Seek Physical Therapy after a Motor Vehicle Accident

Seek Physical Therapy after a Motor Vehicle Accident

Here at the Center of Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine a fair amount of our clients come to us following their involvement in some sort of motor vehicle accident. According to VDOT, there were over 100,000 vehicle crashes in the state in 2019 with over 56,000 reported injuries. That equates to roughly 155 peoople injured in car accidents every day. After a motor vehicle accident, it is important to receive timely medical care. In that way, something as simple as acute neck pain doesn’t become a chronic impairment.

Previous treatment for MVA-related injuries included lots of rest, prescribed pain medications, use of heat or ice and the use of a neck brace for those with whiplash. While these are important adjuncts to healing, these measures are simply Band-aids. They do not address the orgin of the pain. Due to an overabundance of research, the present day philosophy for treatment of traumatic joint and soft-tissues injuries focuses on early intervention and activity from physical therapy.

Physical therapy treatment after an injury from a crash helps greatly reduce pain, minimize joint stiffness, and restore full range of motion for affected body parts. Not every injury type, severity and location are the same nor show up immediately after the accident. The onset of some injuries can occur anywhere from days to even months after the accident. The severity of issues can depend on a number of factors, to include:

  • Seatbelt usage
  • Angle of collisions (front, side or rear)
  • Speed of crash
  • Airbag deployment
  • Direction that the injured person was facing
  • Pre-existing conditions

The most common impairments or injuries seen in physical therapy due to MVAs are:

  • Concussion
  • Neck/Shoulder injuries from whiplash
  • Low back injuries
  • Soft-tissue injuries
  • Numbness/tingling and weakness
  • Dizziness/headaches

Immediately following an accident, if any of the following symptoms are present, seek medical advice ASAP:

  • Loss of consciousness/altered consciousness
  • Obvious physical deformity/fracture
  • Neurological symptoms like loss of sensation, one-sided weakness, altered bowel or bladder function, visual disturbances

We at the Center of Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine are well equipped to treat any and all injuries you may have sustained in an MVA. During your appointment, we will listen to your medical history, test your strength and range of motion and perform special tests to get a full picture of your injuries and develop a specific treatment plan tailored directly for you. Treatment often includes a combination of pain education, manual therapy (soft-tissue work, joint mobilizations, gentle stretching) and a personalized home exercise program to improve posture, endurance and restore movement. Post-concussion managment is vital as well and your physical therapist will develop a treatment and rehab program to address the complications associated with this diagnosis. Often, patients benefit from ergonomic and body mechanic training to reduce strain to injured areas of the body through the recovery process. We will tailor your plan of care based on your individual needs to help you recover more quickly and more completely.


Rich Linkonis, DPT, OCS, COMT, Cert. DN