Car accidents can be scary for a multitude of reasons. Often the impact of the crash can cause unseen injuries to the people who were involved. Sometimes injuries such as whiplash, back strains, and other injuries might not be felt for several days or weeks following the incident. But that does not make them any less severe or mean that they do not require some type of medical attention to alleviate. One of the best ways to combat the injuries that can be sustained in a car crash is by receiving physical therapy. There are several reasons why it is a good idea to receive physical therapy after a car accident. Physical therapy is a good choice for treatment after an accident because it promotes healing, restores function, improves strength and stability and decreases pain.
1. Initial treatment does not repair.
Typically, initial treatment for minor injuries that were sustained in a car accident is the administration of painkillers and a possible neck brace. Although these methods work to alleviate pain, they are not effective methods of repairing the actual injury. On the other hand, physical therapy is specifically designed to repair and strengthen the damaged tissues and avoid too much accumulation of scar tissue. Even if an injury is minor, physical therapy will help it.
2. Physical therapy helps recovery.
Physical therapy helps to decrease pain and increase the mobility of an injured person. Physical therapists can assist the patient with injury-specific strengthening and stretching exercises. Working with a physical therapist will also assure the patient is performing the exercises properly, which will help speed up the recovery process.
3. Physical activity promotes being pain-free.
Staying physically active and mobile is a key factor in a full recovery from injuries that were sustained in a car accident. Timeliness is also important. Anyone who has been injured in a car accident should seek out physical therapy as soon as possible. Even though it may seem better to lay in bed and rest until the pain subsides, that course of action could do more harm than good. Going to physical therapy and keeping the body active will produce much more positive results. Although it may be difficult at first, the pain will quickly subside and the patient will then start to return to normal.
4. Failure to receive physical therapy could result in long-term damage.
Studies have shown that people who had previously been in car accidents and did not receive physical therapy still experienced residual pain as many as eight years later. Some residual effects have included headaches, dizziness, numbness, vision problems, and concentration problems. Also, people who do not receive physical therapy after a car accident are at a higher risk for degenerative disk disease as they age. The simple act of receiving physical therapy as soon as possible after a car accident can go a long way in preventing these issues from occurring and can ultimately result in a better quality of life for many years down the road.
5. Facing the reality of whiplash.
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries that someone can sustain as the result of a car accident. Whiplash results in damage to the ligaments that protect the nerves and spinal cord. Pain is often felt in the neck and shoulders and some people can experience numbness and pain in the arms and hands. Some patients can also experience headaches. The earlier someone seeks out physical therapy for whiplash, the sooner they will find relief.
6. How physical therapy repairs whiplash.
Although initially treating this injury with cold compresses and anti-inflammatory painkillers will temporarily relieve the pain, more comprehensive help is needed to truly heal the problem. Physical therapy patients receive soft tissue massage, therapeutic ultrasound, electric stimulation, and cold treatments. The soft tissue massage is used to alleviate the spasms and restores mobility to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that were affected. Massage also helps to flush toxins out of the body and return normal circulation and oxygen supply. Once the physical therapy has made the patient feel better, the next step is introducing light stretching exercises and postural correction. Finally the patient is engaged in exercises that are designed to strengthen and stabilize the neck, mid-back, and shoulder muscles. The strength and stabilization exercises that are used are specifically designed to improve alignment and restore normal movement.
7. Alleviate back/spinal pain.
Physical therapy can also help with back and spinal pain that is a result from a car accident. A therapist will start with some passive therapies such as heat or ice packs and ultrasounds. After those therapies, the process moves to more active therapies such as stretching and strengthening exercises. When the patient is ready, the next step is low-impact aerobic training. These exercises help in long-term pain reduction. The physical therapist will continue to work with the patient until the stretching, strengthening, and conditioning can be sustained independently by the patient.
8. Avoid surgery.
Another benefit of receiving physical therapy after a car accident is that it can ultimately result in the patient not requiring surgery to fix their injuries. Surgery should always be seen as a last option and should be avoided whenever possible. Physical therapy will eliminate pain, and heal injuries to the point that surgery is not necessary. If surgery is unavoidable, physical therapy will hasten the recovery period for that, too.
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