Whiplash and Car Accidents

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What is Whiplash?

No matter how we try to play it safe, there are simply some things we can’t control and getting into a car accident is one of them. More than the trauma, car accidents can leave us with minor or major injuries and one of them is whiplash. Whiplash is a relatively common injury that occurs following a sudden acceleration-deceleration force, causing the head (and brain within the skull) to be moved violently forwards and backwards.
This sudden impact at the cervical spine may result in injuries to the bony structures (spine), the supporting ligaments and muscles, as well as the deleicate nerves and spinal cord.[1]

Classifications of Whiplash

The degree of injury varies which is why a document entitled Quebec Task Force Guidelines For Whiplash Associated Disorders[2] recommended a classification of the types of whiplash injuries.
Let’s imagine you’re the victim of a car accident and a practitioner is attending you. Once the practitioner is done examining, they will determine your Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD) classification. Your WAD would depend on the pain or discomfort you might feel and how the attending practitioner evaluates your case.

  • WAD O You don’t feel any pain or discomfort at all. No physical signs are seen by a practitioner.
  • WAD I You only feel a bit of pain, perhaps somewhere around your neck. The practitioner doesn’t find any critical signs.
  • WAD II You feel pain around your neck. The practitioner observes limited range of motion, swelling, or point tenderness in neck or shoulders.
  • WADIII You feel a lot of pain around your neck. The practitioner observes neurological signs such as weakness, limited skin sensation, and decreased or absent reflexes.
  • WAD IV Pain is evident around the neck area and the practitioner observes a fracture or dislocation, or injury to the spinal cord.

The higher the grade, generally, the more serious the injury is and the more attention you require. That being said, its always best to have your spine and brain function assessed following any whiplash injuries. Dizziness and Balance clinic in Sydney are perfectly suited in assessing your spinal and brain function, followed by individually tailored therapy if required.

Common Causes of Whiplash

The common causes of whiplash are any type of incident that causes the neck to jerk forward or backward. Such causes can be anywhere from something as simple as

  • riding the roller coaster
  • horse riding
  • contact sports, like football, soccer, hockey and basketball
  • car accident
Effects of Whiplash on the Brain

Whiplash is more than a simple neck injury. The speed of the car plus the sudden stop has the brain take a beating while the neck is forcefully snapped in various directions, causing dizziness and affecting balance. Mild traumatic brain injury or mTBI can occur when you get whiplash and if left undiagnosed can cause the following:

  • Blurred vision
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Vertigo
  • Brain Fog
  • Memory issues
Prevalence of Whiplash

Whiplash injuries are unfortunately quite common. In fact, whiplash caused by car accidents account for more than 65% of all bodily injury claims. The Spine Research Institute of San Diego[3] collected the following whiplash statistics.

  • More than 3 million Americans are injured by whiplash every year.
  • About 10% of those injured become permanently disabled.
  • “Minor” neck injuries account for up to 60% of all permanent impairment claims.
  • Nearly half of all chronic neck pain in America is due to car accidents.
  • Children are at 2/3 the risk of adults.
Whiplash and how it affects your life

Whiplash is more than a pain in the neck! It can causes problems within your brain that make you feel dizzy, nauseas, headache, fearful and anxious, brain fog, fatigue and even depression.
Don’t let a simple car bingle end up affecting your life. Consult a professional who has expereince and the rsults to get you feeling better, quickly . At Dizziness and Balance Clinic, their proven vestibular rehabilitation and brain-based therapy, will accurately assess, explain and treat your whiplash.
Call the Dizziness and Balance Clinic on 8073 3337, and see how they can offer you the right solution to your problem.

References :
  1. Daenen, L., Nijs, J., Raadsen, B., Roussel, N., Cras, P., & Dankaerts, W. (2013). Cervical motor dysfunction and its predictive value for long-term recovery in patients with acute whiplash-associated disorders: A systematic review. J Rehabil Med Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 113-122.
  2. Overview of Quebec Task Force Clinical Classification of Whiplash Associated Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  3. Statistics and Risk Factors. (1998). Retrieved August 25, 2015.
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