After a car accident involving serious injury, victims may need physical therapy for varying lengths of time to improve their recovery. Indeed, physical therapy can help victims increase their mobility, strengthen their body and improve their overall flexibility.
It also restores function, promotes healing, lowers pain and increases stability and strength. In effect, your body relearns how to function smoothly. Physical therapy also is a preferable option to surgery, which should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
Physical therapy can be among the injury costs sought for financial recovery by a victim via a car accident lawsuit or insurance claim. This can be filed by our law firm on your behalf — and at no cost to you unless we win your case.
Types of Physical Therapy Treatments
Many types of physical therapy treatments are available for car wreck victims, depending on the nature of the injury. Injuries requiring physical therapy include injuries to the hip, neck, knee, back and shoulder, as well as sciatica and herniated disc.
Common types of physical therapy treatments available include:
- Massage, for the treatment of all layers of muscle and connective tissue,
- Neurological, for treating a brain injury,
- Orthopedic, for the treatment of spine injuries, neck pain, back pain, sprains and fractures.
Forms of Physical Therapy Treatments
As for forms of physical therapy treatments after a car accident injury, they include:
- Manual therapy, such as massage or manipulating joints and bones,
- Exercise, to strengthen muscles and enhance ability to perform daily functions,
- Ultrasound, to help reduce muscle spasms,
- Education, on how to protect joints, do exercises at home and do daily tasks in a safe way,
- Hydrotherapy, involving water and including exercise in water or using water for resistance so exercises can be done with less stress on the spine and joints,
- Heat therapy, for enhancing muscle relaxation and improving blood circulation,
- Cold/ice therapy, for reducing pain and swelling,
- Electric stimulation, for lowering the sensation of pain in different areas of the body.
How Therapy is Different from Initial Treatment
Initial treatment of an injury after a car wreck often involves such things as providing painkilling drugs to the victim, putting a fractured bone in a cast or splint, providing a neck brace after a neck injury, suturing a deep laceration or cut, and other immediate actions to keep an injury from getting worse.
Although physical therapy should be sought as soon as possible to speed recovery, it is more a matter of follow-up treatment to enhance the body’s recovery from a car accident injury. Such therapy can strengthen and repair damaged tissues and avoid scar tissue.
By working with a physical therapist, crash victims can learn injury-specific ways to strengthen or stretch the body, and the therapist can make sure the patient is keeping up the good work over time, while increasing the level of work.
Physical activities often help a victim to recover faster and more fully as the therapist provides an exercise program and schedule for patients to follow each day. This process then evolves to increased work as the patient improves, with the goal to enhance flexibility, muscle strength and mobility.
Physical therapy treatments are vital, especially since people who decline therapy often stay in pain after a crash often stay in pain for years to come. These residual effects may be a matter of numbness, vision difficulty, trouble concentrating and dizziness.
In addition, degenerative disc disease can impact those who decline physical therapy. However, ice or heat packs or ultrasound treatments can ease spinal or back pain, along with strengthening and stretching exercises, and then low-impact aerobics, when the patient improves.
Massage therapy and neurological therapy also may improve spinal injuries. Besides relaxing the patient, massages can assist in releasing painful excess fluids or toxins from the body.
Therapy for Whiplash
Whiplash is a frequent form of injury in car accidents, especially when a vehicle is hit from the rear. It involves a sudden stretching of the ligaments securing the spinal cord and nerves.
Victims then may feel pain and numbness in their hands or arms, as well as pain in their shoulders or neck.
After initial treatment of anti-inflammatory painkillers and cold compresses to ease the pain, physical therapy can do far more, including cold treatments, electric stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound and soft tissue massages to reduce spasms and improve ligament, tendon and muscle mobility.
Injuries to ligaments, joints and bones, in fact, are the most common target of physical therapy.
Posture correction and light stretching may be next, as well as exercises to stabilize and strengthen the shoulder, mid-back and neck muscles.
Finding a Physical Therapist
Consult your physician about the means of finding a physical therapist. These can be recommended by your physician based on awareness of the extent of your injury.
Keep in mind that a physical therapist (PT) or a physical therapist assistant (PTA) is a healthcare professional who must be licensed by the appropriate regulatory board of your state. Not everyone can be a physical therapist, even if they know how to give a massage or set up an exercise regimen.
In Texas, physical therapists are licensed and regulated by the Board of PT Examiners.
Once you have settled on a therapist, do your best to commit to his or her program and regimen. True recovery from injury pain takes time and often the effort applied to a physical therapy program. Explore the possibilities, and perhaps you too can benefit from getting physical therapy after a car accident.