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No-Fault Psychologist for Car Accident Victims in New York


Involvement in motor vehicle accidents is a widespread experience for Americans. A motor vehicle accident (MVA) is also commonly referred to as traffic accident, motor vehicle collision, motor vehicle accident, car accident, automobile accident, road traffic collision (RTC), road traffic accident (RTA) or car crash.

Motor vehicle accidents can cause serious physical injury to the brain such as concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), post-concussion syndrome (PCS), closed head injury (CHI), or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Injuries to the head, face, neck, back, shoulders, arms, legs, knees and feet include scrapes, bruises (contusions), strains, sprains, lacerations, dislocations and fractures. Injuries to the neck may also include whiplash, cervical radiculopathy and disc injury while injuries to the back may include disc injury, thoracic spine injury, lumbar radiculopathy and lumbar spine injury.

The focus of treatment of victims of motor vehicle accidents is primarily physical; the psychological assessment and treatment of the accident victim is usually ignored. Without psychological treatment, some victims of motor vehicle accidents suffer unnecessarily from emotional or psychological/behavioral difficulties. The psychological effects of motor vehicle accidents range from feelings of anxiety (specific to driving situations) to the development of significant distress, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

Some victims of motor vehicle accidents incur trauma to the head that is often undetected. Even a slight accident can cause extreme personal discomfort and reduce efficiency in a variety of ways and impair a person's ability to return to work. Head injury survivors are often impaired but the cause and consequences of these problems are frequently not recognized by physicians, family members or even the victims themselves. Patients with mild head injury may exhibit no symptoms until they attempt to resume normal activities at work, school or at home. At such time, many have difficulties completing tasks that are routine. These problems may include memory loss, inability to concentrate, a lack of organization, slow information processing, short attention span, loss of abstract thinking ability, emotional instability, fatigue, headache, loss of inhibitions, sleep disturbance and loss of libido. Head injury patients who return home believing they are well often fall victim to a host of psychological problems in addition to whatever neurological damage might have occurred. Patients are not able to return to their formal level of competence and usually do not realize the nature of their problems. When patients are diagnosed as being "back to normal," they expect to be able to return to their past activities without difficulty. Once they are unable to meet these previous expectations, frustrations and additional psychological problems may develop. Psychological care is critical to the patient's ability to recover.

Chronic physical pain and disability is also a cause of psychological distress following a motor vehicle accident. Pain and the alteration of lifestyle adversely interacts with the subsequent emotional adjustment to the motor vehicle accident. The interaction with physical and emotional factors can be very powerful. This turns out to be one of the potentiating variables for chronic PTSD as well as chronic psychological distress associated with the physical injury.

MVA survivors require immediate attention for their psychological problems. They need to resume a life free from anxiety and depression that includes driving and travel. Patients often develop fear, panic, specific phobias to driving as well as depression related to pain, disability and loss of function. A significant number of MVA survivors will require evaluation and treatment and ongoing help to recover from their difficulties. Behavioral Medicine Associates provides that treatment for motor vehicle accident sufferers. BMA has specialized in treating this group of patients for over thirty years and has developed a series of specific and effective cognitive behavioral techniques to help these patients cope more effectively with their difficulties. The goal of treatment is to return the person to their pre-accident state and allow them to continue enjoying life.

In New York State, when a person is involved in a motor vehicle accident, no-fault automobile insurance covers the medical and psychological treatment. The psychologists at BMA provide care under the no-fault system; we have treated thousands of car accident victims and are familiar with the administrative issues related to no-fault. BMA also provides neuropsychological evaluation in these no-fault cases. BMA has offices throughout the New York Metropolitan area in which our psychologists treat no-fault patients.

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