Auto accidents can cause a wide range of injuries with even wider ranges of severity. Common injuries that can be caused by an auto accident include:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Head injuries
- Chest injuries
- Limb injuries
- Internal injuries
- Spinal injuries
Depending on the severity as well as the method of treatment prescribed by your treating physician, physical therapy may be a major part of your road to recovery.
Soft Tissue Injuries: Your entire body contains connective tissue which encompasses your ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Those ligaments, tendons, and muscles can become stretched, or even torn, when sudden bursts of force, as seen in an auto accident, occur.
Head Injuries: The sudden impact of a collision can wreak havoc on your head. From neck muscle strains to concussions, the area above your shoulders is at risk in any serious auto accident. If your head makes an impact with an object, like a steering wheel, it is possible that your brain could be injured and a concussion can result.
Chest Injuries: Bruises and contusions of the chest are somewhat common in auto accidents. Depending on the severity of the impact, it is possible that your ribs or other internal injuries may occur as a result of the hit to your chest.
Limb Injuries: Bone breaks of the arms and legs are fairly common in auto accidents. The bones that make up your legs include the femur, tibia, and fibula. A great deal of force is required to fracture the femur but the level of force required does occur in serious auto accidents. The tibia is the major weight-bearing bone in your lower leg and is susceptible to fractures. The bone that runs alongside your tibia below your knee is the fibula and is also subject to fracture in an accident. The bones that make up your arms include the ulna, radius, and humerus. A broken arm refers to a fracture in one or more of those three bones.
Spinal Cord Injuries: The spinal cord is made up of a bundle of nerves that run down the center of your back. The cord serves to carry signals back and forth between your body and your brain. Spinal cord injuries are categorized as being complete or incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury means that the signals cannot be sent from the brain to the body and as a result, paralysis sets in. An incomplete spinal cord injury means some movement and sensation exists and rehabilitation is possible. Spinal cord injuries can be incredibly serious in auto accidents. Damage to the spinal cord can result in permanent changes in strength, sensation and other body functions below the site of the injury.
Physical Therapy Process
Physical therapy refers to treatment that serves to both increases your mobility while also relieving pain. There are different specialties within the physical therapy field. Some physical therapists are board-certified in areas such as neurology and orthopedics. Neurological physical therapists treat conditions affecting the brain and central nervous system. Neurological physical therapy is one of the more complex types of physical therapy, but when performed correctly, they can help you regain function that was inhibited due to an auto accident. Orthopedic physical therapy is one of the more common types of therapy after a car accident. The focus of orthopedic physical therapy is to treat conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. This helps you recover from injuries like whiplash, rotator cuff tears, knee damage and hand injuries. They also work to ensure patients have proper body order, from walking gait to back posture.
Other areas of specialty include:
- Back and neck pain
- Cardiac rehabilitation
- Wound care
If your auto injury did not require surgery, it is recommended to begin physical therapy within one week following an auto accident. If your injury did require surgery, you should speak with your physician to determine the proper time to begin your physical therapy treatment.
Upon meeting with your physical therapist, they will conduct a thorough examination, after which a treatment plan will be created. The primary goal of the plan will be to repair and strengthen your damaged tissue and for avoiding excessive scar growth.
Depending upon the physical therapist, a wide array of techniques and exercises may be used to restore your mobility to an optimal level. Some of the exercises may include:
- Resistance band training which allows you to gain strength in your neck, back, and shoulders
- Cervical unit- A machine that allows weights to be added to the exercise. You can move your neck back and forth against the resistance of weight which serves to strengthen the muscles and increase the range of motion. Overall, the machine can strengthen 11 different muscles in the neck.
- Ice- Your physical therapist may use ice for intervals of 15 minutes during your session.
- Heat Stimulation- Your physical therapist may use an ultrasound machine to produce heat and stimulate your neck relieving neck pain.in order to stimulate your muscles.
- Manual Manipulation- Your sessions may include massage in order to remove any lactic acid buildup.
The amount of physical therapy sessions needed to improve your health after an auto accident varies depending upon the severity of your injury as well as how quickly you heal. As a result, insurance companies are often skeptical of the treatment. It is important to retain all documentation associated with your sessions to make certain that your insurer will cover the cost of treatment.
Compensation for Physical Therapy Following an Auto Accident
If you have suffered an injury that requires physical therapy as the result of an auto accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical treatment. By pursuing a personal injury claim, you can seek damages not only for direct medical expenses (things such as hospitalization, doctor visits, and physical therapy/ongoing treatment costs) but also lost wages for periods of time you were unable to work due to your injuries and/or subsequent treatment.
At the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal, we understand how frustrating and painful auto accidents can be and appreciate the significant physical and financial difficulties that can result. To begin the process of obtaining compensation for your injuries and physical therapy treatment, contact us at 303.825.2223.