March 2014 Newsletter

Slips, Whips and Falls – Treating Injuries After Accidents

We feel that it is of the utmost importance that an early return to usual activities takes place after a car accident or fall and that prescribed rest should always be limited to a short duration. Most importantly, the patient with whiplash needs to be informed that usual activities may be temporarily painful but are not harmful.

Although whiplash is the most common injury seen after a motor vehicle accident, we also treat a variety of other injuries resulting from an accident, including fractures, sprains, and strains of other body parts, and chest or knee contusions which result from impact with the steering wheel, dashboard or airbag.

Comprehensive Rehabilitation Program

We have found that a combination of the following treatment modalities is very effective at helping the patient return to their pre-accident function:

Passive joint mobilization. A therapist gently and repetitively moves the joints in the neck region to reduce pain and restore normal movement in the neck. This can be used if it reduces your symptoms.

Acupuncture. Fine needles are inserted into specific points on the body. Acupuncture can significantly reduce symptoms of pain and discomfort.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) or Interferential Current (IFC), Heat, Ice, Massage, Ultrasound. These passive treatments/electrotherapies help to reduce inflammation, pain and to speed up healing in the injured tissues.

Active Stretching, Strengthening and Conditioning Program. After an accident, people often are scared to move too much in case they hurt themselves further. This fear often can lead to greater harm if they do not move enough and end up getting very stiff. It is important to begin gentle active movements ASAPafteran accident within pain tolerance.

Massage Therapy. Massage Therapy involves a range of manual techniques applied to the soft tissues (muscles) and joints of the body. The purpose of Registered Massage Therapy is to relieve pain, as well as rehabilitate and improve physical function. This can be very important after an accident as the muscles become tight and stiff from guarding against the impact.

Education. It is very important to teach our patients the many strategies available to ensure that the person can return to their previous level of activity as soon as possible. Issues addressed include correct posture, lifting techniques, pacing, home and workplace modifications, and usage of aids in helping everyday function.

Anti-inflammatory medication. For more severe cases, anti-inflammatories can be prescribed by your doctor in the short term to reduce pain and swelling. Use of this form of medication should be limited as it may have side effects such as stomach pain and nausea.

An important thing to remember if you have been in an accident is to not delay in seeking help and treatment. Effects of a more serious crash may recur over 6-18 months.

Rehabilitation and Functionality

After the initial acute phase following an accident, it is important to get back what you have lost. Whether that be your movement, strength, muscle mass or confidence, it’s paramount to get back to doing what you did before. A large part of that is progressing through a rehab program that includes exercises focusing on the areas that have been injured. This can range from simple movements using your own body weight to involving free weights.


As with most things, trying to avoid negative outcomes before they happen is the best “medicine”, whether that be wearing proper footwear while driving or paying more attention (Don’t Text!). In those instances where a fall or car accident does occur, the next best approach is to be proactive in your care for that injury. This means promptly getting treatment to the injured areas (by a health practitioner). The sooner you get in for treatment, the better your chances of healing faster. If you take the “maybe it will go away” approach to injuries, they are more likely to linger or become chronic.


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