Top 5 Questions About Accessing Rehabilitation After an MVA

Unfortunately, in Edmonton, we can experience some intense road conditions in the winter and some aggressive drivers in the summer. As a result, despite our best efforts, many of us will end up in a motor vehicle accident (MVA) at some point during our driving careers. With this in mind, we felt it would be beneficial to share innovation patients’ top five questions after a motor vehicle accident.

Woman holding neck after car accident looking at her phone
Movement of head whiplash

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 confusing because it describes the mechanism of injury and the symptoms. In a rear-impact car collision (“rear-ended”), the head and neck are thrown backwards from the force of the impact and rebound forwards. Whiplash can occur outside of a car accident – other possibilities include contact sports or big falls. Whiplash describes any injury to soft tissue (muscles, tendons and ligaments) resulting from a rapid and forceful neck movement. 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 an 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, they 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 billed directly to the insurance company.

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

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

It is necessary to be assessed by a primary health care provider (physician, physical therapist or chiropractor) within ten days of the accident. This assessment is essential to ensure your injury claim is processed correctly and because it is crucial 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 ten days of the car accident. You must also complete your rehabilitation program within 90 days of the collision.

Man holding neck after car accident

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 ease aches and pain experienced after the MVA through 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 essential 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 in a car accident, contact one of our five clinics throughout Edmonton to book your MVA assessment!

We have convenient locations, including RiverbendBelvedereNamao,  and Southgate.

We’re here to help you, “Love Getting Better!”