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Home » Health Professionals » Physical Injuries » The injury cycle

The injury cycle





THE INJURY CYCLE -  What injured workers, their employers and support people need to know and do.


An injury can be complex and therefore need a strong plan to ensure the personhas optimal chance for a full recovery. This table will provide information as a guide of what is available.




ACUTE (trauma) PHASE




The body (or the mind following a critical incident) is traumatized and may be in a state of shock  Initial medical and paramedical assessments are carried out to identify the nature and extent of trauma 

One or more treatments are usually implemented with goal of “curing” the injury or injuries.  With major or multiple injuries a range of more sophisticated and expensive investigative procedures may be performed e.g. CT scans, MRI scans, bones scans, ultrasound, nerve conduction studies.

It is important to remember that in all injuries and illnesses the treating doctor or professional does not make you better, he or she only stimulates your own body’s ability to heal itself.


Despite time having passed and a range of  treatments tried there are residual problems  from the injury.

There may be complications from the injury itself.

There are frequently secondary and tertiary problems that may be as bad or worse than the injury itself – physical pain can lead to sleep loss, further irritability and depression.

Persisting injury difficulties can result in inability work, unemployment and financial problems.

Relationship difficulties are common.

Hobbies and interests previously undertaken can no longer be carried out and frequently new ones have not been taken up.



May last from a couple of minutes e.g. a small nick from shaving to several months after a major injury or surgery where there are multiple injuries involved.


May be a couple of days for relatively minor injuries up to several years for more complex injuries.

Usually at least 3 months post injury but  usually 6 to 12 months on



In most injuries there is much emphasis placed upon rest.  The objective is to stabilise the injury and move beyond any life-threatening situation to the treatment phase. 


A wide range of treatments may be implemented or proposed and will be dependent upon the nature of the injury, the training and preferences of the treating practitioner and the relative cost/ benefit of that treatment.


Emphasis changes from active treatment to strategies for dealing with a chronic injury.

These include individual or group pain management programs work hardening, fitness programs.

There is also an emphasis away from high dose analgesia to using alternative pain management strategies.


Stabilising injury, preventing complications

Finding and implementing the most effective treament/s to stimulate the bodies own healing processes.


Fitness upgrading, non-pharmaceutical  means of pain control, assistance with programs for long tem injury adjustment.


Relapse  -  with major trauma or illness the stabilized organ or limb bleeds uncontrollably or stops working – after  “heart attack”  there is a cardiac arrest –that is it stops working and requires immediate resuscitation

With less serious injuries relapse or a delayed healing process may occur if patient does not rest sufficiently or moves into active treatment phase prematurely

There are many issues:

  • There are often discrepancies in opinion about diagnosis and what treatments will work.  These are  frequently motivated by the potential cost of a proposed treatment particularly when the treatment is being paid for by a third party such as an insurer
  • Lack of information by treating practitioners about true diagnosis, what treatments will work, what is the probability of success, what is the prognosis, likely long term complications.
  • Inadequate investigation and misdiagnosis can result in inadequate or inappropriate treatments.  On the other hand there can be excessive costly investigations being ordered that are unlikely to result in new information for a different or better cure or a change in prognosis.
  • Lack of knowledge about true diagnosis,  prognosis and what will make it better  resulting in a  tendency to still seek a  miracle cure or the right doctor.


  • Secondary psychological problems and financial difficulties can lead to more difficulties being encountered 
  • Trying to accept the injury may be long term.




1.  Seek help from suitably qualified and experienced medical / par medical staff

2.  Make sure the paper work is in place to ensure prompt processing and referrals – e.g. completing correct workers compensation or health insurance forms. 

  • Seek help from suitably qualified and experienced medical / par medical staff
  • Ask for information about your diagnosis, what is being prescribed or recommended, why, side effects and complications, real success rate
  • Do own research – library, internet, seconds opinions  - take control!


  • Get the information about your injury you need
  • Accept the evidence – particularly  your own of living with the injury of
  • whether it is getting or will continue to get better.
  • Accept the need to adjust to your injury  and to improve your quality of life
  • rather than to find the miracle cure.
  • Use professionals to help you in the  process if need be.
  • Utilise the support of friends and  family as much as possible.
  • Don’t expect instant results.
  • Experiment with new hobbies and interests that don’t stir up your injury
  • but that you could learn to enjoy.
  • Participate in fitness programs whether  organised or self initiated.

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