Over the last three weeks, we covered some of the major dynamics involved in recovery from whiplash accidents. More specifically, we discussed
Every whiplash case is a little different. For example, people who are involved in the same accident, in the same car and involving the same dynamics may have different healing priorities due to their frame, tissues involved and their current lifestyle choices.
In our final week of this series, let’s discuss a three-step process we use to help patients customize their treatment plan.
Step 1: Start with the history
The history is often the most element to take into account. It’s best that patients are seeing us ASAP since the body can be extremely unstable and inflamed. If there are no red flags that require additional studies such as an X-ray or MRI, attempts to heal the body should take place before scar tissue forms around the injured area and makes it more difficult to return the patient to pre-injury status.
Step 2: Determine the body’s healing priorities
In a whiplash accident, there can be a host of factors that are involved with the accident. We do everything we can to help the body heal naturally. Our holistic approach is a model called The Triad of Health that considers structural, chemical and mental imbalances that can affect healing and recovery. Let’s explore this more in regards to whiplash recovery.
On a structural level, a whiplash accident may involve muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascial imbalances. The relationship of the spine, pelvis and the head should also be considered individually and in relationship to each other. Most importantly, the nervous system must be evaluated for spinal misalignments (called Subluxations) which can interfere with healing signals that the brain and body communicate through.
On a biochemical level, nutritional needs should be evaluated and may even change throughout care. Dietary habits may need to change to help the body heal. Supplements like multivitamins, protein powders and others may also be incorporated to decrease inflammation, heal tendons and ligaments and help the muscles relax.
Mentally, the distress from the accident itself may have the body locked up in patterns of tightness causing pain. Unless the emotional components are addressed, the body may stay locked in accident mode and have difficulty accepting serving patterns that can accelerate the healing process.
One of the techniques we incorporate to prioritize and monitor for changes in the body is called Applied Kinesiology. It was founded and developed by a Chiropractor named Dr. George Goodheart. Back in 1964, he discovered an intricate link between muscles and it’s connection to the body. Since his discovery, colleagues from several professions (MDs, acupuncturists, dentists, psychiatrists and others) have used muscle testing as a diagnostic tool to discover healing priorities. We use it regularly to monitor and manage changes in a patient’s care.
Step 3: Customizing a treatment plan
The care plan for a whiplash case should change with the patient’s needs over time. For example, we may start off with structural care but find that the body has nutritional needs required to support the structure. Other times, an emotion-based Chiropractic technique like the Neuro Emotional Technique will be incorporated so the structure can hold. By listening to our patients, and assessing their health patterns, we take a holistic approach and use the muscles as a biofeedback tool to help determine the need for structural, nutritional and emotional support.
It should be noted that although healing can occur quickly, changes rarely occur overnight. Typically, whiplash patients may be seen more often during the initial part of care (2-3 times/week in most cases) and re-evaluations are scheduled to monitor overall progress through care. Health assessments are also used to help the patient and insurance companies know how much progress is being made. Lastly, other health practitioners (ex. Massage therapist, Acupuncturist, Physical Therapist and others) may be incorporated into a person’s health team to help ensure the maximum therapeutic benefit.
We’ve covered a lot of ground over this series of blogs. Whiplash injuries can be complicated and there are a lot of dynamics that need to be managed. We hope this information has helped to shed some light regarding things to look for and the process towards recovery. We also hope you review, comment and ask questions in the sections below. Please share this with those you care about and, as always, schedule a free consultation with our office if you want to explore your health challenges.
Drs. Richard Tran and Michelle Hsu