Broken Wrist Update - 12 months later by Ern Reeders


As you probably know, an out-of-control hooning mother-raping motorcyclist slammed into me Xmas 2009 and trashed my wrist. Ben thought an account of the rehab process and TAC dealings might be of interest. While the TAC should be canned for its lies about motorcycle accidents, as a client I found them very good to deal with.

By way of general advice re dealing with them and with the health care system, inform yourself about opportunities for care and treatment and assertively exploit them. TAC covers not only doctors' bills but also some loss of income, physiotherapy, gardening, child care, transport and house cleaning where you're unable to do them yourself.These require your GP to assess your condition. You get a few physio treatments and then a treatment plan has to be approved by the TAC.

On admission to hospital for surgery after the crash I was given a TAC card, called them and was assigned a claim number (subject to verification) which could then be quoted to any professional I dealt with. Two days and two surgeries in a country public hospital got me started on the conveyor belt.That took me through a number of reviews at Northern Hospital in Melbourne.Each was done by a different doctor.Only one took the time to explain clearly what the state of the wrist was.All was going well til the 6 week mark when the splint could come off.The quack said the bones had not set well and I'd lost about 20 degrees of forward flexion.He suggested that the radius bone should be broken again in theatre and a wedge of bone taken from the hip and inserted to tip the wrist forward. I went out in a daze.

No way I was thinking; if I didn't it would mean I couldn't roll off the throttle fully and that'd have to improve my foresight on the road.Couldn't be a bad thing, could it?

In the meantime I'd been seeing a physio who specialised in hand therapy.She had replaced the uncomfortable fibreglass splint with a sick silver perforated thermoplastic job with red velcro straps.The kind of thing that stopped conversations before they started. I took the issue to her and she gave me the name of one of the top hand orthopaedic surgeons so I could get a second opinion.My supportive GP wrote the recommendation and referral.The surgeon took the time to explain everything clearly, suggested that continued hand therapy might solve the flexion problem and so to watch and wait.

And it has.There's better than basic flexibility and I can squeeze 62kg with the hand, down from 70+kg before the break (that's another story).A silver lining is that I'd been getting treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome in the other hand but all symptoms vanished with the new role it was playing.But there's continuing pain in the wrist and hand.Ho hum.

Rehab has been a long, slow and depressing process.I got down cos it was the dominant hand and lots of stuff had to be relearned using the other hand.Much of my time is spent doing woodturning, riding and cross-country skiing and all this was severely limited and threatened in the long term.

My partner was on the receiving end of a lot of dumping.Cindy and I had a number of long lunches where we swapped tales of woe, hers about her broken arm.Perhaps most importantly, the regular sessions with the physio gave hope of improvement and measures of progress.And I was able to get good care without worrying about the cost. And that's the plus in a scheme like the TAC's.In other jurisdictions such as NSW you have to prove that someone else was at fault before their compo scheme applies.

The TAC's communications were prompt.About every time I rang them there was a new case officer but they scanned the file while I held and came back with a reply.

The downside here, as I understand it, is that if you want compensation for permanent disability you have to sue the TAC and their criteria are strict.

TAC details: call them if you can while in hospital on 1300 654 329

They will assign you a claim number subject to paper work that you can quote to hospital professionals and later to other health professionals and support services.

You have 12 months after the accident to lodge a claim.


In terms of the other story, I had an off in 2006 and wrenched the right hand thumb.Really painful.Saw the GP, had an X-ray, nothing broken, matter dropped.But no, outside of the claim period Arthur Itis took up residence and all the costs are down to me.So don't grit your teeth after an off expecting any problems to go away forever.Get your claim in.

In terms of asserting yourself in the health care system, it can be hard when you're dazed or drugged but there are some key questions to get answers to so see if you can draft in a friend or partner if needed, and if they are not available call me on 0408 530106 and I'll get on the blower on your behalf:

* What exactly in layman's terms is wrong?

* What are the treatment options and their pros and cons?

* After surgery, what should and shouldn't I be doing with the affected limb etc?

* What other health care practitioners can contribute to treatment and rehab?

If you're not confident with the treatment you're getting, ask around; change your GP or surgeon if necessary.


So that's my story. Your mileage may vary.

Gotta laugh though about the TAC propaganda on riders; while hanging off the phone to VicRoads recently the recorded message said something like 'Drivers, did you know that most crashes with motorcyclists are caused by other road users not seeing them?�

Best wishes to Kurn, Danny, Paul, Cindy and all others with their rehab.


Ern Reeders