You probably drive by a car accident at least once a week, but you never think it will happen to you. Until it does! Even what might seem like a mild fender-bender can result in car accident injuries that leave you in pain and discomfort for days or even weeks. If you suffer serious injuries from a car accident, then your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help you with the recovery process. Physical therapy after a car accident offers a wide variety of health benefits and may even be necessary for you to fully heal and recover. Physical therapists will work alongside your car accident doctors to ensure you get the best treatment and care. If you need physical therapy after a car accident, here’s what you can expect with the length of treatment for your injuries.
Why You May Need Physical Therapy After a Car Accident
A general rule of thumb for car accidents is that if your car suffered any type of damage, then your body likely did too. A car accident injury can negatively impact your quality of life as you deal with lingering pain and other symptoms. Here are examples of common car accident injuries and how physical therapy can help.
Whiplash is the most common car accident injury. The sudden force of impact can cause your head and neck to whip forward and backward violently. This movement can overstretch or strain the muscles and ligaments in your neck. If you end up with whiplash, you may notice difficulty turning your head from side to side. A severe whiplash injury can lead to chronic pain, headaches, and even nerve damage that impacts your upper body. Physical therapy for whiplash can help reduce your pain and restore mobility in your neck.
Sprains & Strains
Sprains and strains are also common car accident injuries. From a sprained wrist to straining muscles in your back, damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other tissues can leave you in pain and restrict your movements. Physical therapy for sprains and strains helps restore a healthy range of motion to the area while also improving your overall strength and flexibility. Physical therapy may focus on range-of-motion exercises, stretching, and strength training.
A dislocation refers to an injury where the bones in a joint get knocked out of place. There are two types of dislocations: partial dislocation and full dislocation. Potential dislocations from a car accident include dislocating your shoulders, hips, knees, or jaw. A dislocation can also impact nearby tissues, nerves, and blood vessels, so you will likely require immediate medical attention to put the joint back in place properly. As you heal from a dislocation, physical therapy can help reduce muscle weakness while still keeping the area still so that it can heal properly.
There are many different types of broken bones, also known as fractures. A broken bone or fracture can occur due to a car accident. Commonly broken bones from a car accident include the clavicle, sternum, facial bones, arms, and legs. Reaching forward or bracing for impact during a car accident could put too much pressure on the bone and lead to a fracture. You could also suffer a broken bone if you get jolted forward into the seat restraint or struck by the airbag or other loose items in the car. While healing from a broken bone, a physical therapist can work with you to help avoid muscle loss and weakness.
A concussion is another unfortunate but common type of car accident where physical therapy can benefit. If you hit your head on something during a car accident or your head and neck get jostled violently, it can lead to a concussion. This type of traumatic brain injury can impact your physical and cognitive functioning, so you may experience dizziness, disorientation, balance issues, or even loss of consciousness. Physical therapy can help you regain your balance, strength, and mobility after a concussion.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy offers a myriad of benefits for car accident victims. If you suffered a car accident injury, here are a few ways physical therapy could help you recover safely and effectively.
Reduce Pain & Symptoms
Pain is a common symptom of many car accident injuries. Whether you experience a consistent throbbing ache or notice an increase in pain with certain movements, pain from a car accident injury can really affect your quality of life. Physical therapists can provide you with hands-on treatments and techniques to reduce your pain and other symptoms after a car accident. Stretching, therapeutic massage, and other techniques with a physical therapist can reduce your pain and help better manage your symptoms.
Improve Strength & Mobility
Physical therapy offers you the chance to take an active role in your recovery from a car accident injury. Even if your injury has impacted or reduced your mobility, a physical therapist can still provide you with treatment options to help you recover. Physical therapy incorporates a variety of stretches, exercises, and other techniques to prevent weakness, increase strength, and improve your overall mobility. Your physical therapist can recommend specific techniques to target and improve your range of motion.
Improve Mental Health
Physical therapy also provides you with mental health benefits after a car accident. Dealing with car accident injuries on top of car repairs and insurance woes can be an incredibly stressful experience. Physical therapy can offer you an outlet for your stress and a place where you can relieve built-up tension in your body. Getting active under the guidance of a physical therapist can help boost your mood so you can feel better emotionally as well as physically.
Faster Healing & Recovery
Physical therapy can help you recover faster by strengthening your muscles and improving your range of motion. Your car accident doctor understands you want to return to your regular routines as soon as possible, and physical therapy offers a safe and effective way to speed up your recovery. When you work with a physical therapist after a car accident, you can regain lost strength and see better outcomes from your treatment and care.
Timeline for Physical Therapy
When it comes to a physical therapy timeline, each person will have a slightly different experience. That’s because physical therapists tailor-make your treatment plan to your specific injuries, needs, and limitations. Physical therapy should never be a one-size-fits-all program, and instead, you want to work with a physical therapist who will create a plan around your physical and mental well-being and healing.
The initial assessment with a physical therapist will involve a review of your car accident injuries along with the rest of your medical history. This helps give your physical therapist a holistic perspective on your health and how the injury has impacted you. Your physical therapist may also have you move through certain movements to assess how the injury has impacted your strength, mobility, flexibility, and coordination. The initial assessment will provide your physical therapist with a baseline and more information so they can best assist you.
You will develop treatment goals with your physical therapist that will help you measure your success. Treatment goals for physical therapy may focus on managing your pain and other symptoms from the car accident injury and improving your strength and mobility. Other treatment goals can include education on proper posture and techniques to better support your spine and healthy movements. Rehabilitation through physical therapy will also involve addressing the prevention of future injuries through comprehensive treatment and care.
Physical therapy sessions can look different for each person depending on the type and severity of your car accident injuries. Your physical therapist may walk you through specific stretches or exercises that can help you gain strength and improve your mobility. Your physical therapist will help assess your current level of function and how to improve your healthy functioning gently and safely through various treatments and techniques. During physical therapy sessions, your physical therapist may also provide hands-on soft tissue massage and joint mobilization. This can help improve blood flow and relieve your pain.
Your physical therapist will also walk you through stretches and exercises you can do at home and in between sessions to keep your momentum going. This may involve practicing certain techniques or exercises with your physical therapist to ensure you have the correct posture and form before trying them at home on your own. Physical therapy will include a timeline for certain activities that you are safe to return to and certain activities to avoid during your healing and recovery process.
Recovering from a Car Accident Injury
When it comes to recovering from a car accident injury, physical therapists at AICA Orthopedics are here to help. With several locations across metro Atlanta, you can meet with your car accident doctor and see a physical therapist all in one convenient location. Get started with a physical therapist at AICA Orthopedics today and learn more about a timeline and treatment plan for your specific car accident injuries.