Can Whiplash Cause Brain Injuries?

It has been known for a long time that whiplash causes neck strains and can also cause spinal injuries. But in recent decades, studies have indicated and link between whiplash and traumatic brain injuries. Brain injuries can occur even without direct head trauma, and this is particularly true with high impact collisions, such as those that cause whiplash injuries.

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is any impact or blow that causes the head to be thrown or jerked forward or backwards, similarly to the motion of cracking a whip. The sudden force of the blow causes the muscles and tendons in the neck to be stretched and torn. Whiplash is often associated with car accidents, but it can happen to anyone who experiences this type of impact or blow to the head. 

For example, athletes who play contact sports such as football and hockey have been known to sustain whiplash injuries from high-impact collisions with those they are playing against. This type of injury can also happen when someone is rapidly thrown to the ground, such as falling off a horse while horseback riding.

Those who suffer from whiplash can experience a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Neck pain;
  • Stiffness or tightness in the neck;
  • Decreased range of motion in the neck area;
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms;
  • Headaches that start at the back of the skull and radiate forward.

Whiplash and Brain Injuries

As mentioned earlier, brain injuries can occur with or without a direct blow to the head. These types of injuries are possible with whiplash when the back and forth “whip-like” motion causes the brain to become twisted, compressed, or distorted within the skull.

According to the BC Medical Journal, the likelihood of brain damage from whiplash depends mainly on “the magnitude of acceleration-deceleration forces and the rotation forces acting upon the skull”. They go on to say, “the most important indicator of possible brain damage is the severity of the trauma. Minor trauma is an unlikely candidate.” In other words, the higher the impact and the more rapid and forceful the jolt is that causes the whiplash injury, the greater the likelihood that it could result in a brain injury.

Those who sustain a concurrent brain injury caused by a whiplash may experience several symptoms in addition to those mentioned earlier:

  • Dizziness;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Ringing in the ears;
  • Problems with focus and concentration;
  • Problems sleeping;
  • Agitation and irritability;
  • Difficulty processing information;
  • Memory problems;
  • Anxiety;
  • Depression.

Symptoms not Always Immediately Known

Since traumatic brain injuries involve a complicated series of events, symptoms of TBI are not always immediately known. This can create confusion when someone suffers a whiplash injury after an auto accident or another type of traumatic event. For example, a car accident victim may be rushed to the emergency room right away and be diagnosed with severe neck strains and other soft tissue injuries associated with whiplash, but the doctor may not notice any immediate signs of TBI.

For this reason, it is very important, especially for those who are involved in higher impact collisions, to monitor themselves for any symptoms that are delayed and may show up a few days (or longer) after the accident. If additional symptoms do surface that might be signs of a concussion or another type of traumatic brain injury, go back in to see a medical professional for another evaluation. The sooner brain injuries are diagnosed, this sooner correct treatment can be applied, and the better the chances of making a full recovery.

Suffered a Whiplash Injury in South Carolina? Call the Experienced Skilled Auto Accident Attorneys at Peake and Fowler Today

If you or someone close to has suffered a whiplash injury, get medical help right away, and go back in for another examination if any additional signs and symptoms show up later on. Once you have received proper medical treatment, be sure to get in touch with an experienced personal injury lawyer, so you can be advised of your rights and legal options. 

If the injury occurred in South Carolina, contact Peake and Fowler to schedule a free consultation and case assessment. Call our office at today at 803-788-4370. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Columbia, SC office in person at your convenience.

Swedish Study Looks at What Types of Accidents Result in Serious or Longer-Lasting Whiplash Effects

Neck Pain after Auto AccidentRear-end accidents are one of the most common types of accident occurring in and around Columbia, South Carolina. When whiplash results from a rear-end crash, the symptoms may last as briefly as a week, or as long as several months. The severity of a whiplash injury and the length of time that the symptoms last can vary from person to person. One study sought to determine what factors in a crash cause these results for car occupants, and did so by using information from the event data recorders located in the victims’ cars.

Research on why and how individuals are injured in car accidents can be difficult to conduct accurately. While estimating the physical forces and speed of cars involved in a crash after the fact does not provide perfectly accurate results, a controlled experiment in the laboratory using test dummies also fails to provide a perfect representation of how a living vehicle occupant would fare in an identical crash. Event data recorders provide a more accurate representation of the physical forces at play in accidents involving living drivers. Event data recorders gather information from sensors located throughout a vehicle, including information on how fast a car is going, whether the accelerator or brakes are being applied, and information from the car’s engine. These devices typically record over the data collected every five seconds. However, when an accident occurs of sufficient severity to trigger or nearly trigger deployment of the car’s airbags, event data recorders will store information received from these sensors beginning five seconds before the impact, which can later be retrieved to study what occurred in an accident.

One group of Swedish researchers looked at information gathered from event data recorders located in over 200 vehicles that had been involved in rear-end accidents. Examining this information alongside medical reports and interviews conducted with those vehicles’ occupants, the researchers sought to discover what forces or speeds resulted in more serious whiplash injuries to the car’s occupants. The team learned that the greater the mean acceleration and change in velocity of the car being hit, the more likely it became that the occupants would experience whiplash symptoms lasting a month or longer. Essentially, the more severe a crash was, the longer the occupants would experience symptoms of whiplash, even if those symptoms were not extremely severe. The researchers also learned that, immediately after a crash, women were more prone to experiencing whiplash-related symptoms than were men.

If you or someone you love has been hurt in a crash in South Carolina, contact the knowledgeable Columbia car accident lawyers at Peake & Fowler for a consultation on your claims, at 803-788-4370.