Most auto accident patients will be seen in the Emergency Department and have a thorough assessment to rule out or detect life threatening injuries. Usually this will include x-rays, lab tests, CT scans, and tests on the heart. After discharge, it is essential to see a physician immediately that specializes in the comprehensive evaluation and treatment of these injuries so that other non-life threatening problems can be detected quickly, before permanent disability results.

Typical evaluation of an auto accident patient should always start with a thorough history and physical examination. The vast majority of injuries can be diagnosed after this exam. If necessary, x-rays can be used to diagnose bone and joint injuries. CT scans are used initially to look for brain injury or internal injuries to the chest or abdomen. Later, MRI is used to diagnose subtle brain injury, spinal disk and nerve injury, or joint injuries involving cartilage or ligaments. Ultrasound examination may be used to assess for arterial or venous injury.

Additional testing is performed during therapy to assess functionality and to monitor progress. This includes range of motion testing for the spine and joints, muscle strength and flexibility testing, and testing of joint stability. An experienced physician will see the patient weekly to monitor progress, detect problems, and order additional tests. Specialized Functional Capacity Testing is performed when decisions need to be made about ability to return to work or to assess if permanent restrictions are present.



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