ICBC reports that there were an average of 960 motor vehicle accidents (MVA) per day in BC over the most recent year. With the more densely populated Greater Vancouver area accounting for the greatest number of drivers, our region’s contribution to that staggering number is beyond significant. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you have recently been in an MVA and if so, you absolutely need to see a physiotherapist as soon as you’re able. Here’s why.
5 Reasons Why You Must Consult With a Physiotherapist Soon After You’ve Been in an Automobile Accident
1. Receive Immediate Treatment and Therapy for Current Injuries
In some instances acute injuries sustained in a car accident will require a splint, brace, plaster cast, traction, or surgical insertion of metal rods or plates. The timeline for physical therapy will certainly be contingent upon this. Regardless, as soon as you’ve been discharged from the hospital and can comfortably visit a physiotherapy clinic near you, it is a good idea to have that first consultation so that you can find out when rehabilitation can begin. It may be sooner than you think!
However, in many cases MVA-caused acute injuries that include trauma to one or more areas of the body such as a muscle, bone, or joint can be addressed right away by a physiotherapist. This is not one area that you want to procrastinate on. That means you should not “wait and see” what the pain feels like a week from now, as in some cases corrective action can be taken right away to mitigate the potential for (and severity of) pain.
Outside of broken/fractured bones, common automobile accident injuries include (but are not exclusive to) the following:
- Whiplash (hyperextension or cervical sprain/strain) – Characterized by sharp neck pain, neck stiffness, back problems, and even cognitive issues including a lack of concentration and memory loss.
- Back injuries – These may range from minor strains and sprains to more serious conditions such as herniated discs. Typical symptoms (beyond direct back pain) include numbness or tingling, arm and leg pain, and muscle weakness.
- Spinal cord injuries – Outside of extreme cases (severed spinal cord) that can result in full or partial paralysis, spinal cord injuries that can be addressed by physiotherapy may include bruising, excessive pressure, impairment to the spinal cord and/or nerves. Non-severe symptoms can include pain, discomfort, and limited feeling or loss of certain reflexes. Note: spinal cord injuries can be very serious and must first be addressed by your physician.
- Shoulder injuries – Characterized by limited mobility, range of motion, and pain from tears, strains, dislocation or fracture.
- Other – There may be swelling, pain, weakness and an inability to use one or more muscles or joints. This can occur from head to toe so a full examination is required.
All of the above can be addressed with physiotherapy. A full-service clinic will be able to prescribe a regime that includes a wide variety of treatments. While chiropractic therapy can be applied to treat post-MVA whiplash, whiplash associated disorders, other neck pain, back pain, headaches, and more, there are numerous therapies that can be applied to treat acute injuries sustained in an automobile accident. The bottom line, is that if you have any hope of effectively treating these injuries and managing the pain today and the pain to come, a prompt visit to a clinic with a chiropractor on staff is absolutely essential.
2. A Physiotherapist Will Also Address Underlying Injuries and Assess Potential for Future Chronic Pain
Not all injuries from an automobile accident will rear the head (via pain and discomfort) right away. Any failure to address them today can not only negatively impact your future quality of life, it can result in a dramatically underestimated ICBC claim. It will be hard to recoup the loss of future wages and payments for treatment months or even years after an accident, when they (the injuries) finally become evident.
The combined efforts of a chiropractor and physiotherapy team can provide you with the most comprehensive assessment possible, prescribing treatment and therapy not only for the pain you feel today, but the chronic problems (including migraines) that may result. By working closely with you to to improve strength, flexibility, and mobility, the team can correct current ailments while preventing long-term damage. Simply put, the earlier you see a physiotherapist after an accident, the more likely you are to live a relatively pain-free life for decades to come.
3. Physio Can Help You Avoid the Need for Surgery
Surgery can be required to fix certain acute injuries such as a severely broken bone (where metal rods/screws are required, etc.). However, you may be able to skip going under the knife when it comes to the potential for future surgery that may otherwise be prescribed to address pain and lack of function in muscles, tendons, and ligaments. For example, some car accident victims may have developed spinal stenosis after a car accident. A recent study from Harvard found that physical therapy is as good as surgery and in fact less risky for this type of lower back pain. This is just one of many studies that show physio can be an alternative for surgery to treat post-MVA injury. Again, the longer you wait, the worse an ailment can get, and the more likely surgery will be needed. Take the minimally invasive route by seeking the services of a chiropractor and physiotherapist.
4. Physio Can Help You Avoid the Need for Painkillers
The abuse of prescription painkillers and opioids has reached epidemic proportions across the country and continent. Those who have not received prompt and adequate physical therapy treatment after a car accident and thus suffer from chronic pain may seek (and be prescribed) painkillers and opioids to relieve the pain. This can lead victims down a dangerous and dependent route. This concern is compounded further when you consider that studies show opioid painkillers may increase car accident risk, creating a viscious circle in the process. By working with a chiropractor and physiotherapist soon after your accident, you significantly limit the need for painkillers and the risk that comes along with potential abuse or over reliance.
5. It’s FREE
If you find a clinic with a registered ICBC Chiropractic provider, there will NO FEES CHARGED with a valid ICBC claim, even if you are at fault. The office can direct bill ICBC on your behalf so you do not have to pay out of pocket. All you need to do is to provide your claim number and the clinic will confirm your coverage. Better yet – no medical doctor referral is needed. If you reside in the Lower Mainland of BC, you’ll be pleased to know that Absolute PhysioCare is such a clinic. Don’t wait any longer to begin rehabilitation – there’s nothing left to hold you back, and yet everything to gain!