A serious car accident can injure just about any part of your body. The types of therapy you might require will depend on the specific injuries you suffered, their severity, your age and medical history, and a variety of other factors.
In this blog, we’ll discuss a few common kinds of therapy that are often beneficial to car accident victims. We’ll also provide some general tips that may speed up your recovery time.
3 Common Types of Therapy for Car Accident Victims
It’s easy to focus only on the physical impact of a severe injury, but the financial and emotional effects of a sudden accident can be just as devastating. If you have been injured in a collision, you may benefit from physical therapy, occupational therapy, and therapy that addresses the psychological effects of such a traumatic event.
1. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is an incredibly versatile medical field that aims to increase flexibility, improve range of motion, and restore strength and function. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy if you have suffered neck or spinal trauma, soft tissue damage, nerve inflammation, or a broken or fractured bone.
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained in motor-vehicle crashes. Symptoms may include neck and shoulder pain or stiffness, headaches, dizziness, vision problems, and reduced range of motion in the neck. Physical therapy can be highly effective for people who have suffered whiplash.
Treatment may involve:
- Tests to identify any neurological issues;
- Balance and eye control rehabilitation; and
- Exercises and stretches to reduce pain, improve posture, and restore range of motion.
When Should I Begin Physical Therapy After a Car Accident?
Only your doctor can answer this question, but most people should start physical therapy within one week of being injured. If you delay treatment, it may extend your recovery time and increase the risk of long-term complications.
What Are the Sub-Specialties of Physical Therapy?
There are many sub-specialties within the physical therapy field. Depending on your medical history, the type of injury you sustained, and other factors, it may be necessary for several different specialists to participate in the development of your treatment plan.
Physical therapy sub-specialties include:
Orthopedic Physical Therapy: Focuses on restoring musculoskeletal function including ligaments, bones, joints, and tendons. Treatments include endurance exercises, ultrasound, joint mobilization, electrical stimulation, and stretching.
Geriatric Physical Therapy: Focuses on the needs of older adults such as reducing pain and restoring mobility. Treatments are tailored to people with arthritis, balance disorders, and other age-related conditions.
Neurological Physical Therapy: Focuses on improving neurological impairments and conditions related to cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries. Treatments aim to allow patients to live autonomously by helping them adapt to changes in mobility, balance, cognitive function, and vision.
Pediatric Physical Therapy: Focuses on the needs of infants and young children. Treatments aim to address complications arising from acute injuries, head trauma, muscle injuries, and orthopedic disabilities.
2. Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapists often play a critical role in car accident recovery. Unlike physical therapy, which involves treating injuries directly through massage, muscular stimulation, and other manual techniques, occupational therapy focuses specifically on restoring or improving the patient’s ability to live independently and engage in school, leisure, and/or work.
It is not uncommon for serious car accident injuries to prevent a person from earning an income and partaking in the activities they enjoyed before the crash. Occupational therapists evaluate what patients cannot do and what they would like to do in order to set achievable goals. They then create a plan to help clients attain those goals, which may involve:
- Making any necessary changes to the physical setup of the person’s work, home, and other environments;
- Practicing mental exercises to improve organizational skills and memory;
- Participating in physical therapy;
- Identifying any devices needed to improve the client’s mobility such as a wheelchair;
- Buying furniture, tools, and utensils to allow the person to live more independently; and
- Addressing any emotional and social needs.
Motor-vehicle collisions are a leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the United States. Common symptoms of car accident-related PTSD include:
Reliving Painful Memories: People who suffer PTSD often relive the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks. This can trigger profound emotional responses including anxiety, guilt, fear, and depression, and may lead to physical symptoms such as heart palpitations and panic attacks.
Avoidance: PTSD can cause a person to avoid any situations and people who trigger memories of the traumatic event. In the case of car accident-related PTSD, sufferers might refuse to drive or avoid riding in a motor vehicle altogether. They might also distance themselves from other people who were involved in the crash and avoid the location where it occurred.
Intense Emotional Responses: Post-traumatic stress disorder can cause a person to react to situations differently than they did before the incident. For instance, if you were a cautious driver before the crash, you might suddenly become more aggressive behind the wheel. It is also common for PTSD sufferers to have irrational outbursts, difficulty focusing, and unfounded fears of being in danger.
If you are diagnosed with PTSD, your doctor might recommend psychotherapy including:
Exposure Therapy: This involves gradually exposing a person to the event that causes PTSD symptoms, which helps the individual develop coping mechanisms and overcome irrational fears.
Medications: SSRIs, SNRIs, and MAOIs may help reduce the fear and anxiety associated with PTSD.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT focuses on changing irrational emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It may help you identify problems more clearly, become aware of automatic thoughts, view situations from a different perspective, and develop more positive thought patterns.
Tips to Speed up Car Accident Injury Recovery Time
The most important step you can take to speed up your recovery time is to seek medical attention as soon as possible. From there, it is essential that you follow your doctor’s instructions exactly. You should also get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated.
Taking your medical care seriously not only may improve the outcome of your treatment, but it also might put you in a better position to file a successful personal injury claim. If you neglect your health care, the insurer might argue that you are at least partially to blame for the severity of your injuries, which might reduce the amount of compensation you recover.
Will the Driver Who Caused My Accident Have to Pay for My Therapy?
The best way to answer this question is to speak with a personal injury lawyer. At the Law Office of Michael D. Waks, we will evaluate your case for free and help you identify all potential avenues for pursuing compensation.
If your collision was caused by another driver’s negligence, you should have grounds for a personal injury claim. In most cases, you would file this claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Even if the driver who is responsible for your crash was uninsured, you might have several options for recovering compensation. For example, if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, collision coverage, or medical payments coverage (Med Pay), you may be able to file a claim against your own insurance provider. And if the at-fault driver has the finances or assets to cover your losses, your attorney might recommend filing a lawsuit directly against the driver.
Discuss Your Case with a Long Beach Car Accident Lawyer
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you are facing steep medical bills and lost wages after a motor-vehicle collision, turn to the Law Office of Michael D. Waks. We provide aggressive and compassionate legal representation to victims of personal injury and wrongful death throughout Southern California. To schedule a free initial consultation with a Long Beach car accident attorney, call us today at (562) 206-1939 or use our Contact Page to message us online.
Stay Prepared with Our Car Accident .PDF
Recording the right information at the scene of a collision can be the difference between filing a successful claim and facing an uphill legal battle. Click Here to download our helpful .pdf, and keep it in your glove compartment so you’re prepared in the worst-case scenario.
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