Canada: Long-Term Disability Series: Physical Injury And Its Effects On Mental Health

Last Updated: March 27 2017
Article by Renée Vinett

Life altering accidents can happen in an instant, but their effects can last months, years or a lifetime. Emergency medical treatment is focused on diagnosis and treatment of acute physical injuries, such as surgical intervention and pain management. The emergent physical needs, out of necessity, take precedent over psychological needs. However, as the accident victim makes her way through the recovery process, she may struggle psychologically to accept and adjust to the permanent impact her physical limitations will have on her life. It is, therefore, important that treatment providers and caregivers be attuned to the psychological response of an accident victim.

In this blog post, I explore common psychological responses to physical injury; offer some strategies to mitigate the emotional pain that may follow; and, explain the importance of long-term disability benefits to help accident victims work through these issues.

Psychological Response and The Stages of Grief

An individual's response to a physical injury depends very much on their personality, lifestyle, quality of life, the situation surrounding the injury and any pre-existing psychological conditions. For example, if you are an active person who exercises regularly and derives a great deal of satisfaction from physical activity, then a physical injury which limits your ability to engage in physical activity will likely cause you greater distress than someone who lives a more sedentary lifestyle.

However, when confronting the psychological aftermath of an injury, it is common for people to go through the stages of grief.

  • Denial – There may be initial shock and disbelief in the severity of an injury;
  • Anger – Whether directed externally at someone believed to have caused the injury, or internally if a person feels at fault, the intensity of anger can vary – especially if a person's identity or self-concept (for example, an athlete) is bound up in a physical ability that might be temporarily or permanently diminished;
  • Bargaining – A person may vow to change their behavior in exchange for a faster or complete recovery;
  • Depression – Once the consequences of an injury are cognitively processed, a person may feel a profound loss, anxiety over future uncertainty, or obsession over how soon regular activities can be resumed;
  • Acceptance – When the reality of a situation is accepted, a person may fully move forward with rehabilitation or identify ways to cope or re-organize their lives to accommodate their new level of ability.

The time required to progress through these stages, particularly if there are setbacks in recovery, varies. But there are some strategies to help mitigate some of the emotional effects of a physical injury as you make your way through the stages of grief.

Some Strategies to Mitigate Emotional Pain

  • Let your mind work for you, not against you – Researchers have found that maintaining a positive attitude and using skills such as creative visualization are related to shorter physical rehabilitation times for injuries. Positive imagery has been shown to improve mood and coping abilities, increase sense of internal control, and decrease experiential feelings of physical pain. Goal-setting and self-talk will also aid in your recovery.
  • Concentrate on what you can do – Medical studies show that physical pain is easier to forget than emotional pain. But when physical injury manifests itself as an emotional issue, it unfortunately becomes ingrained in our psychology. For some people, physical injury might symbolize an inability to look after themselves. This, in turn, results in a perception of weakness. Your physical injury may have limited, temporarily or permanently, some of your abilities – but not all of them! Although it may take some adjustment, proactively re-organizing your life to focus on your abilities and not your disabilities (or pain from injury) will help you to keep the positive attitude that is so essential.
  • Be accountable, but do not blame yourself – Taking responsibility for your rehabilitation aids in your recovery and reduces distress. But placing blame on yourself, repeatedly reliving the injury and wondering if you could have done something differently to prevent it, or otherwise dwelling on the past will not help you move forward.
  • Utilize the support of those closest to you – True strength derives from our ability to acknowledge that there are times when we need assistance. Seeking emotional support from family and/or friends will allow you to work through what you may be feeling.

You cannot choose to be uninjured once it has occurred; but you can choose how you will respond to the injury. By acknowledging the toll of a physical injury on your mental health you can take steps to mitigate the emotional pain you may be experiencing.

It's essential to remember that proper recovery can take time and should never be rushed. You may require more time to focus on your health than a short-term sick leave can provide and claiming long-term disability benefits could be an appropriate option, especially to deal with the psychological effects that a physical injury may leave behind.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.