Car accident victims often feel that their lives have been turned upside down and it can be very difficult to return to the life they had before the motor vehicle accident due to their physical, emotional and mental injuries.

It is very important for those injured in a car accident to follow their doctor’s orders and get plenty of rest.  It is often recommended that accident victims attend physical therapy to help restore range of motion and normal functioning to their injured muscles.


Physical therapy is a type of non-invasive treatment that attempts to relieve pain and help those that are injured to function, move and live a better quality of life.  Physical therapists or physiotherapists are licensed professionals that will evaluate your condition and then develop a plan of care.  They perform hands-on treatment for your symptoms and also teach you exercises to help improve your mobility and function.

During your initial appointment, a physical therapist will evaluate and assess your overall condition by asking questions and taking specific measurements.  They will typically measure the following:

  • Strength;
  • Range of motion;
  • Flexibility;
  • Balance;
  • Joint mobility;
  • Neurological function;
  • Pain;
  • Cardiac function;
  • Pulmonary function; and
  • Overall functional mobility.

Physical therapists use a variety of techniques to help decrease pain and stiffness and improve motion, strength and mobility.  They often use heat, ice, ultrasound or electrical stimulation, therapeutic exercise and patient education to help you understand your diagnosis and prognosis. 


Whiplash & Headaches

Whiplash is a common injury affecting those that are involved in a motor vehicle accident.  Whiplash is a term that describes a neck sprain or strain that often results from being rear-ended in a car, when the neck suddenly jerks backwards and forwards from the impact of the accident.  An injury of this nature damages the soft tissues in the neck, including the ligaments, tendons and discs.

Whiplash can cause neck pain, stiffness and limited range of motion.  Some individuals also experience the following symptoms:

  • Upper to mid back pain;
  • Headache;
  • Tenderness;
  • Stiffness;
  • Pain in the shoulder, upper back or arms;
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms;
  • Fatigue;
  • Dizziness;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus); and/or
  • Cognitive symptoms, including difficulty sleeping, problems with memory and concentration, irritability and depression.

Some individuals experience whiplash symptoms immediately and they may get worse a day or two following the accident.  There are those who do not notice whiplash symptoms until several days after the accident.  Your doctor can conduct tests and evaluations to determine if you are suffering from whiplash, including x-rays, MRI and CT scans.

Physical therapy can help those suffering from whiplash injuries and headaches by helping the individual to relax, stretch and strengthen the neck muscles. 

Back and Neck Strains

Back and neck strains as a result of a car accident can be very restricting and can severely impact daily productivity.  Rest and alternating between ice and heat can help ease the pain associated with back and neck strains.

Once the pain has reduced, it is important to start physical therapy to help strengthen the muscles in the back to prevent the pain from recurring.  Physical therapists can recommend stretches to release and relax muscles and suggest strengthening exercises to increase power in the back muscles.

Shoulder Strains

Stiffness and pain in the shoulders are fairly common injuries caused by car accidents.  If shoulder pain continues following the accident, physical therapy might be helpful.  Physical therapy uses deep tissue massage, myofascial release and exercises to focus on releasing the tension in the shoulder muscles and increasing range of motion in the shoulders, arms and back.  Stretches and strengthening exercises to perform at home can also be beneficial.


Physical therapy can help speed up your recovery from injuries sustained in a car accident and it can also help to regain strength, range of motion, movement and function in the injured areas of the body. 

Another benefit of physical therapy is that it can help the injured individual’s mental health by boosting his/her mood.  Those that are suffering from depression, anxiety, low mood or irritability as a result of the car accident may find that physical therapy improves their overall mental health.  Feeling better both emotionally and physically can help speed up the recovery process.

Physical therapy can also help prevent additional injuries.  When your body is already in a weakened state from the car accident, you are more vulnerable to suffer a fall or strain due to weakened muscles from lack of use. 

Performing exercises under the supervision of health professionals may also help you to avoid surgery, eliminate the need for prescription medications or speed up your recovery after surgery.

Attending regular physical therapy appointments also shows a pattern of care and provides medical documentation of your injuries, your progress and your efforts to improve your condition following the accident.  If your doctor recommends physical therapy, it is important for you to follow his/her recommendations in order to show that you are not overstating your injuries and that you are serious about your recovery.


If you have been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is critical that you speak with a lawyer regarding your situation as soon as possible so as not to jeopardize any opportunity to seek compensation.  The award-winning personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP can help.  Please contact us online or at 403-571-0555.  It is important that you call us promptly so we can help you understand your rights and the potential to recover compensation for your injuries.  Call our office for a free consultation to determine how we can help you.