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Getting to know your Rehab Team following a serious accident in Ontario (Part 1)

This is Part 1, of our 2 part series on getting to know your Rehab Team following a serious accident in Ontario. We have to do this feature in two parts on account of its length and we didn’t want to miss anybody. The second part will be released next week.

After a serious accident (car or otherwise), you will be exposed to a variety of medical and rehabilitation professionals. Some you will see in hospital or rehab facility. Some you will see at home. Others you will see at their office.

Either way, understand who these medical professionals are, and what their role is will help you better understand the rehabilitation process.

This installment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog will introduce you to your rehabilitation team following a serious accident (catastrophic accident, brain injury, orthopaedic injury etc.).

The reality is that money is often the main driver of most anything in our society. These doctors and rehab professionals do not work for free. Some are paid through the OHIP system. Some are paid by a private health insurer. Some are paid directly by car insurers. Some get funded through crowd sourcing! Some will defer payment and get paid upon settlement. Understanding how these doctors and rehab professionals are financed will help innocent accident victims better understand some of the finer financial aspects of their case.

EMERGENCY DOCTOR: This is rather simple. It’s the doctor or doctors who see you in the Emergency Room when you’re admitted to hospital. These doctors work or are contracted to work for the hospital, and they are paid through the OHIP system. You will likely see them once, and then they will admit you to the hospital where you are seen by other doctors, or discharge you in to the community to see your….

FAMILY DOCTOR: Your family doctor will be the most important doctor for your personal injury case. S/he best understands your health because you’ve seen this doctor before your accident. The family doctor can make referrals through the OHIP system to other OHIP funded specialists like orthopedic surgeons, physiatrists, psychiatrists, rheumatologists, neurologists, etc. The family doctor can prescribe you medication to help you get better. The family doctor can make a referral that you attend at a pain clinic, sleep clinic, fibromyalgia clinic etc.. Seeing a family doctor is FREE. Having an empathetic and understanding family doctor will help your case, and will help show the insurer that you are in significant pain and discomfort following a serious accident. Not having a family doctor is problematic for any personal injury case because it makes it more difficult to document the Plaintiff’s pain, suffering and other deficits. Having a bad or unsympathetic family doctor can also harm your case too.  Imagine getting your family doctor on the stand at trial and asking him/her about your accident related pain. If that doctor isn’t supportive of your claim, or if that doctor doesn’t believe in your pain, then they will make a terrible witness for the Plaintiff at trial and ruin your personal injury case. Goldfinger-logo-icon-300x300

PHYSIOTHERAPISTa person qualified to treat disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and exercise.

You may see a physiotherapist while you are a patient at a hospital or rehab facility. You may also see a physiotherapist outside of a hospital or rehab setting. If you see a physiotherapist in a clinical setting, it’s likely that the treatment is NOT covered by OHIP. In fact, the majority of physiotherapy work performed for accident victims outside or a hospital or rehab facility is NOT covered by OHIP. Generally, the treatment is covered by car insurance, or under  a private benefit plan. If there is no coverage for treatment, then the injured accident victim will have to pay for treatment out of their own pocket, which can get expensive. Unlike a family doctor, a physiotherapist CANNOT prescribe medication, or make any referrals to medical specialists. They can however recommend treatment to see other non medical rehab professionals such as a massage therapist, chiropractor, personal trainer, rehab coach, etc.

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST:  I can say with 100% certainty that when it come to client questions about their Rehab Team, most questions arise with respect to the role and duties of the Occupational Therapist. Clients don’t know what they do, or what they’re supposed to do. But our lawyers can tell you that their roles are very important, and they do the lion’s share of the Rehab work.

Occupational therapy is a type of health care that helps to solve the problems that interfere with a person’s ability to do the things that are important to them – everyday things like:

  • Self-care – getting dressed, eating, moving around the house,
  • Being productive – going to work or school, participating in the community, and
  • Leisure activities – sports, gardening, social activities.

Occupational therapy can also prevent a problem or minimize its effects. An occupational therapist works with a client to help them achieve a fulfilled and satisfied state in life through the use of purposeful activity or interventions designed to achieve functional outcomes which promote health, prevent injury or disability.

Injured accident victims will work with an Occupational Therapist in the hospital, rehab facility, and outside the hospital at their home. They will perform all sorts of assessments to ensure that the transition from hospital to home is a smooth one. They will conduct in home OT assessments with a Form 1 in order to determine what your housekeeping, handy person, assistive devices and attendant care needs are. These demands are on going because the health of the injured accident victim is constantly changing. The OT in the hospital and rehab facility setting is paid through OHIP. The OT in the clinical setting is largely paid by private insurance, car insurance or out of pocket by the accident victim themselves. In some circumstances an in home OT visit will be paid by through a government agency like the former CCAC (now Local Health Intelligence Network). The OT cannot prescribe medicine, or make a referral to any medical specialist. They can however accompany the accident victim to his/her various medical appointments and fill the doctor in about the patients level of functioning, pain and suffering. The OT also acts as a rehab quarterback, and is mainly responsible for making referrals to other rehab providers like physiotherapists, social workers, speech language pathologists, rehab coaches, psychologists, chiropractors, massage therapists, home safety assessors, modified vehicle assessors, neuropsychologists etc.

We have only covered a fraction of the doctors, therapists and other health care professionals in this blog post. Part 2 will cover the remainder of the rehab team following a serious accident in Ontario (we hope not to miss anyone).


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