What to Know About Physical Therapy After a Car Accident

If you’re injured in a car accident, it can be a long road to recovery. For your injuries, the law may allow you to seek compensation. As part of your damages, not only might your immediate medical costs be included in a calculation, but your ongoing costs related to your injuries may also be part of that. 


Ongoing costs of a car accident injury can include physical therapy. 

Whether or not you need physical therapy can depend on the type of injuries you sustain and the severity of an accident. 


For example, if you were injured by a drunk driver, then your injuries are likely to be more severe. 


While severe injuries are more likely to need physical therapy, minor injuries can benefit from physical therapy too. One of the most common car accident injuries is whiplash, where your head and neck are injured because they move forward quickly and violently, and this condition can benefit from physical therapy. 


The following are some things to know about physical therapy, especially following a car accident. 

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is also referred to as PT. During PT, the goal of treatment is to reduce pain and help you function and move better. 


Specific reasons you might need physical therapy aside from pain relief are to improve your mobility, prevent surgery or disability, or to learn how to use an assistive device, such as a cane. 


A physical therapist is a licensed health professional. 


A physical therapist will go over your condition and then create a care plan, which may include hands-on treatment and teaching you exercises you can do on your own. 

In many states, you don’t need a doctor’s referral to go to a physical therapist, but your doctor may also send you to one. 


Some insurance policies require you to have a prescription to see a physical therapist. 

Going to a physical therapist for an injury following a car accident is usually part of a larger effort with a team of health care professionals who each play a unique role. 

Why Should You Go to a Physical Therapist?

A physical therapist is trained to treat underlying musculoskeletal injuries that frequently occur because of car accidents. They also create customized treatment plans based on your specific condition and your needs. 


You can repair your damaged muscles and tissues and rebuild strength. 

If your injuries were very severe, your physical therapist could work with you to relearn how to do everyday activities. 


Specific things you might do with your physical therapist include:

  1. Manual therapy which helps promote the healing of damaged tissue and reduces inflammation. 

  2. Custom exercises to help with back, shoulder, or neck pain or spine issues. 

  3. Postural training, which helps with pain in the neck, back, and shoulders. 

  4. Stabilizing and strengthening weak areas. 

Benefits of Physical Therapy After a Car Accident

The specific benefits you might get from physical therapy following a car accident include:

  1. Physical therapy can help you recover better and faster. You may be able to minimize or even stop some of the long-term effects of your injuries. 

  2. Going to physical therapy after you’re hurt in a car accident can help prevent secondary damage and injuries. When you’re weak after an accident, it’s much easier to fall or to hurt yourself further. 

  3. Going to physical therapy can help you either avoid pain medicines altogether or significantly reduce your reliance on them. 

  4. Physical therapy can boost your mental state. Dealing with the emotional fallout of a car accident is tough, but when you go to physical therapy, it can help you feel stronger and more confident, which is good for your mood and mental health. 

  5. If you were hurt because of another driver’s action, and you go to physical therapy, it can help you create a pattern of care, which you may need in an eventual legal claim. 


How Long Do You Go to Physical Therapy?

There’s no one answer as to how long you might go to physical therapy after an accident. It depends on a range of individual factors including the type of injury you have and your treatment goals. 


When you make your first appointment with a physical therapist, you’ll get a better idea of how long your treatment may last. 


If your doctor recommends it, or you independently feel it could help you, physical therapy can have a lot of value in your life after a car accident, even for fairly minor injuries.


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