Motor Vehicle Accidents

Each year 4 million persons in the US are injured in motor vehicle accidents.
More than 2 million sustain permanent disability.

Physical Therapy for Motor Vehicle Accidents

At Jackson County Physical Therapy, our goal is to maximize your recovery and minimize any residual problems you may experience following your motor vehicle accident. Physical therapy intervention has been shown to help significantly in recovery after a motor vehicle accident.

At JCPT we work with you to achieve this by:

  • Teaching you about the stages of healing from your motor vehicle accident.
  • Guiding you through each stage, providing appropriate clinical and home intervention
  • Assisting you in achieving maximum recovery from your motor vehicle accident and full return to an active lifestyle.

Contact us for a Consultation

How Can Physical Therapy Help Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries?

While we cannot treat every form of injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident, at Jackson County Physical Therapy our physical therapists are rehabilitation specialists extensively trained in evaluation and treatment of injuries to your neck, back and limbs.

Working in a team approach with your doctor, your physical therapist:

  • Evaluates the joints, muscles, and nervous system and works to determine the best individualized treatment program for your injury.
  • Guides you through the four critical stages of healing as outlined below
  • Monitors the postural alignment of your neck and back and works to re-establish correct alignment during the healing process. Poor posture, (which applies unwanted stress to the joints and muscles of the neck and back and often occurs after an accident) can be a cause of ongoing pain.
  • Initiates pain reducing steps including ice, heat, ultrasound and electrical stimulation to help increase your comfort
  • Utilizes mobilization techniques to help restore normal joint movement to neck, back and limbs.
  • Incorporates soft tissue work and massage to help regain full length and elasticity of your muscles and soft tissue.
  • Instructs and trains you in a program of stretching, strengthening and coordination exercises designed to restore your normal movement.

What are common problems that occur as a result of a Motor Vehicle Accident?

Motor vehicle accidents may result in strain to muscles, ligaments, nerves and joints in the spine. Swelling, pain and spasms can limit movements, sometimes severely. It is not uncommon to experience some or all of the following:

Numbness/tingling, constant/or intermittent pain, weakness, headache, dizziness, ear ringing, nausea, fatigue, or poor balance.

These symptoms may come on immediately, appear after several days, or they may come and go over time.

Call your doctor immediately if you experience:

  • Decrease in bowel or bladder control
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Persistent tingling in extremities
  • Persistent dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea

The Stages Of Healing From A Motor Vehicle Accident

First Stage: Day 1 to Day 10
Immediate following your accident, your body works to clean up the injury site and starts to lay down healing tissue (substrate) called fibrin. During this state we recommend that you:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Use an ice pack on swollen area(s).
  • Avoid painful body positions.
  • Provide your body with good nutrition.

Second Stage: Day 10 to Week 4
For the next 3 to 4 weeks your body begins putting down the majority of healing tissue (called collagen) that it will produce. During this state your therapist’s goal are to:

  • Assist your body in the production of more collagen. This may include ultrasound and infrared treatments.
  • Provide you with appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises.
  • Help with pain control. This may include electrical stimulation, heat, and ice.

Third Stage: Week 4 to Week 10
By week five, new tissue production is mostly done. The new tissue you have made starts to shrink and connect together to strengthen the injury site. At this stage your therapist will:

  • Guide you through an exercise program designed to strengthen the new tissue.
  • Use techniques to achieve maximum flexibility of the injured area.
  • Continue pain-relieving steps as needed.
  • Utilize joint mobilization/movement to promote healing in correct postural alignment.

Fourth Stage: Week 10 to 1 year
During this stage, tissue healing continues by collagen shrinkage and interconnection. Your physical therapist will provide you with a home program of continued stretching to maintain flexibility and ongoing strengthening of the injured area.

Research References

  1. Active intervention in patients with whiplash associated disorders improves long term prognosis. Spine volume 28, Number 22, pp 2491-2498
  2. Comparison on the effects of laser and ultrasound treatments on experimental wound healing in rats. Husseyln Demir, MD; Solmaz Yaray, MD; Mehmet Kimap, MD; Kadir Yaray, Phd. JRRD, V41 Number 5, September/October 2004 pp 521-728