• Top 5 Questions About Accessing Rehabilitation After a MVA

    February 10, 2016 | By Tony Yong

    Unfortunately the season of slippery driving conditions is upon us and despite our best efforts many of us will end up in a motor vehicle accident (MVA) this winter. This month we will be answering the top five questions that Innovation patients have after a motor vehicle collision.


    1. What are the most common injuries after an MVA?

    A whiplash injury is the most common injury experienced after a car accident. It is a bit of a confusing term though because it is used to describe both the mechanism of injury and the symptoms themselves. In a rear impact car collision (“rear ended”), the head and neck are thrown backwards from the force of the impact and then rebound forwards. Whiplash can occur outside of a car accident – other possibilities include contact sports or big falls. The term whiplash describes any injury to soft tissue (muscles, tendons and ligaments) resulting from a very rapid and forceful movement of the neck. Whiplash typically does not involve bone fractures which is why it is called a soft tissue injury. The most common symptoms experienced are pain and stiffness in the soft tissues around the neck and upper back.

    2. What kind of rehabilitation is available after an accident?

    In 2004 the Alberta government introduced guidelines to standardize care for people injured in a MVA. Regardless of who is at fault you are eligible for rehabilitation through a physical therapist, chiropractor or massage therapist. After your initial injury assessment by your healthcare provider will tell you how many treatments you are eligible for; most people will receive 10 to 21 treatments depending on the severity of their injury. The cost of these treatments will be directly billed to the insurance company.

    You can also choose to access treatment outside of these protocols. Insurance companies in Alberta are legally required to provide medically required treatment for injuries related to a car accident. This falls under the Section B component of your insurance plan. However, depending on your particular scenario, you may need to use any existing extended health care insurance coverage.

    3. How do I access this care? Do I need a doctor’s referral or permission from my insurance company?

    You must be assessed by a primary health care provider (physician, physical therapist or chiropractor) within 10 days of the accident. This is essential to make sure your injury claim is processed correctly and also because it is very important to get started on the path to healing right away. Make sure you have reported the MVA to your insurance company and you may wish to visit your family doctor if you have serious medical concerns. Otherwise you may directly book an appointment for an assessment with any of the Innovation physical therapists.

    4. When do I have to access these services? Is there a deadline?

    You must complete your initial assessment within 10 days of the car accident. You also have to complete your rehabilitation program within 90 days of the collision.

    5. How can physiotherapy help me recover from an accident?

    Accessing treatment early after any injury increases the likelihood that you will return to your pre-accident level of function and comfort. Physio will help you to ease aches and pain experienced after the MVA through the use of modalities (heat, ultrasound, interferential), gentle manual therapy or soft tissue mobilizations and needling techniques like acupuncture or dry needling (IMS). Your therapist will also prescribe exercises to help regain any lost mobility and guide you in your return to your normal activities like work, sports and hobbies.  Most people will recover to their pre-accident levels however it is important to enlist the help of injury experts to guide you in this process. Discover how car accident physiotherapy is different at Innovation Physical Therapy.

    If you have been involved in a car accident, call Innovation Physical Therapy today to book your motor vehicle accident assessment!