Coming back to the classroom after a car accident


You’ve spent enough time recuperating from your accident, and you’re ready to get back to work. Or are you?

Most people know the basics of what to do after a car accident: call the cops, take down the other person’s insurance information, call your insurance company, etc. When it comes to their own health and well-being, though, they may be far less prepared to handle the aftereffects of an accident.

In this article, we’re going to explain how a car accident can affect your teaching abilities. We’ll also discuss what to do when you’re truly ready to return to work, especially if some special accommodations need to be made.

You have an extremely important job as a teacher. Your students deserve a teacher who feels healthy, has a positive outlook, and enjoys their time in the classroom — you deserve that, too.

How a car accident can impact your teaching abilities

Let’s say you were in a car crash but don’t feel like you’re hurt or injured in any way. The truth is that many injuries can take several hours or even days to become apparent. Some conditions, such as traumatic cataracts, can even take years to develop after sustaining an injury. Certain injuries aren’t exactly painful; there may be other signs to pay attention to aside from bruising or pain. Traumatic brain injuries are often caused by car accidents, but people don’t always know if they’ve had a brain injury at all. Signs of a brain injury include:

  • Balance and coordination Issues: A brain injury can make normal motor functions difficult. You may notice that you’re losing your balance easily or having a hard time walking.
  • Cognitive trouble: Does it seem like you can’t process information as quickly as before? If your head feels stuffy or like everything is taking longer to work out, it could be the result of a brain injury.
  • Speech problems: After a brain injury, it’s possible that your brain knows what you want to say but your mouth inexplicably says something different.
  • Visual disturbance: Brain trauma can cause blurred vision or dizziness.

Following a car accident, even one that didn’t seem to result in any health issues, it’s imperative that you visit a medical professional.

If you do find out that you had a brain trauma, it’s important to give your brain enough time to repair before you return to your teaching job. It can be uncomfortable, exhausting, and dangerous to return to work if you have any of the symptoms listed above. You’ll also struggle with teaching students effectively, particularly if you’re struggling with cognition or speech problems. Teaching is a high-pressure job, and you need to feel healthy in order to handle it.

Choosing the right time to return to work

Before you choose a return date, you have to consider if this is truly the best time to return to work. You don’t want to rush back to work before you’re ready. Hopefully, you’ve kept in touch with your principal or head of the department during your time away, which means you’re tuned in to what’s going on at work. If things have changed, it’s important to know what to prepare for. Aside from that, though, you have to consider your own health and well-being.

Let’s assume you feel totally back to normal despite dealing with some brain injury symptoms. Your balance and speech are restored, you’re processing information quickly, and you’ve felt mentally healthy for several days now.

What about the physical pain, though? If you go back to work when you’re still sore, injured, or in pain, you could do more damage than good. It can take six weeks for all the physical pain to be gone — even longer if the accident was severe. Unless you’ve been making swift, noticeable progress, the best way to determine when you’ll feel completely better is to speak with your doctor. They’ll be able to give you an estimate of how long the recovery will be.

Upon returning to work

Once you decide that it’s time to return to work and you’re confident that you feel mentally and physically well enough to teach again, set up a meeting with your supervisor. This doesn’t have to be a formal meeting. Instead, it should be a way for you to get caught up on anything you missed. It’s also your chance to be open and honest about how you’re feeling. Tell your supervisor what you can handle and what you may need assistance with. Set their expectations so they know of any health issues you’re still dealing with. For example, it may take your mobility a long time to return to normal, even if your energy is up and your cognition is sharp.

The future of road safety

Car accidents, particularly those that result in brain injury, can have serious, lasting effects on a person’s career, health and life. Since self-driving cars are making their way onto the market, it begs the question, “Will driverless vehicles make roads safer and reduce accidents?” It’s possible that the answer is “yes,” especially since driverless vehicles have advanced security features. Safety technologies like lane departure warning, self-parking and automatic braking can provide extra security even when the driver isn’t paying attention. This can potentially reduce the number of auto accidents each year and make the roads safer overall.


Frankie Wallace is a freelance journalist from Boise, Idaho and contributes to a variety of blogs across the web.

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