Whiplash, Neck Injuries & Auto Injuries
Our registered physiotherapists are trained to professionally assess and treat whiplash, back, shoulder and other auto accident related injuries. If you sustain personal injuries in a car accident, auto insurance will cover the cost of physiotherapy. You do not need a doctor's prescription and our physiotherapists will assess the extent of your injuries and help you with your insurance claim.
The rapid motion of the neck during a crash can result in a number of injuries. Many of these injuries are impossible to see on x-rays or MRI. Even though there may be minimal damage to your car, you can still sustain whiplash. In fact, even at low speeds, occupants can experience severe whiplash.
Whiplash injuries can be compounded if your head restraint is too low or if your head is turned at the time of injury.
Your head is meant to bend either forwards and backwards or to turn from side to side. But your head is not meant to turn sideways and tilt backwards simultaneously. If you gently move your head forward or backwards, you will notice a wide range of motion. However, if you gently turn your head to the side and try to slowly move your head backwards and forwards, you will notice that there is very little range of motion or flexibility.
Most whiplash injuries involve soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments and discs).
However, there can also be fractures and rim lesions.
This picture illustrates the most common areas of whiplash induced vertebrae
and soft tissue injuries.
Whiplash Referred Pain Patterns
The most common facets to be injured are at C2/C3
and C5/C6 which frequently results in referred pain at
the locations indicated. As a result of facet joint injury,
whiplash patients frequently encounter, headaches, back
and shoulder pain in addition to neck pain.
C2/3, C3/4, C3
C3/4, C4/5, C4
C6/7, C6, C7
C4/5, C5/6, C4
C4/5, C5/6, C4, C5
A complete assessment by a physiotherapist is required
to determine the true nature and extent of any injuries.
How we treat whiplash and auto injuries
When most whiplash and auto injury patients first come to our clinic, they are in significant pain. This is referred to as the Acute Phase. Patients frequently have little or no range of motion in their neck. These injuries may be compounded by back pain, head aches, bruises, lacerations, sprains and fractures.
In most cases, our immediate goal is to assist in relieving pain and increasing range of motion. A course of low intensity laser therapy and hot or cold packs are usually the best treatment options in the initial phase. Low intensity laser therapy (LILT) is a painless procedure that will quickly reduce swelling and bruising while stimulating tissue repair.
Since laser therapy promotes collagen production, there is a reduction in scar tissue formation in torn muscles, tendons, cartilage and ligaments. Ultimately this results in better tissue repair, increased range of motion and increased tensile strength of the ligaments, tendons and muscles.
Researchers have recently found that bone repair is stimulated by laser therapy and can increase the rate of repair by up to four times. In addition, fractured bones heal better with laser therapy.
In the acute phase, large bruises are frequently present and can be very painful. Sometimes, a bruise may become solid and increase in size instead of dissolving. This may indicate blood trapped in the tissues. This is referred to as a hematoma. Less commonly, the body may develop calcium deposits at the injury site in a process called heterotopic ossification. In addition to stimulating cellular repair, laser therapy helps stimulate lymphatic drainage and can prevent complications from developing. We have observed that large bruises and hematomas usually heal quickly with the appropriate course of laser therapy.
As the patient progresses to the sub-acute phase, we may introduce massage therapy and active therapy to the laser therapy and hyperthermy treatment program.
In the acute phase, massage therapy is usually not recommend due to pain and soft tissue injuries. However, as the patient progresses to the sub-acute phase of recovery, massage therapy can help break down adhesions, relax muscles, increase range of motion, increase circulation, promote pain relief and augment physical function.
Active therapy is also not recommended at the acute phase due to extensive soft tissue damage that may be present, increased pain from soft tissue damage and the potential of impeding tissue repair. As the patient progresses to the sub-acute phase, strength and range of motion exercises become increasingly more important if normal function is to be obtained. In most cases, initial exercises will be passive as we strive to attain increased range of motion. Gentle, strengthening exercises are introduced as the patient's pain diminishes and soft tissue repair has progressed.
Our multi-faceted physiotherapy treatment regime has been clinically tested in combination with the BioFlex laser therapy protocols. This program is designed to Get you better, faster, so you may return to a normal lifestyle.
Our results-focused team includes registered physiotherapists, registered massage therapists and certified kinesiologists. Our services are covered by auto insurance, extended healthcare benefit plans and Veteran Affairs (see insurance for more information.)