clin North Am 2 (389-403).

[iii] Controlled Automobile Rear-End Collisions, An Investigation of Related Engineering and Mechanical Phenomena.  Severy, DM, Mathewson, JH, Bechtol, CO, Canadian Services Medical Journal, 11:727-758.

Neck Strain in Car Occupants: Injury Status After Six Months and Crash Related Factors, Emol and Horeguchi, Ryan, G.A., et al, Sept., 1994 pages 533-537.

[iv] Effect of Age and Loading Rate on Human Cervical Spine Injury Threshold, Pintar, F.A., Yoganandan, N., Voo, L., Spine, Sept. 1998, Vol.23 (18), pp 1957-62.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Turek Orthopedics Principles and their Applications, Lippincott, 1977, p. 740, Stuzenegger, et al., 1977, p 740.

Monday, June 1, 2015

About Your Donations and Prayers...

Our medical mission team was highly successful this year once again in part because of your support.
Thank you!
Yes, as usual I did most of the work while everyone else took siestas most of the time!
Okay…the truth…We had forty-four extremely hard working team members;
Translators (Spanish and Cabecar)
Support and logistics
We worked in wet weather due to the start of the rainy season in Costa Rica.  By the end of the week, we were wet, exhausted, muddy and somewhat beat up!  We looked forward to returning home to some sunshine. 
Fat chance!  It’s worse here than in Costa Rica!
I’m sick of the rain…I know you are too.  I pray none of you have had flooded homes. 
With the cash donations collected at my office we were able to select some extremely deserving Cabecar Indians to help.  The money was able to purchase bags of beans, rice and sugar.  Approximately thirty-five little care packages were made and then distributed based on questions we asked.  They were all deserving.  Many had walked with kids in tow through the mountains, in the rain, same with horses and walking eight to twelve hours!  Twelve was the longest time I knew of by inquiring of one of my patients.
One Cabecar woman traveled with her six year old daughter for hours on foot from deep in the reserve to our clinic site.  They had nothing but a little bag of clothing.  The little girl had been suffering from cardiac and respiratory issues for several years.  The mother told us that when they were able to see doctors, they weren’t of much help.  We don’t know why, but somehow the six year old girl had two surgeries and needed a third!  She was very eager to see our pediatrician for help and counsel.  They were given a hot meal to eat and the care package from you.
Another Cabecar woman traveled with a one week old baby by foot with nothing for twelve hours to see our doctors.  They stayed in the hostel on church grounds the night before clinic started—a simple structure with wooden benches, a basic shelter to stay out of the elements.  There are no comforts though it has an outdoor stove.  If they have food, they can cook.  Pots and some utensils are there for their use.  Apparently, all respect it and leave it for others to use.  After waiting to be seen by the various doctors and dentists, they finished around 2 p.m. and began their long trek home.
The hostel can accommodate quite a few families at a time.  We met four to five of them.  Some bring chickens to slaughter for food, others just some rice or whatever they have at the time. 
I hope this provided a little view of our mission and the people who were helped.
Quite humbling really.
Can you imagine working outdoors and living in less than desirable accommodations everyday with the rain we are experiencing?
It sheds a different light on what we think of our own problems with or without the rain.
Thanks again for your personal contributions.  If you’d like to see a few pictures, go to http://barretthealthcenters.com/medical-missions/costa-rica-mission-trip-2015.html

Dr. Rick Barrett
P.S.  I reprinted photos from last year’s mission, hung them up for the people to see and take if they or someone they knew was in it.  It was a simple thing that brought big smiles and tremendous happiness to all who saw them.  (Another thing we take for granted…photos!)