Whiplash injuries involve a sudden “jolt” or “whipping” force to your neck and upper back. Ever hear the screeching of tires before the imminent collision of two cars? Automobile collisions or crash is probably the most familiar thought we have when we think about “whiplash”. The person in the vehicle is safely strapped to the seat by the seat belt while their head is not so well restrained but only limited by the head rest. Collisions which involve a sudden stop or change in direction can cause a mild to severe injury to the neck and upper back. Not only is there likely to be injury to the spine but also to the supporting ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves and even to the brain itself. Often times, patients who have been in a car wreck sustain a “whiplash” injury to their neck causing soreness, pain, muscle spasm, loss of range of motion, and generalized stiffness. However, sometimes the injuries are worse than first thought. Over the course of a few days following the accident the patient may begin experiencing new symptoms. These can include headaches, dizziness, loss of sensation, difficulty with balance, blurred or difficulty with vision, trouble with falling to sleep at night, irritability, trouble with focus and concentration, fatigue, and other symptoms.
The same forces that caused injuries to the joints, muscles, and nerves of the spine can also cause damage to the underlying brain, brainstem, and cerebellum. When this happens it is likely that the person also sustained a concussion. Modern science has proven that concussion does not have to involve direct trauma or a “blow to the head” but rather the rapid start and stop of the head can cause the brain to shift violently within the skull. The brain may incur bruising, shearing of axons, and even bleeding. It is important that the person injured is seen as soon as possible for an evaluation of concussion or spinal injury. Not all whiplash injuries are associated with concussion. If the person has any symptoms away from muscle stiffness and guarding, it may well be of benefit to be evaluated for a concussion. Since concussion injuries can be difficult to recognize and manage it is important to be seen by a facility who understand the complex interactions of the nerve system.
Research has shown that even the “whiplash” aspect of the injury can be complex and difficult to resolve. Many patients who have experienced whiplash injury continue to have neck pain and muscle guarding for many years to come.
Identical Symptoms of Whiplash & Concussion (mTBI)
If you or someone know has suffered a whiplash type injury, been involved in a car accident, or hasn’t been themselves since a recent injury, we strongly recommend that you, or them, contact us at the NeuroLife Institute. There we can thoroughly evaluate the extent of any injuries as well as assess the health and well-being of the brain and nerve system. Our unique approach will address your specific needs and tailor a program that is best suited to you.