Physical Therapy for Auto Accident Injuries
After a car accident injury you may require physical therapy to properly heal. You may experience headaches, pain to the shoulders, neck, back, and joints. Car wrecks can cause a variety of injuries, from broken bones to soft tissue injuries. Physical therapy is used to both restore function to the affected area and reduce pain. Of course, physical therapy is very limited in broken bones cases until after they have healed.
Range of motion
When you wear a cast for 6 weeks, you may have a hard time moving or regaining your range of motion. Physical therapy will be very beneficial after your broken bone has healed. In some cases, painkillers and muscle relaxers can be given as a temporary relief of pain. Medications may help you function during the day, however these would be a short term solution, they won’t fix anything.
Some patients may feel few, if any symptoms immediately following a car accident. Only after days or weeks do they develop noticeable symptoms from the auto accident. It’s important to receive proper medical attention after you have been involved in an auto accident, a delay or gap in medical care is not advisable to anyone who wishes to pursue a personal injury claim.
How physical therapy can help you recover from whiplash
Whiplash is the whipping motion of the neck generally caused by getting hit in a rear end car wreck. This whipping motion causes the muscles, and tendons in your neck to stretch past their normal range of motion. This type of injury can cause neck pain, stiffness, weakness, headaches, reduced range of motion and other issues. Physical therapy for whiplash has changed over the years. Generally speaking doctors no longer recommended foam collars. Foam collars limit movement and could prolong pain.
Seeking Medical Attention Quickly
Seeking medical attention quickly after suffering a whiplash injury could help with a faster recovery time. It is also possible that you may have other issues that cannot be discovered by X-RAYS or MRI. Your physical therapist may order an MRI to determine if your spine or disk may have been affected in the auto accident.
Taking anti inflammatory medications may help relieve the pain and reduce swelling in your neck, unless otherwise instructed by your physical therapist not to do so.
Physical activity has shown to increase circulation, prevent loss of muscle function and improve range of motion in whiplash patients. Consult with a physical therapist to ensure that you are doing the right activities. However, in most cases if you can deal with pain then, it will not hurt, but rather help your recovery process. It may help to use a resistance band to keep you from holding your head in an unnatural position to relieve the pain.
Ask for a physical therapy prescription from your PC. With a prescription physical therapy is generally covered by most health providers. Many insurance providers will set a limit on how many physical therapy visits will be covered. For example, in some states you are covered by Pip or personal injury protection. In most cases, PIP coverage will get used before health coverage.
In some cases after an auto accident it may be difficult to find a physical therapist to treat your injuries if you do not have pip or med pay. You can locate a physical therapist on our website who can help diagnose and treat your auto accident injuries.
When you go to the ER, now days, you are lucky if they even do an X RAY. X RAYS will show if you have broken bones and other obvious injuries. They may prescribe some painkillers and muscle relaxers, but that’s about it. You are generally sent home and told to follow up with an Auto Injury Doctor within one to two weeks. Car wreck injuries may feel better with self medication. However, the medication is not making them get better, and in fact possibly leaving you more open to further injury. Time and rest may be of more help than the medication. Physical therapy can cut that time down and restore function to the affected area.
Physical therapy after a car wreck can be provided by several different types of doctors. These can be Chiropractic Care, DO, physical therapist. Chiropractic care is by far the most common type of treatment after a car wreck. One reason for this is they are trained to treat the body, nerves, muscles, etc. They do all of these types of treatments without the use of any prescription medications.
Chiropractic care is common as well because they are more than willing to work with personal injury attorneys on a medical lien. Just like medical providers, not all chiropractors want to treat car wreck injuries. They will want to be paid up front.
Types of physical therapy exercises
Most physical therapist use a wide array of techniques and exercises. These are designed to increase range of motion, and decrease pain. Your physical therapist will do a thorough evaluation and determine your pain level, physical condition, limits and capabilities.
- Rubber Bands or resistance bands will allow you to gain more strength in your neck, back, shoulders, etc.
- Stretching-Physical therapy may include a variety of stretching exercises to improve range of motion
- Cervical unit-This machine allows the physical therapist to put weights into the exercise. The patient can move their neck back and forth against the resistance of weight, this will strengthen the muscles and increase the range of motion. The physical therapist will decide how much weight and how long based on performance and pain. This machine can strengthen 11 different muscles in the neck.
- Ice-The physical therapist may use ice in the form of an ice pack or ice massage in intervals usually no longer than 15 minutes.
- Heat Stimulation-Physical therapist can also use and ultrasound machine to produce heat and stimulate your neck relieving neck pain.
- Manual Manipulation- Physical therapy could include chiropractor or massage visits.
The process of physical therapy
Recover from your initial car wreck injury and get you out of everyday pain. Physical therapy will help improve and strengthen muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Addressing your car wreck injuries earlier, rather than later to seek physical therapy. Some people wait, they wait until they can’t stand the pain or discomfort any longer. Your injuries could have gotten much worse over time with no proper medical treatment. It’s better to seek treatment as soon as possible. Furthermore, this will reduce the chances of further injury and begin treating the damaged areas.
Getting the range of motion back to the affected areas and helping you remain active are two of the main goals of physical therapy from car wreck injuries.
Physical therapy is a first step in treating car wreck injuries, surgery is the last step. All other treatment options should be exhausted before surgery. Surgeries can cost a lot of money and may or may not fix the issue. In some cases the issues get worse after surgery.
Long term effects
Long term effects of injuries not treated can lead to everyday pain. This pain may be in your neck, back, shoulders, and more. If you leave these injuries untreated they could, and most likely will, get worse.
How is physical therapy covered in the event of an auto accident?
Because physical therapy can last for quite some time, insurance companies can be very skeptical or treatment. Physical therapy visits must be documented by a doctor who treats auto injury patients. Documentation becomes very crucial when doing physical therapy after an auto accident.
Soft tissue injuries don’t show up on X-RAYS like a broken bone. It becomes crucial for you, the patient, to make sure you keep all of your appointments and that your soft tissue injuries are being documented for your personal injury lawyer. Insurance companies are not going to pay out bodily injury claims for injuries they feel are preexisting or not caused from the auto accident.
Physical therapy can be covered under PIP, if you live in a pip state. Med pay can cover your car accident physical therapy visits. Health insurance may or may not cover a physical therapist after a car wreck. In the event you have none of the above you can still seek physical therapy under the protection of a medical or attorneys lien.
Ultimately the defendant is responsible for paying for your physical therapy. However, if you miss appointments, or have a large gap in medical care, the insurance company may fight the charges. They may feel that your injuries have nothing to do with your auto accident. Make sure to make it to all of your physical therapy appointments.
Physical therapy is a process
Physical therapy is a process, it’s not one visit and you are done. It may take weeks or months for physical therapy to help your body recover from your car wreck injuries. It takes a small level of discipline to make the appointments necessary for you to heal. These may be 1-3 times a week depending on the severity of your car wreck injury.
Some car wreck victims will make it to a few appointments and then fall off. This is not good for several reasons. The main reason is your injury could start to get much worse. If you have a personal injury attorney, he may have a hard time proving soft tissue injury if you do not make your appointments. Furthermore, long lasting or permanent injuries could become reality if not treated soon, missing appointments with your physical therapist is not a good way to start out.
Car wreck injuries if left untreated may get better on their own. However, more than likely you should consider some sort of physical therapy no matter how minor you think your injury is. Minor injuries can turn into major problems ahead. Furthermore, you would be better off seeing a physical therapist right after your car wreck, or as soon as possible.
If you have been injured in an auto accident and need a physical therapist for any reason. Please contact us immediately. If we don’t have a physical therapist listed in your area, we will find you a physical therapist.