AOPT Health Blog
The Role of Physical Therapy in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents can be very traumatizing to the body causing a wide variety of injuries from whiplash to broken bones. Physical therapy is an important part of the recovery process following an MVA to help reduce your pain and stiffness as well as avoid long term injuries.

Common Injuries Sustained During an MVA

All motor vehicle accidents are different, and the injuries sustained depend mostly on the type of collision, your location in the vehicle, age, and existing medical conditions if any. Some of the most common injuries associated with MVAs are:

  • Concussion
  • Whiplash
  • Shoulder injury
  • Back injury
  • Neck pain
  • Radiating arm or leg pain

Red Flag Symptoms

If any of the following symptoms occurred following an MVA see a doctor immediately.

  • Loss of consciousness/ altered consciousness
  • Obvious physical deformity/fracture
  • Neurological symptoms – loss of sensation, one-sided weakness, altered bowel or bladder function, seizures, or visual disturbance.


Physical therapists are well equipped to treat any and all injuries you may have sustained in an MVA. During your appointment, the physical therapist will listen to your medical history, test your strength and range of motion, and perform special tests to get a full picture of your injuries and develop a treatment plan. Treatment often includes a combination of pain education, manual therapy, stretching, and a personalized strengthening home program to improve posture, endurance and restore movement. Post-concussion management is growing area of physical therapy specialty of which your physical therapist will develop a treatment and rehab program to address the complications associated with this diagnosis. Often, patients benefit from ergonomic and body mechanic training to reduce strain to injured areas of the body through the recovery process. Your physical therapist will tailor your plan of care based on your individual needs.

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