Did you know, in 2019, over 6.5 million car accidents occurred in the US? Of those accidents, over 2.7 million people experienced injuries. Unfortunately, because of poor health coverage or overconfidence in the body’s ability to recover, not all accident victims receive the physical therapy they need.
However, while some people have legitimate reasons for avoiding therapy, nearly all accident victims could benefit from at least a few appointments. Avoiding physical therapy or assuming your body will heal without assistance is often a mistake and one that can result in injuries worsening over time.
Importance of Physical Therapy After an Auto Accident
It is crucial not to undervalue the importance of physical therapy services after a car accident. While you might feel OK after the initial trauma, adrenaline and shock can play a role in these feelings. Many injuries, including soft tissue injuries, will not become symptomatic for several days.
As defined by the American Physical Therapy Association, a physical therapist is a medical professional with the ability to diagnose physical abnormalities stemming from injury and restore, maintain, or promote physical mobility and function. Physical therapy also encompasses sports medicine and other disciplines.
As with any medical profession, the sooner a physical therapist can begin working with a patient and their injury, the better. Sometimes, waiting can hinder progress or prolong the overall progress.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
Some people have an aversion to physical therapy, because they have never been to a therapist before. The new experience can feel uncomfortable, leading to hesitation. Still, regardless of potential uneasiness, it is often necessary to seek treatment at a physical therapy clinic.
For those who are uncomfortable and that discomfort leads to delays in treatment, consider reaching out to a physical therapist or rehabilitation center to discuss your feelings. The professionals and staff at these locations can help you navigate your feelings by explaining the process and what you can expect on your visit.
Beyond talking to someone, consider the benefits of seeking treatment. There are many advantages to physical therapy, and all patients should be aware.
When you commit to attending therapy sessions at a physical therapist clinic, you commit to a speedier recovery. Licensed physical therapists understand the exercises, stretches, equipment, and techniques necessary to target specific areas of the body. Their targeted approach means the quickest path to rehabilitation.
The therapist will target specific muscles and movements during your sessions. They will also supply you with a list of exercises to perform at home. The sessions and home routines can help strengthen and repair weakened and damaged muscles, providing support to injured areas and allowing the body to heal.
Injuries result in inflammation and irritation around the damaged area. Neck pain, often from whiplash, is common in car accidents. The swelling and slowed red blood cell flow often lead to significant pain and discomfort. The body’s defense defaults to sending fluid, chemicals, and white blood cells to the region, essentially compressing the nerves in the area, resulting in pain.
The physical therapist wants to help restore the natural flow to the injured area. They do this by using stretches and movements that force oxygen and other nutrients to the surrounding muscles, calming the body’s natural inflammatory response. However, therapists help patients perform these movements gradually and progressively. Any action that requires strenuous or sudden shifts can worsen the injury.
When people go to physical therapy after a car accident, they generally experience less pain, which leads to a more positive outlook and less dependence on prescription pain relievers. The objective when attending physical therapy is to aid in the natural recovery process.
Injury recovery is a progressive task, meaning the longer you commit to the process, the more progress you potentially make. While everyone’s injuries are unique, with a commitment to recovery, patients tend to experience improved wellbeing because they can see and feel a difference throughout therapy.
However, PT is not a miraculous process. It takes dedication and hard work.
Reduced Long-Term Risks
Physical therapy in Newark, NJ, is not specifically about short-term recovery; it is also about mitigating future risks with personalized care. When a patient avoids treatment after a car accident, it does not take long for injuries to compound and splinter off, creating other symptomatic problems. For instance, pinched nerves in the neck can lead to chronic migraines, irritability, sleeplessness, and fatigue.
By seeking treatment immediately after an accident, patients can begin addressing their injuries before they become more problematic. A therapist can work to help strengthen muscles and realign ligaments and tendons. With a commitment to the process and early adoption of exercises, you reduce long-term risks.
Possible Avoidance of Surgery
Working with a physical therapy clinic can reduce the risks of surgery. Prolonged inflammation does more than lead to pain and possible immobility; it can also cause further injury. The swelling and consistent or growing pressure in joint cavities can result in tears and other injuries.
With special techniques and equipment, physical therapists can help reduce inflammation. Therefore, with the help of a licensed and practiced therapist, you can experience less swelling, pain relief, improved mobility, and a greater likelihood of natural healing without the need for surgical intervention.
Types of Physical Therapy Treatments
A physical therapist understands the biomechanics of the human body and can identify deficiencies or inadequacies in performance. Their knowledge and experience help them formulate a physical therapy program to target specific weaknesses and restore strength while relieving stress and pain.
The techniques and tools a therapist uses will depend on the type of injury and any medical or surgical interventions experienced. Know that you are in good hands with a practiced therapist. They understand physical limitations and know what treatment programs or tools to use to get you back to your best self.
While massage therapy might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about physical therapy after a car accident, it is often a necessary tool of the trade. Stiffness is a problem for recovery. Your muscles need to remain pliable and flexible for successful sessions.
Massage helps loosen the muscles and improve blood flow. Many therapists will use massage before a session to warm up the muscles and joints before any exercises.
Aside from massage, physical therapy will often consist of joint mobilization. Essentially, mobilization is a manual therapy that uses small, gentle, range-of-motion movements to increase flexibility and reduce pain and stiffness.
Joint mobilization is a passive treatment, meaning you are not required to use any effort. The therapist will manage the movements, and while they will likely know your limits, they will watch you for signs of discomfort. Remember, therapy is about building towards progress, not a leapfrog to recovery.
For many injured people, the thought of going to a physical therapy clinic for exercise is daunting. They are in pain, and every ounce of their being tells them to rest and take it easy. However, succumbing to such feelings can lead to worsening injuries and declining mental health.
Exercise is the cornerstone of any physical therapy practice. To recover from physical injuries, you need to rebuild strength and mobility. Simple exercises like balance training may be part of the regimen your therapist assigns. You cannot do either while lounging on a sofa or recliner, hoping to feel better. Recovery takes hard work and dedication.
At first glance, electrical stimulation can look like science fiction. A patient has a number of electrodes placed on their body over their injuries, and a therapist begins sending electric pulses.
In reality, electrical stimulation involves contracting the muscles to increase blood flow to the injured area. Increased blood flow leads to more oxygen and nutrients in the affected area, which helps reduce inflammation.
While ultrasound therapy can sound like a bit of hocus pocus at first, it effectively promotes blood flow and reduces inflammation. The ultrasonic waves penetrate through the skin and deep into the muscle tissue, promoting the healing of damaged ligaments and aiding the recovery of muscle strains.
The procedure is straightforward. The therapist places an ultrasound gel over the injured area to allow for a frictionless transmission of the waves. Then, placing the tool on the skin’s surface, they gently glide the device over the area, transmitting its healing waves.
Effectiveness of Physical Therapy for Old and New Injuries
Seeking physical therapy after a car accident is vital to patient outcomes. The recovery of a fresh injury is more predictable than that of an old injury. Waiting to seek treatment, especially waiting years, can result in significant scarring and permanent damage, which is why physical therapy is strongly encouraged sooner rather than later.
However, a therapist can still help even if you have waited. Never give up on finding relief from an existing ailment, whether from old sports injuries or something from a previous accident.
The Role of Mount Prospect Health Center: Physical Therapy Newark, NJ
Mount Prospect Health Center is a well-established and respected center for physical therapy in Newark, NJ, and the surrounding area. While we specialize in physical therapy and chiropractic care, our more specific specialty is natural, integrative care for accident injuries.
With over 25 years of assisting our community, we have garnered recognition and admiration for our skilled and extremely knowledgeable medical staff and practice. We accept major insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and NJ PIP (Personal Injury Protection). If you need the best physical therapists after a car accident, do not hesitate to call Mount Prospect Health Center and schedule an appointment.