WHEN TO SEE A PHYSICAL THERAPIST AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
If the doctor clears you of serious injuries (i.e. fracture, ligament instability), you should seek auto accident physical therapy as soon as that afternoon. Delaying treatment will allow the muscles to further tighten and spasm. The sooner you receive physical therapy to offset this muscle guarding, the sooner and more completely your body will heal.
I wish EVERYONE knew the following recommendations that come from the Neck Pain Clinical Practice Guidelines established by the Orthopedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association :
1. Patients who perform exercises early in their recovery do better than those whose dominant rehabilitation strategy involves the use of a cervical collar.
2. Early return to normal, non-provocative, pre-accident activities leads to faster recovery.
3. Recovery from Whiplash has a Good Prognosis with conservative care.
4. A positive attitude is important in your recovery – I’m not kidding. Research says that feeling like you’re not going to get better leads to you actually not getting better following a car accident. Check negative attitudes at the door so it doesn’t get in the way of your recovery!
Top 5 reasons to see a Physical Therapist
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 6 million car accidents occur in the U.S. every year, and of those 6 million, over 2.5 million car accidents are rear-ended collisions. This type of car accident is the most common and can cause an injury called “whiplash,” which occurs when the neck extends beyond its normal range of motion. As a result, patients may develop the following symptoms:
Pain and stiffness in the head, neck, and shoulders
Loss of range of motion in the neck
Chronic migraines or headaches
Tingling and numbness in the upper extremities
Dizziness and fatigue
Occasionally, blurred vision and memory problems
Whiplash injury symptoms may not surface right away, so it’s imperative patients seek immediate medical attention to have their physical health evaluated. Prolonging treatment could result in long-term damage, like chronic pain, reduced mobility, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Fortunately, the team at OSR Physical Therapy is here to ensure you experience complete recovery after an auto accident.
Should I See a Physical Therapist After a Car Accident?
Wondering if you should seek physical therapy treatment after you’ve been in an auto accident? Here are the top 5 reasons patients should seek the care of a physical therapist after their car accident:
1) PT Supports The Recovery Process After a Car Accident
Patients often don’t realize how bad their car accident-related injuries are until after they’ve returned to their normal daily activities. Common injuries typically include pain, stiffness, reduced range of motion, and chronic headaches or migraines. As such, it’s important patients undergo physical therapy to aid the recovery process. Physical therapy can help car accident victims increase their strength, improve their flexibility, and subsequently keep pain symptoms at bay. Our specially-designed therapy regimens can help patients bounce back from their injuries faster and easier than staying in bed can, that’s for sure!
2) PT Can Prevent Long-Term Damage After an Auto Injury
As we alluded to in the previously post, physical therapy not only helps address immediate injuries by improving strength, flexibility, and mobility, but it can also prevent long-term damage like chronic pain and migraines. Unfortunately, car accidents can cause lingering damage if the patient’s injuries are not addressed right away. If you begin physical therapy immediately after your accident, you are much more likely to live a relatively pain-free life for years and years to come. In fact, a Medscape study found patients who did not receive care immediately after their car accident were far more likely to suffer from degenerative disc disease than those who did receive immediate medical attention.
3) Being Physically Active Helps Reduce Pain
While moving around may sound like the last thing you need to do after a car accident, being physically active can actually help reduce pain and help you recover from your injuries much quicker than bed rest. Movement pumps oxygenated blood and other nutrients to the injury site, which helps the body heal itself. At OSR Physical Therapy, our specialists create unique, individualized programs to help patient’s address pain points and poor body mechanics. Every exercise or stretch that’s performed has a specific purpose and a goal to improve mobility and function. As the patient regains more and more function, he or she is that much closer to a balanced and complete recovery.
4) PT May Help Patients Avoid Surgery
While serious car accident injuries will likely need surgery right away, non-life-threatening injuries are not exactly exempt from surgery altogether. In fact, a car accident injury, combined with natural wear and tear, may require the need for surgery later in life. This is especially true for patients who don’t seek some type of treatment to avoid these complications down the road. Physical therapy helps strengthen vulnerable muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which in turn, helps protect various structures throughout the body. Plus, it’s safe to assume that physical therapy is a much more cost-effective solution for treating your pain, and it doesn’t require the downtime that is needed for surgery.
5) PT Can Restore Function in Patients With Old Car Accident Injuries
If you haven’t been in a car accident recently but were in one nonetheless, that doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from physical therapy. In fact, physical therapy can help restore function and mobility in patients with old car accident injuries. Using various strength training exercises and cardiovascular rehabilitation techniques, patients can achieve as close to a pain-free lifestyle as possible through physical therapy. Moreover, patients can rest assured knowing physical therapy is a safe, non-invasive treatment that does not require the use of opioid pain medications for relief.