It’s easy to panic after a car accident, especially when other vehicles are involved. Your adrenaline is intensified, and there are too many thoughts circling your head… “am I OK?” “Is everybody else ok?” “Was this my fault?”, “How will this affect my insurance?”.
This guide will walk you through caring for yourself after a multi-vehicle collision (MVA), discussing what treatments might be right for you, including physiotherapy, We’ll also discuss tips to improve your recovery.
THE FIRST 72 HOURS
Physicians have confirmed, the first three days after a car accident are crucial and can determine how well you heal. This is when swelling, especially from whiplash is at its worst. A soft tissue injury can cause permanent scar tissue to form on a muscle that isn’t treated immediately. You’re also more likely to reinjure yourself if you’re not properly examined in the first few days.
ALL ABOUT WHIPLASH
While examining you, the doctor or physiotherapist will gently touch and move your head, neck, and arms. This is to test the range of motion in your shoulders and neck. Your reflexes and strength in this area will also be tested.
It’s rare when whiplash shows up on imaging tests, but it’s likely your doctor will order x-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI anyway, to dismiss other conditions that could be responsible for your pain.
The goals when treating whiplash are to restore range of motion in your neck, control pain, and get you back to your daily activities as early as possible.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to treating whiplash, your plan should be customized, depending on the extent of your injuries. Pain is usually treated with rest and hot or cold packs. Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medications may also be temporarily recommended. Soft foam cervical collars aren’t used very often these days as studies have confirmed that keeping your neck still for too long can decrease muscle strength. Still, a collar may be used for up to three days to help limit movement; during the day and even while you’re sleeping.
TYPES OF TREATMENT
When coming up with a treatment plan, it’s important to consider ADL’s (activities of daily living). This includes your workplace demands and recreational activities you’d like to resume.
MVA injuries most likely to occur, that require treatment include:
- Whiplash and neck pain
- Low back pain
- Muscle and ligament sprains and strains
- Post-op / post-cast recovery
- Muscle tears and tendinitis
- Cognitive impairment
FINDING THE RIGHT CARE
A traumatic MVA can introduce a wide array of physical injuries and cognitive deficits. Finding a health, wellness and rehab center that offers a variety of experts and treatments such as physiotherapy and aqua therapy will speed your recovery. Including massage and acupuncture will also improve the process. Their priority should be your rehabilitation so don’t be afraid to ask questions or speak up when you’re feeling any discomfort.
Your physiotherapist will teach you specific stretching and movement exercises that you can easily do in your home. It’s important to stay consistent with your at-home exercises. Many people give up after the first two weeks; doing the exercises and being honest with your physiotherapist is a key factor in the rehabilitation process.