Whiplash Rehabilitation & Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVA)

South Edmonton's Choice for Whiplash Therapy

The most common injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident (car accident) is "whiplash".

Symptoms of a whiplash injury often include generalized stiffness and soreness as well as headaches.

In Alberta, regardless of who is at fault for the accident, or if you were the driver or passenger, you are entitled to care for the injuries you sustained.

  • What is whiplash, exactly? 

Whiplash is a sudden hyperextension followed by a rapid "hyperflexion" injury to the head and neck. This causes excessive pushing and pulling forces on the body’s soft tissue. Motor vehicle accidents routinely result in whiplash as well as other sprains/strains to different parts of the body.

Collectively, whiplash-associated disorders (WADs) refer to soft tissue and/or bone injuries sustained as a result of rapid acceleration and deceleration forces to the neck. Other areas of the body can (and routinely are) affected by a WAD injury.

The severity/type of WAD injury is determined based on the physical findings at the time of assessment. WAD injuries are classified on a four point scale, based on the degree of symptoms, loss of range of motion, and the presence of neurological signs and/or fractures.

Motor Vehicle Accident & Whiplash Rehab in Edmonton

At REP Physio, we follow best practice guidelines for the management of WAD injuries. This typically includes education about expectations for recovery, therapeutic exercise to restore range of motion and strength as well as manual therapy. An active care approach that encourages a return to pre-accident level work and recreational activities as soon as safely possible is recommended for all individuals that have sustained a WAD injury. 

  • The use of a soft neck collar, as well as passive approaches to care are generally not recommended to aid in a timely recovery.

Our experienced therapists will guide you through the recovery process from a WAD injury so you feel empowered to move, perform and live better. Edmonton physiotherapy is just one part of the rehabilitation process for whiplash-associated disorders – our experts will ensure you have a clear understanding of your injury and what steps you can take to mitigate pain and stress in the future.

Were you injured in a motor vehicle accident in Edmonton?

Call us today at either of our locations.

Testimonial: ERIN O.

The staff at REP Physio Westbrook is amazing!  Physiotherapist Lindsay Thompson took care of my neck and upper back after I developed whiplash from a motor vehicle accident. Lindsay educated me about what was going on with my body, helped me heal from the injury and encouraged me stay active while being treated. A combination of physiotherapy and massage with Andrew Miller have me feeling better than ever.

I can’t thank REP Physio enough!

Whiplash Injury FAQ

Whiplash Basics

What are the symptoms of whiplash / WAD?

Whiplash symptoms typically include:

  • neck pain/soreness and or stiffness, headaches, typically at the base of the skull, loss of range of motion in the neck, tenderness to the touch in the neck, shoulders and other areas, difficulty sleeping due to pain, fatigue
  • Fortunately, most car accidents result in soft tissue injuries only. Only a minor amount result in broken bones and/or serious medical complication

When should someone get checked out?

People involved in a whiplash injury should get checked out by a physiotherapist (or primary health care provider) as soon as possible.

How long does recovery usually take?

Typically, recovery from a whiplash injury takes 6-12 weeks (90 days). However some people can expect to be symptomatic beyond this period

Recovery is not linear.  

Symptoms typically fluctuate with people have good and bad days.

It is important for individuals in a whiplash injury to try to resume "activities as normal" as much as possible.  While it might hurt at first, it is unlikely to cause harm.

Motor Vehicle Accident & Whiplash Insurance

What do I do when I get into a car accident?

As per the Alberta Government guidelines following an MVA, the best steps are:

  1. See a Primary Healthcare Practitioner. This would include either a Physiotherapist, Medical Doctor, or Chiropractor as soon as possible for an assessment for your injury. Generally, this is something that should be done within the first few days following the accident. Regardless of who is at fault in Alberta, you are eligible for rehabilitation services. You may also choose the provider of your choice for your treatment. You do not have to see the provider recommended by your car insurance company.

  2. File a collision report with the police.

  3. Complete an AB-1: Notice of Loss and Proof of Claim Form, which can either be sent to your insurance company, or your practitioner can send in your completed copy.

  4. Based on your practitioner’s diagnosis and the reports to the insurance company, you will be notified regarding your recommended treatment plan and subsequent benefits.

What is the process for therapy and rehabilitation?

Every case is unique. Edmonton sees many cases of whiplash and neck injuries from motor vehicle accidents each year, and our expert staff know how to build a custom rehabilitation and recovery program tailor made for you.

At REP Physio, our physical therapists are specialists in assessment and treatment of musculo-skeletal injuries, including those caused during your MVA. We will perform a thorough assessment of your injuries, and walk you through what to expect moving forward. This includes education of your ongoing diagnosis, prognosis, management of symptoms and planning for return to pre-accident level of function. If needed, we will also guide you to the services of other healthcare practitioners if they would be valuable to your recovery such massage or psychological services. We provide education regarding use of modalities (ice, heat, TENS,) for symptom management, and strategies for activity modifications during the stages of recovery. We utilize evidence-based treatment to guide our treatment programs, including therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, and IMS (dry needling). Ultimately, we will utilize our expertise based on current treatment guidelines, and tailor it to meeting your treatment goals.

What type of benefits am I entitled to after my injury?

In Alberta following a diagnosis from a Primary Healthcare Practitioner, you will be eligible to receive approximately 10-21 treatments depending on the severity of your injury.  This is known as the “in protocol” period.  During this period, you are entitled to care for a 90 day period from the date of your accident, or until you exhaust your allotted treatments. Treatments can include physiotherapy, massage therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic care.  There is also the option to access dental care and psychological services if necessary.

If you are diagnosed as “out of protocol” (more serious injuries, including fractures etc.) your therapist can guide you through the process. In this instance, your car insurance company becomes the secondary payor, while your extended health care insurance company becomes the primary payor. 

What if I’m still symptomatic by the time my “in protocol” treatments are over?

If medically necessary, you are permitted to access treatment for up to two years from the date of your accident. Following your “in protocol” treatment, you will be re-assessed, and your ongoing treatment plan will be recommended by your healthcare practitioner. There are some limits on the amount of massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care that you can access during this period.  There are no limits for physiotherapy

Do I need to go to the clinic my insurance company recommended?

The simple answer is "no" – Alberta’s Auto Insurance Regulations state that you are free to choose your care provider.

In fact, we are proud not to be the preferred provider of any insurance company, to ensure there is never any conflict of interest. We are here for you.

How do I begin setting up appointments to start rehabilitation?

You can easily contact us at either of our Edmonton locations (Westbrook or Summerside) and our clinic staff will work with you to find a day and time that works with your schedule. We understand that you want to address your motor vehicle accident injury quickly, so we provide hours as early as 6am and as late as 8pm, depending on the day.

Ready to discuss your whiplash rehab needs after a motor vehicle accident in Edmonton? 

Fill out our contact form or call us today.

Have questions or you'd like to book an appointment right now? Please call your preferred location and we'd be happy to help!

Westbrook Location

Summerside Location

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Post-COVID rehab is available at REP Physio