Posture Assessment

Woman hunched over her computer desk. New Heights talks about how to improve your posture with posture assessment in the Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA areas.

If you suffer from back pain, you aren’t the only one. About 80% of American adults deal with lower back pain at some point in their lives according to researchers at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Poor posture is a contributing factor, so read more about how you can keep up with improving your posture.

The Importance of Good Posture

Before we talk about the benefits of a posture assessment, we will first briefly mention the importance of correct posture.

When you maintain good posture, your bones, ligaments, and muscles are comfortable and not over-stretched. Maintaining good posture has many health benefits including:

  • Greater stability, which helps prevent falls and injuries
  • Maintaining correct form when exercising, which translates to fewer injuries
  • Preventing headaches & neck pain

Why is Postural Assessment Important?

When your body maintains proper posture, weight is distributed evenly and pain-free. Your body just performs at its best. If something in your body is out of alignment you’re more prone to pain and injuries.

When it comes to posture, you can’t fix what you aren’t aware of. Having a postural assessment can help uncover any postural deviations so they can be appropriately treated, thus helping you treat any chronic pain you’ve been suffering.

How Posture Assessment Works

When you have a posture assessment, therapists will look at your overall alignment. We may look at:

  • Hips: Are they symmetrical? Are they in internal or external rotation?
  • Head and neck position
  • Knees: Are they hyperextended?
  • Pelvis: Is it in the posterior or anterior position?
  • Shoulders: Are they symmetrical? Are they internally rotated?
  • Spine: is scoliosis present?

We will also test your range of movement and perform other tests to see if you are making any compensations, or have areas that are stiff or weak.

For example, if a patient has suffered an injury on their left ankle, a postural assessment will reveal their walk has been altered to compensate for any discomfort.

How Can I Check My Posture?

You can perform a simple posture assessment in the comfort of your home with the help of a full-length mirror. Stand against a wall and envision an imaginary straight line running from the center of your body, from your head to the floor. Then ask yourself these questions.

  • Are your shoulders level?
  • Are your knees pointing straight out or in different directions
  • Is your body weight evenly balanced, or are you putting more weight on one side?
  • Is your head centered over your breastbone?
  • How much space is between your back and the wall?
  • Is one side of your waist sitting higher than the other?
  • Stand on one leg; did you wobble to one side?

Continually performing these self-assessments will help your body heal and perform optimally. You have to teach your body how to position itself.

Work with Physical Therapists to Improve Your Posture

The body remembers bad form. If you need help improving your posture a physical therapist can help. The physical therapists at New Heights offer a variety of rehabilitation and treatments and they will also help you improve your posture. Contact New Heights today, we have two convenient locations to help with your physical needs.

The Importance of Rest and Recovery

New Heights Physical Therapy gives advice on why recovery is important in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

We so often hear about the health benefits of exercise, but another important part of any exercise program, and for life in general, is recovery. For some it’s one of the hardest things to do but taking time to rest can help prevent an injury and create a healthier body.

What is Recovery?

Recovery in exercise is taking a day or two off to allow your muscles to repair themselves for your next exercise. It also engages muscles that are sore from your previous workouts. Weightlifting, sprinting and endurance runs stress your body so it needs to adapt to these stresses. When you don’t let your body rest as much as it should, you can end up with an injury. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests people take a rest day at least one to two times per week.

Ways to Recover

  • Sleep: The most important part of recovery is sleep! Your body needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep everyday for chemical, hormone and anti-inflammatory responses to happen. Sleep is also very important for your immune system. If you don’t get quality sleep, you may be at a higher risk of getting sick.
  • Staying hydrated: Water plays a vital role in the recovery process. Water helps nutrients repair muscles damaged during exercise, aids in digestion and reduces fatigue. Here’s a fun fact: muscles are actually made up of 75% water.
  • Stretch: After a tough workout, consider stretching. This simple and fast method can help your muscles recover quicker.
  • Massage: Massages not only feel great, they improve circulation allowing you to fully relax. You can self-massage or use a foam roller on tight muscles.
  • Take an ice bath: Some athletes swear by these. An ice bath causes your blood vessels to constrict pushing the blood away from your muscles. Then once your out and your body warms up, the vessels open up and blood flows back into the muscle, bringing more oxygen to help you recover.

Taking time to give your body a rest can be challenging mentally, but it has significant benefits including preventing injuries. The most important thing you can do to recover quickly is listen to your body. At New Heights Physical Therapy, you can get the help and advice that you need to recover especially after an injury. Call us today to schedule an appointment!

Exercise to Recover from Concussions

Exercise to Recover from Concussions - New Heights Physical Therapy - Portland OR

If you have suffered from a concussion, you know the immediate effects it can have on your ability to function physically, cognitively, and behaviorally. Concussions are traumatic brain injuries caused by direct force or a blow to the head that severely rattles the brain. It has been estimated that more than two million people suffer from concussions in the United States each year. If you have or think you have a concussion, it’s urgent to seek immediate help from a medical professional. At New Heights Physical Therapy, we take concussions very seriously and encourage all patients to consult their doctor before we can help you recover.

What Causes Concussions?

Concussions can occur during rapid movement changes or, most commonly, when there is a direct blow to the head. Because the brain is affected by this, there is immediate or delayed changes in the brain’s chemistry and function. There are a number of incidents that are known to cause concussions:

  • Motor vehicle accidents or collisions
  • Sports-related injuries to the head or neck
  • Falling or tripping (the leading cause)
  • Accidents at hard-labor jobs
  • Violent assault or abuse

Signs of a Concussion

Because concussions can cause long-term damage, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion and seek professional help immediately. It’s also essential to note that symptoms can show immediately or even months after the incident. A few of the symptoms of a concussion include:

  1. Physical symptoms: Nausea/vomiting, difficulty balancing, headache, difficulty sleeping or increased sleepiness, blurred vision, exercise intolerance, sensitivity to light and sound, slurred speech, dazed and confused staring, etc.
  2. Emotional symptoms: Irritability, anxiety or depression, aggression, restlessness, inability to handle stress, mood swings, or a noticeable change in personality or behavior.
  3. Cognitive symptoms: Worsened long-term or short-term memory, confusion, difficulty concentrating/focusing, slower processing, difficulty with decision-making, etc.
  4. Long-term symptoms: Fatigue, weight gain, muscle weakness, chronic headaches, loss of libido, developmental problems in children, low blood pressure, etc.

If you are experiencing any number of these symptoms, you need to contact a medical professional. If symptoms are ignored, the problem can become worse and lead to long-term brain defects.

How Can Exercise Help Treat Concussions?

At New Heights Physical Therapy, we know how distressing a concussion is and are dedicated to helping our patients recover from their traumatic injury. Because we are specialists in sports medicine, we are accustomed to treating athletes that have suffered a sports-related concussion (SRC). No two concussions are the same and we will work hard with you to determine the best course of treatment. There is extensive data suggesting that exercise, especially aerobic exercise, may help patients recovering from a concussion. Some of the ways physical therapy may help treat concussion include:

  • Determining the appropriate amount of time to rest and recover before treatment.
  • Restoring strength and endurance through closely monitored exercises, and overcoming exercise intolerance.
  • Improving balance and confidence through specific monitored exercises.
  • Improving headaches and pain through stretching and strengthening exercises.
  • Helping patients return to normal activity or sport through renewed confidence in endurance and strength.

Professional Physical Therapy for Concussion

Rest and monitored physical exercise or activity can help patients recover from a concussion. We know the trauma and life-altering changes a concussion can bring, and are dedicated to helping those who are suffering from the symptoms. If you are interested in learning more about how exercise and physical therapy can help treat the effects of a concussion, give the professionals at New Heights Physical Therapy a call today to set up a consultation today!

At-Home Exercises

New Heights Physical Therapy provides excellent advice on at-home physical therapy exercises in Vancouver WA and Portland OR.

At-Home Exercises

Home exercise is important for anyone, but it’s especially helpful for individuals who are recovering from surgery or an illness that has limited their movements. Physical therapy is often recommended for many of these recovery periods, and a physical therapist can also give patients a list of easy exercises that they can do in the convenience of their own homes.

Home Exercises for the Knees

Because so much of the body’s weight is placed on the knees, they are often susceptible to strains and sprains. Once a physical therapist approves, there are several good exercises to try at home.

  • Straight leg raises can be done while lying on the back. These strengthen the quadriceps, thus giving more strength to the knee.
  • Hamstring curls are done while lying on the stomach or while standing by lifting a bent leg with flexed foot as close to the buttocks as possible.
  • Calf raises can be done while standing on the toes on a raised surface with the heels hanging over the edge.

Home Exercises for the Back

Millions of Americans struggle with chronic back pain either in the upper or lower back. Twisting exercises can be particularly good for increasing mobility and decreasing pain.

  • A standing side stretch is easily done with the hands clasped straight overhead. A stretch should be done along each side of the body.
  • A seated back twist is done by sitting up straight with one leg straight in front of the body and the other leg bent with the foot on the opposite side of the body. While pressing into the bent knee, twist the upper body and neck to the other side.

Home Exercises for the Neck

The neck is attached to the top of the spine and often experiences pain due to poor posture, frequent forward head tilting, and even stress. Neck stretches can be easily done while sitting or standing.

  • A side-to-side neck stretch can be easily done by pressing the fingers gently into one side of the head, while lowering the other ear to the shoulder.
  • A deep forward bend with hanging head not only relieves lower back tension, but also allows the cervical spine in the neck to elongate and relax.

Professional At-Home Exercise Guidance

The best place to learn proper mechanics for these and other at-home exercises is in the physical therapist’s office. A therapist will be able to help individuals make simple adjustments, to make the exercises more effective and safer on the body. Plus, a therapist can recommend specific exercises and props to control discomfort and improve body functionality. If you think you could benefit from at-home exercises, call New Heights Therapy today! Our staff of therapists would be more than happy to work with you and discover the best exercises for your body.

Recovery for Post Breast Cancer Surgery

New Heights Physical Therapy provides excellent support and recovery for post breast cancer surgery in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

Recovery for Post Breast Cancer Surgery

Breast cancer can be treated in several ways. Surgery is often part of the picture to enable the oncologist to get rid of all of the cancer. The surgeon may remove the entire breast, which is known as a mastectomy, or they may only remove part of the breast. While this is often a life-saving treatment, it can result in some unwanted side effects, such as lymphedema.

What Is Lymphedema?

At its most basic, lymphedema is a swelling of the lymph nodes. In the post breast cancer surgery recovery time, it may occur in the lymph nodes of the arm, chest, breast or hands. It may occur for only a brief period, or it may continue for years following the treatment.

Lymphedema happens gradually as the lymphatic fluid can no longer drain as it once did. This happens because some of the lymph nodes around the breasts or armpits have been removed as part of the surgery to prevent or treat the spread of cancer. The symptoms of lymphedema may include the following:

  • Numbness and tingling
  • Aching
  • Difficulty moving the arm
  • Swelling in the arm, chest, hand or armpit
  • Inflexibility
  • Tight skin

How Does Lymphedema Limit Arm Movement?

When the shoulder and underarm area is stiff or sore, it can be difficult to move the arm. The shoulder joint is a special type of ball-and-socket joint that is designed to move in all directions. However, individuals with lymphedema here may find that they cannot lift the arm above the height of the shoulder, or that they cannot swing it as far to the front or the back as they once could.

How Can Physical Therapy Help with Post Breast Cancer Surgery?

Physical therapy has proven helpful in many cases of lymphedema. During recovery from post breast cancer surgery to improve range of motion in the joint, thus reducing stiffness and weakness. New research from early 2018 shows that even one session can improve arm movement. Plus, it was shown that an individualized physical therapy program can further improvement movement.

A physical therapist can help individuals know what exercises are safe after surgery, and can help patients move past the post-surgical discomfort to discover full range of motion. Therapy can also decrease fatigue and improve one’s overall quality of life.

Professional Therapy For Post Breast Surgery Recovery

Research continues to show the amazing benefits of physical therapy for improving body dynamics. In particular, it can help dramatically in those who have undergone surgery for breast cancer, helping them feel more like themselves once again. By being able to return to their normal ways of life quickly, patients can feel empowered to live healthfully and happily despite their prior diagnoses. If you think you could benefit from physical therapy, call New Heights Therapy today! Our staff of therapists would be more than happy to work with you, helping you recover from breast cancer surgery.

Physical Therapy for Lower Back Pain and Sciatica

Physical Therapy for Lower Back Pain & Sciatica. New Heights Physical Therapy in Vancouver WA and Portland OR

The chronic pain caused by sciatica and lower back problems can cause long periods of inactivity, which only serve to worsen the symptoms over time. Continual back pain and symptoms of Sciatica can be debilitating, but luckily, there are chronic back pain and sciatica treatment options to help improve the pain.

Almost every activity involves some use or movement of muscles in the back. Merely getting out of bed can cause a flare-up of chronic pain. Continuous, unrelenting bouts of pain make getting around difficult and working nearly impossible. It is one of the more debilitating problems large numbers of people deal with daily. No matter what the cause, when your back hurts, it negatively affects every area of your life.

Physical therapy treatment is available to help get the pain under control and reduce the symptoms felt. Continuous treatment increases mobility, resulting in a much better quality of life. Treatment can include

  • Stretching and light aerobic exercise
  • Heat and cold packs for pain reduction
  • Spinal flexibility increasing routines
  • Modified activities planning, and more

Not only will these treatment options lessen your back pain, they will work to prevent pain from reoccurring. To further recovery from sciatica and lower back pain, physical therapy can teach you about improved lifestyle habits so that you will no longer be held back by your condition.

Contact the PT specialists at New Heights Therapy to find out more about lower back pain and sciatica treatment today! Be sure and sign up for one of our upcoming workshops available in both Portland OR and Vancouver WA. The workshops are completely free and offer helpful information on how to live a life free of chronic pain.

Welcome: A Place to Heal

By: Gema Sanchez, PT

It is written on entry mats all over the world. Welcome. You cross the threshold believing you are wanted there, that those who reside there do not mean you harm. That you are safe. But as many of us have experienced, it can be a false invitation when the welcome mat on the threshold is only for some, not all. This is the reality for many people in many places around the world who live where they are not welcome. They live in a stressful environment of hostility and fear, without refuge, always on guard. Even in their own communities.

The effect of stress on our lives and well-being has been the topic of many recent studies. Time and again, the researchers find that when we are stressed, we do not heal as well. When we are in a state of “fight or flight”, the resources of the body are reallocated to survival, and things like healing and digestion are put on the back burner. We flee, we survive, we live to fight another day and we hole up and lick our wounds. Only when we find our safe hidey hole does our body chemistry change and resources are reallocated to healing, our “rest and digest” state. Even now, when we are not running from predators who will kill us or constantly worrying about where our next meal will come from, our body biochemistry responds to stress in the same way as our ancient ancestors.

There are certain requirements for healing. We must be in the right biochemical state, to allow the allocation of resources to go to healing instead of survival. We must have the basic building blocks of cell regeneration that we get from our diet and environment such as vitamins, minerals, protein and fat. We need the steady, low level exercise that our ancestors had, walking and foraging all day, to keep our systems healthy and our brain biochemistry balanced. And we need rest and sleep, because it is during restful sleep that we repair and rebuild the damage done on any given day. But in order to rest, we must feel safe.

Which brings us back to welcome. Feeling safe, finding our hidey hole to heal. We recently put a sign in our front window. We welcome you. For centuries, there have been places of healing which are safe havens, neutral zones where the only time you are not welcome, is when you do not welcome others. Places where you can catch your breath and do not have to watch your back, because all agree to abide by the rules of that space and maintain the space as sacred, a place of healing. A place where all the descriptors do not matter, you are injured and this is a place to heal; that is all that matters. For those of us who reside here, who spent our days in the complicated and difficult task of healing, it means that we create a culture of welcome. We check our prejudices at the door, we view all humans as worthy and we create the safe space for healing to occur. We expect the same from those who come here, that they respect the space of healing for all. But we are always learning, and we need those who come here to help us learn and understand what is takes to heal, what it means to be truly welcome, how to embrace and welcome all, and what it takes to create a healing space. At a time and in a place where prejudice is condoned, where violence is accepted and where fear is commonplace, we have chosen to be a neutral zone, a safe haven, a place for healing. Welcome.

Pillow Talk: The Importance of Sleep Posture

Choosing the Right Pillow. New Heights Physical Therapy in Vancouver WA and Portland OR.

By: Gema Sanchez, PT

Having the right pillow can make all the difference in getting a good night’s sleep, especially if you have head or neck pain. The purpose of a pillow is to support to your head and neck in good posture as you sleep. Which pillow fits you best depends on two factors: the side/shape of your body and what position you sleep in.

Neutral Position

The first step to choosing the perfect pillow is understanding what position your head and neck should be in. Whether you are sitting, standing or laying down, the optimal head position is neutral. In neutral, your head is positioned centered on your body facing forward, not tipped or rotated in any direction. This position optimizes spinal alignment and minimizes stress on the muscles, ligaments and tendons. When you are laying down, the pillow should be supporting your head so that it can rest in a neutral position.

One good way to see what position your head is in when you are sleeping is to have someone sit at the side of your bed and take pictures of you laying down with your pillow.  Look at the pictures and analyze the position of your head in relationship to your body. Is is positioned in neutral? When you are laying on your side, the pillow needs to fill the space between the bed and your head. If the pillow is too thin, your head will be tipped down toward the bed and if it is too thick your head will be tipped up toward the ceiling. When laying on your back, the pillow needs to fill the space between the bed and the back of your head. If the pillow is too thin, your head will be tipped back toward the bed and if it is too thick your head will be tipped up toward your chest. Also, look at the curve of your neck. Your pillow should be completely filling that space and supporting your neck.

Pillow Types

A good pillow is made of something that is both flexible and resilient. You need to be able to form it to the curve of your neck to support it but it still has to be solid enough to support the weight of your head. Feather pillows or synthetic pillows with similar qualities to feathers do this very well. They are also easy to reshape as you change sleeping position.

Memory foam pillows do a good job of supporting the head when you are laying on your back, but are often too firm to cradle and support the neck well. You can’t fold them to adjust the thickness, so they are usually not thick enough to provide good support when you are laying on your side.

Some pillows are shaped specifically for back or side sleepers. But they are not one size fits all. The curved part of the pillow meant to support your neck is not adjustable, so for many people, they are either too large or too small. Also, very few people stay in one position when they are sleeping. So, for instance, if you are using a pillow designed for a side sleeper and you roll onto your back, the pillow cannot adjust to your new position and will not give you the support you need.

The Pillow Test 

Pillows wear out over time, so if your pillow is older, check to see if it still has enough loft to do it’s job. Try this test: fold the pillow in half and release it. It should bounce back to it’s original shape. If it doesn’t, it is no longer able to loft up and provide you with enough support. Replace it.

Stomach Sleepers

What about sleeping on your stomach? If you have neck pain, you have likely been told that you should not sleep on your stomach. Applying what we now know about head posture, you can see that the reason for this is that in order to breathe while you are sleeping on your stomach you have to position your head rotated to the extreme right or left. This position is very stressful on the neck.  If you can train yourself to avoid sleeping in this position, do. But changing your preferred sleeping position can be very difficult and you may find yourself rolling onto your stomach in your sleep. In order to protect your neck while laying on your stomach you need to position your head as close to neutral as possible while still allowing room to breathe. One way to do this is by resting your forehead on the edge of the pillow. This allows your head to stay in neutral while providing room to breathe. Another is to ditch the pillow altogether and rest your head in the crook of your elbow. This allows you to breathe with your head positioned only slightly in rotation.

Here’s to perfect pillows and a good night’s sleep!

Flourishing During the Holidays

By: Gema Sanchez, PT

Fall and winter are upon us, bringing with them our most active and intense season of holidays and celebrations. The short days and long nights of winter are mother nature’s rest period after the long days of spring and summer. We, like the plants and animals, are meant to use the dark and cold to rest and rejuvenate in preparation for warming in the spring. But, humans are social creatures, and the long dark days are also the perfect time to spend intimate time with our loved ones and enjoy the stored abundance from our summer gardens. So, how do we handle this flurry of activity and responsibility at the very time when our minds and bodies are ready for rest?  Stress management. Recognize and nurture your stress management techniques and you will emerge from the holiday season joyful and at peace. Taking good care of yourself is the key. Here are some tips:

  1. Rest. Aim to keep rest and activity in balance, too much of either won’t serve you. You will be tempted to skip sleep, but don’t. Invest in this and everything will be easier. Make rest and sleep a priority and schedule it in as just as important as all the other things you are trying to accomplish. If you are rested and alert, you will be able to move through the season peaceful and focused. And don’t forget to rest your mind. This is the time when those mundane tasks like washing dishes and folding laundry can give you the microbreaks your mind needs to function well. Try practicing mindful meditation whenever you are performing these tasks. Clear your mind and focus only on the task at hand. When you are washing the dishes, be aware of the soap and the water and the fork in your hand. When your mind wanders, just gently bring it back to the task. Try to let go of the endless to do list and let your mind go blank. You will emerge with more energy and clearer thinking.


  1. Eat well. Yes, we all love the richness and decadence of holiday food, and by all means indulge! But the remainder of the time, use food to nurture and nourish your body. Make a simple, healthy pot of soup to eat during the week. Pile up on the abundance of healthy winter veggies and citrus fruits. Drink lots of water and healing teas. Think of it as your training and rest period prepping you for the marathon of delicious decadent food and alcoholic libations of the season. This goes beyond the holiday parties and dinners; how to manage that ever present barrage of temptation in the lunch room at work? Try this tip: make a small plate of all the tempting goodies in the kitchen and bring it to your desk. Go ahead, pick all you favorites. Snack from this plate instead of the plates in the kitchen, you’ll be less tempted to overeat and still get to sample all the fun!


  1. Be realistic. Don’t overextend yourself. Aim for quality, not quantity. Prioritize. You have a lot to do normally, and now in addition to your normal work and household chores and responsibilities, your events calendar ramps up. You have guests or you are traveling, managing children during the holiday breaks and hosting or attending parties. This is not the time to schedule you annual dental and eye appointments. Clear your schedule and make room. Have lunch with your friend in January, not on the day you are picking your parents up from the airport. Take a moment to really look at your invitations, and balance those that you need to attend with those that you want to attend. You don’t have to attend them all. Allow yourself to leave early if you are not enjoying yourself and stay late if you are.


  1. Accept help when it is offered and ask for help when you need it. If you are hosting parties and guests, and someone offers to help, say yes! Cooking prep is so much more fun when you have help and companionship. Let your guests help set and clear the table and do the dishes. If you are finally off your feet and resting and someone offers to fill your glass, let them! Set food up as self-serve whenever you can. Rely on your loved ones. Make holiday meals potluck or at least ask for help with food prep. If you are a guest, help in any small way you can like making your bed, tidying up after yourself and entertaining the kids. If you don’t have plans during the holidays, reach out and offer to help. Your help can be a welcome gift to those who have too much to do. Many hands make light work.


  1. Exercise. You knew this was coming, right? I know, this is when you least feel like you can spare the time, but do. Like sleeping and eating well, keeping your mind and body healthy using exercise is critical to your enjoyment of the season. If you don’t have time to work out as much as you want to, do an abbreviated version of your workout. Maybe attend your class 1x/week instead of 3. Take a twenty minute walk instead of your usual forty five minutes. If one of your houseguests likes to be active, take them on a walk with you and enjoy the conversation. If you are visiting, offer to take on some of the “to do” list so your host can go for their run. Dance while you’re doing the cleaning. Take the dog to the park. And if you don’t have holiday plans, resist the urge to binge and oversleep. Care for yourself especially well and get some form of exercise every day.





Understanding New Oregon Auto Insurance Laws

Did you know there were changes made to your auto insurance at the beginning of 2016? If not, it’s good information to know just in case you ever get into an accident.

There are two main changes to Oregon’s auto insurance policies:

  1. The first is pure stacking of policies. This means that in case of an accident, you could now recover both the at-fault driver’s liability limit and the full coverage you paid for.
  2. Another change is to your Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP is now extended to two years instead of one and can be used until time or money has run out. PIP medical bills have are now presumed reasonable unless denied 60 days or less after the insurer receives the notice of claim for bills.

Here are some other frequently asked questions that you may want to be aware of.

Should I consent to an independent medical exam?

Some MVA insurances require that you get an independent medical exam (IME). If you refuse an IME you could be cut off from your benefits. It also makes it more difficult for a lawyer to fight the report (should it be false) when the initial IME is refused. It’s recommended that you get the IME and later on, when you see a provider for treatment, if they see something that is incorrect it is easier to fight the report.

Who decides how much damage was done?

Agreement of damages is an agreement between you and the insurance company. You may want to consult an attorney after your accident. If an agreement can’t be made about what the damages are, it then goes through litigation.

What about bike or pedestrian accidents?

If you (as a biker or pedestrian) are in an accident with an automobile, your health insurance becomes the primary source of insurance, not the MVA. If you don’t have health insurance, PIP from the driver carries over to you.

What else should I know about PIP?

Oregon has “no fault” PIP coverage, meaning it is available to you whether or not the accident was your fault. Your insurance company will go after the other insurance company if the accident was not your fault. Your MVA insurance company won’t hold this against you.

When your PIP expires your options are to go through your health insurance, pay out of pocket or to work with an attorney and have a Letter of Protection sent to your medical professional. A Letter of Protection is an document that informs the health care provider that their bill will be paid from any settlements. If the case is lost the balance will be your responsibility.

Are these policies automatically in place?

Changes only apply to policies which are issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2016. You should contact your insurance agent and tell them you would like your insurance to change the effective date to such (January 2nd). That way you are covered under the new law if you get into an accident. Otherwise your coverage will change on the renewal date of your insurance policy.

It is recommended that you ask them for a letter that you are covered under the new law. Expect an increase in car insurance (hopefully not more than 4%).

The minimum PIP limit is $15,000. However, it is recommended that you increase your coverage to a minimum of $50.000 or more. It is also a good idea to have an umbrella that includes uninsured motorists. Consider talking to a lawyer right after an accident, before you talk to the adjustors. Many lawyers offer a free consultation.

And come see a PT. You don’t need a referral from a doctor to have physical therapy. Many people experience pain after an accident. Whether it’s a headache, neck or back pain, physical therapists can often help reduce the pain and regain the body function.

For more information on What to Do After A Traffic Accident, visit Sheldon Aaronson’s website.