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Car crash? Physical therapy can help! Physical therapy for whiplash

Physical therapy can have many benefits, including stretching, strengthening, and proper posture. But did you know that physical therapy can be an essential part of your post-car crash care?

It's medically important to take care of yourself and address any injuries or pain after a car accident. One of the most common car crash injuries (suffered by 3 million Americans each year!) is whiplash, which is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck. During whiplash your neck and head are suddenly forced back and forth, putting your cervical spine through lightning-quick motions that can have serious consequences.

Symptoms of whiplash can be diverse, ranging from neck pain, blurred vision and headaches to shoulder pain, dizziness and reduced range of motion… But physical therapy here at Buffalo Chiropractic, Acupuncture & Physical Therapy may help with all of these ailments and more.

How physical therapy can help

When most people think of physical therapy, they think of stretching and strengthening. Strengthening is using exercises under the care of your physical therapist to improve your range of motion, strengthen your muscles and help you on your road to recovery! While it’s not recommended to stretch within the first 48 hours after your crash, your physical therapist can help you with special exercises to prevent further injury and help improve your range of motion.

Strengthening exercises can help build up the muscles in your neck, shoulders, arms, and other areas affected by whiplash. It’s especially important to keep up with your strength training at home and complete the exercises your physical therapist recommends to you. Some of our most popular strengthening exercises among our patients are general neck range of motion, light aerobic activity (walking, stationary bike, etc.) and chin tucks to strengthen cervical flexors. Your physical therapist will create a personalized plan of care to work on strength training. (Note: If you have been injured in a car crash or are experiencing pain, please consult a licensed physical therapist before trying these exercises on your own.)

Stretching is an important part of preparing for any physical exercise or body movement, and preparing for your physical therapy session is no different. However, physical therapists typically will not recommend stretching the neck since the sudden whipping motion of the neck tends to severely strain tissues and overstretch them.

How to best prepare for your first PT appointment after an accident

After you’ve arrived safely home from the crash site or the hospital if you sustained more serious injuries, set an appointment with your physical therapist to start injury care immediately. Once you’ve set an appointment, though, how do you help manage your pain in the meantime?

Our BCA-PT physical therapists recommend the following to prepare for your first PT appointment after an accident:

  1. Apply ice/heat for 10-15 minute sessions to areas of pain, giving 30 minutes in between each session to let sensation return to the area

  2. If you were prescribed medication by your doctor, take it as directed.

  3. Try to keep things as comfortable as possible!

Until your physical therapist is able to assess the extent of the injury to determine an appropriate movement plan and custom healing strategies, it’s best to lay low. Now’s the time to catch up on some Netflix shows- or just rest and take it easy until your appointment. Once you’ve had your first appointment, your physical therapist will be able to understand the best plan of action moving forward and help you on your road to recovery!

Injured in a car crash? Stop waiting and start healing!

If you were one of the 3 million Americans to suffer whiplash injuries in the past 12 months- you’re not alone, and you don’t have to suffer! Our physical therapists at BCA-PT are specially trained to handle these types of injuries, and we’re ready to help you get back on the road to recovery with the best care in town. Call 892-8811 or fill out our contact form at the bottom of this page to learn more- stop waiting and start healing today!

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