Was your car repaired from your accident long ago but your neck and back still seem broken? Do you wondering if you will ever be able to perform activities you did before your accident? Or does it feel like your calendar is filled with never ending appointments?
Passive Versus Active Therapy
Guidance from your doctor can help you forge out a path to recovery. They will suggest an appropriate therapy for you to start with. Not all therapy is the same. Therapies can be grouped into two major categories – passive and active. We use passive treatment to describe therapies that do not require the patient to do anything physical as such massage therapy, ultrasound, chiropractic treatment, or acupuncture. Passive therapy is used to lower your pain or inflammation, but the effect is short lived. We use the phrase active therapy or active rehabilitation to describe exercise based treatment (for example: strength exercises, core stability exercises, or stretches). Active rehabilitation helps to increase your strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and repair soft tissue. Therapeutic exercise is highly effective in helping people to recover from car accident related injuries. Unfortunately, many injured people suffer from pain for extended period of time before starting active rehabilitation.
Passive Therapy Is The Start
Immediately following a car accident, you may have considerable pain. Passive therapy will be your saviour. However, if you only participate in passive treatment you will likely reach a plateau in your recovery. What’s next?
When Are You Ready For Active Rehabilitation?
When your pain is less severe, and you can perform gentle movements such as stretches, walking or very gentle resistance exercises, you are ready for active rehabilitation. A major mistake is waiting too long to start active rehabilitation. Many people do not realize how quickly they can lower their pain with participating in exercise therapy. There is a misconception that active rehabilitation is very intense. Patients can start with gentle strength exercises that involve holding poses or using an elastic band as resistance.
One recovery strategy is to overlap passive and active therapies. For example, you may find it beneficial to continue with passive therapy such as massage for the first couple weeks of active rehabilitation. There will come a time to wean yourself off of passive therapy and focus your time on getting active. It’s uplifting when you experience a reduction in pain and improvements in your physical ability!
Use passive therapies to lower your pain so you are in a state to start active rehabilitation as early as possible. Ask your doctor what physical activity is appropriate for the stage of recovery you are in. Even days following the accident, you may be able to start with slow walking and gentle movement. If you continue to be uncomfortable with movement, try aqua therapy which consists of gentle movements in a swimming pool. Water exercises are easier to perform because of the support in the water.
It’s frustrating to have pain on a daily basis from a car accident and not be able to enjoy your normal activities. Passive therapy will help to bring pain levels down but starting active therapy, as early as possible, can lead to a quicker recovery. You can free up time on the calendar again!
Marie Perkins has 17 years experience as a Kinesiologist. She studied Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. She founded Nova Active Rehab, a company that provides active rehabilitation services to people who have been injured in car accidents. She believes it is important to educate people about topics such as ergonomics, posture or pain management techniques that will affect their recovery. In her leisure time, she can be found running in the trails with her husband and children.