Car Crash Doctor

About the Author

Dr. Whelton is a Super Bowl XXXVIII champion physical therapist in Wesley Chapel/New Tampa, FL. He now owns a PT clinic Tampa, FL. As a doctor of physical therapy and owner of Sport and Spine Physical Therapy and Wellness Center in Tampa, he has developed self help videos, sharing his expertise.  Dr. Whelton’s experience also includes working in the NBA, UFC fighters as well as working with our nation’s veterans at the VA hospital.  Working as a physical therapist in Tampa at James A. Haley VA hospital he rehabilitated our nation’s veterans and active duty soldiers home from war.

Car Crashes

Car crashes can be extremely traumatic, emotionally and physically. Emotionally, I often see forms of PTSD. People afraid to drive after a car crash and/or change the way they drive. As a physical therapist in Tampa I see a lot of car crash victims at Sport and Spine Physical Therapy and Wellness Center. I must admit over the years I have treated upwards of a thousand patients whom have been in car crashes. Until I was in a car crash myself, I did not have any idea how much pain and the length of time it takes to heal the pain from that car crash. Although my experience was very painful due to 3 herniated discs with pinched nerves in my neck and lower back requiring surgery, I cannot help but think about how much my car crash has allowed me to better empathize with others, especially my patients that have been involved in a car crash.

The slightest car crash or fender bender can cause immense amount of damage to the human body.  Immediately after a car crash a person does not feel neck pain, back pain or pain anywhere else due to the shock and adrenaline cursing through their body.  By the end of the day the low back pain and neck pain as well as stiffness starts to develop. The next morning a person usually feels an increase in their stiffness, lower back pain, and neck pain, as well as any headache, knee pain, hand pain or any other part of the body that was affected. Usually by the end of the second day if a car crash had a high enough impact a person will start to experience sciatica (pain, numbness or tingling) shooting down the leg or legs.  A neck injury will also cause those same types of symptoms (pain, numbness or tingling) down the arms and may or may not experience pain in the hands.  These symptoms are probably due to a pinched nerve or pinched nerves. I will discuss on a later blog what a pinched nerve is, however, I want to address what a person should do after a car crash.

After the Car Crash

Directly after the car crash look yourself or anyone else in the car over for any blood, did you hit your head? Chest? Knees? As stated above adrenaline starts flowing through your body after a car crash and you probably will not feel head pain, chest pain or pain anywhere else.  Are you short of breath? Do you feel confused? Check to see if you know your name, where you are and what time it is. If you hit your head and lost consciousness you may feel confused.

What Do I Do Now? I can’t believe I was in a car crash!

1)      Call 911 – Don’t try to be a hero, especially us guys! You need to anyways. Hit and runs are not frowned upon, they are illegal!

2)      Wait for the police and possibly the ambulance.

3)      Tell them exactly what happened.

4)      Let them know exactly how you feel – Again no heroes!

5)      Let them decide if you need the ambulance after the car crash.

What NOT to do after a car crash

1)      DO NOT call some lawyer on TV or a lawyer-doctor referral service despite what they say on TV or how catchy that jingle is on the radio. An objective ER doctor always knows more! (I will blog later about how those services really work but if you do not want to get taken advantage of you can email me at and I will guide you to ethical clinicians and lawyers that will care about you).

2) DO NOT say “I am fine; there was no damage so let’s not get the insurance companies involved.”

– If anyone else in that car crash calls the police after or has to go to the ER, you just were involved in a hit and run.  Hit and Runs= Jail.

3) DO NOT listen to the people that may yell at you to pull off to side, they can turn their wheel and navigate around you.

4) DO NOT believe you know more than the EMS on scene. If the EMS says you need to get checked out at the hospital do it, listen to their advice. No heroes remember.

5) If everyone is fine no problems you still need to go to the ER or an Urgent Care Clinic or your doctor, that day.  You must do this for several reasons:

  • A car crash is a trauma to the body, if you have a bleed in your head it can take hours to swell and people die from this.
  • A pinched nerve or pinched nerves are often the result from a herniated disc.  A herniated disc is like slow                                          moving molasses, it usually takes a day or two but it seeps out onto a nerve resulting in a pinched nerve.
  • If you are in pain later that day or night and then seek out medical care, you put yourself at serious risk.  A lawyer will go after the fact you did not seek medical attention directly after the car crash. Lawyers will use this to say you were not hurt from the car crash and you could lose any chance of getting your medical care costs covered.

Hope this was helpful!

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Ryan Whelton, MSPT, DPT

Owner/Doctor of Physical Therapy

Sport and Spine Physical Therapy and Wellness Center


Author: Sport and Spine PT

Ryan Whelton has developed a true breakthrough that often instantly dramatically decreases or eliminates pain, increases range of motion and decreases muscle spasm all in just seconds to minutes. Patients also experience an accelerated healing rate. Education Northeastern University; Doctor of Physical Therapy Northeastern University; M.S. in Physical Therapy Northeastern University; B.S. in Rehabilitation Science Subspecialties Chronic Pain Back and Neck Pain Sports Injuries (including high-level ballerinas, gymnasts, baseball, football, soccer, basketball) TMJ/Jaw Pain Migraine/Tension Headaches Injury Prevention in Adolescents Veterans Hospital (Tampa, FL) Ryan spent almost 3 years rehabilitating our nation's veterans and active duty soldiers returning from war. He had the opportunity to rehab injuries most PTs never see in their career. Rehabilitating soldiers with orthopedic injuries, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injures, soldiers with burns, soldiers who are single and double amputees, chronic pain, cardiac rehabilitation, post surgical patients. Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins (NBA, NHL) Ryan worked alongside their head athletic trainers/physical therapists, at their clinic, and courtside, providing premier care for top athletes. New England Patriots (NFL) As an employee, he provided physical therapy to professional football players training for their upcoming season, at practice, before games, and during the Super Bowl. College Football (Division IA, ACC) The private physical therapist/personal trainer for the leading rusher in the history of Boston College. NFL Draft Trained athletes in New Orleans preparing themselves for grueling workouts and testing of the NFL combine. Ryan also trained athletes in New Orleans preparing for the NFL Draft, rehabilitating their injuries and increasing speed, strength and overall wellness. Radio Co-Host Ryan can be heard on the radio speaking to over a quarter of a million listeners, Saturdays on 860 AM "The Home Team." Due to his extensive experience in professional sports and working with other high level athletes he was asked to co-host the show as the official "Injury and Rehabilitation Expert" by "The Home Team." The show is hosted by arena voice of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Orlando Magic and press box voice of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , Paul Porter. Personal Throughout his life he has not only been the clinician, but the patient. These experiences have given him a unique perspective on how he approaches and treats patients. He is able to better empathize with people who are in pain and/or disability. As a full scholarship collegiate athlete, he learned to juggle the rigors of 7.5 years of physical therapy school, with his athletic obligations, family and friends. This taught him how to create balance in his life while still striving to achieve his goals. Outside of Work When not working, Ryan loves; spending time with his wife, Jill, and son, Cameron. He also enjoys scuba diving, yoga, running, lifting weights, fishing, golfing, skiing, Aikido, yoga, Pilates, mountain biking, dog training and spending time at the beach. Ryan likes to travel and is trying to see as much of the world as he can.

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