Southwest Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Information Headquarters

Rehab of Motor Vehicle Accidents

Posted by Kale Isaacson on Feb 1, 2012 10:39:00 AM

Crash1CarSo after my last Blog on “The Pathology of”, or the “what can go wrong”
of Motor Vehicle Accidents(MVA), I would be shooting myself in the
foot if I did not take the time to explain what it is that we, the
Physical Therapists, do for you, if you are in the unfortunate
predicament of being in a car accident. We as a profession will always
insist that you first see a physician and have the appropriate X-rays,
etc. that are recommended by your doctor. Once you are cleared by
your physician, ask to be referred to Physical Therapy if he/she does
not automatically do so. The sooner the better to keep your tissues
from becoming tight, your joints from becoming stiff, and the pain
from setting in too much. Also, remember that you, as a consumer of
medical services(i.e., the patient), have the right to go where YOU
want to go for your rehab/ PT. Below is a brief explanation of the

“Tools in our Bag” that we use to help you recover from an MVA:


Depending on how soon it is after the accident, treatment will
vary to some degree, but we almost always get you moving. Gentle
mobility exercises are incorporated either in sitting or lying on your
back. We choose different positions to eliminate gravity and make the
exercises “do-able”. Stretches are used to give you, the patient, tools
to use at home or away from therapy. These stretches keep muscle
from tightening up and/or cramping. At this early stage, the exercise
does not have to be difficult, it just needs to get you moving. In
extremely severe cases, we may not even start exercise; we may need
to just do treatment. As you progress, we will progress with you under
a guided spinal stabilization and extremity strengthening exercise


Manual therapy is a term given to any hands on treatment
involving either the soft tissues or the joints. We are trained in
specialized skills beyond Physical Therapy school to correct joint
position, increase the amount of motion at a specific joint, eliminate
Trigger points( at SWOPT, we use Sean Portman, CMTPT, who is
Board-Certified in trigger point therapy), or work on manual stretching
of muscles that are difficult to stretch on your own.


In rehab, the use of a modality means the application of a
physical therapeutic agent. This includes: heat, ice packs or ice
massage, electric stimulation, ultrasound, and/or traction for the neck
or the lower back. At SWOPT, we selectively use modalities only as a
complement to the overall Exercise and Treatment Regimen. We use
heat to warm a patient up before exercise if needed or before manual
therapy. We may use heat or ice with Electric Stimulation to relieve
muscle tension or soreness after exercise is completed. Ultrasound
may be used with a specific tendinitis to help drive in a steroid agent
to increase circulation and decrease inflammation. Lastly, traction is
used to help relieve pain in the spine and decrease radiculitis in the
arm or leg.untitled

So there you have it; our “Arsenal of Rehab”. I hope that if you
are following this Blog that you will give us a chance to work with you if
you are ever injured. It would be an honor. And if you ever have any
questions about my Blogs, please do not hesitate to E-mail me at or call me at (505)-292-3317. Cheers..................Kale

Topics: health, injuries