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Whiplash injuries are perhaps the most common forms of injuries to motorists. The whiplash injury is actually a colloquial term used to describe any injury that is caused to a person’s neck due to a sudden acceleration force or deceleration impact. This form of an injury will usually cause damage to the bone structure as well as the soft tissues in the neck (the ligaments, tendons and muscles). Though not fatal; whiplash injuries can still leave the affected person with partial disablement. Some people are fortunate enough to recover quickly but there can be cases when these injuries culminate into chronic whiplash related disorders. In such cases, the affected person continues to experience the symptoms for years together.
To be more specific, a whiplash injury occurs most commonly when a person riding or driving a motor vehicle is hit from behind when his or her vehicle is not in motion. The injury is due to the sudden impact on the back of the neck. Motor accidents are a common cause of whiplash injuries but this can happen even while doing other strenuous physical activities. In simpler terms, whiplash injury is caused due to any sudden abnormal motion or force that causes the neck to move beyond its normal range of motion.
The cervical whiplash refers to a hyperextension-hyperflexion injury around the cervical spine. There might be various causes to such an injury but it could result in a spine fracture. This could cause partial or complete neurologic deficit. The victim of a cervical whiplash has to go through intense medical treatments in order to achieve functional rehabilitation.
A neck sprain or injury is referred to as neck whiplash. This is generally caused to irregular movement of the neck due to a sudden impact. It could cause a slight distortion causing intense pain in and around the neck area. A neck whiplash is often a resultant of a car accident that had caused a sudden extension (backward movement of the neck) or flexion (forward movement of the neck). Depending upon the severity of the injury, the treatment might take a few days to even months of bed rest.
Signs | Symptoms of whiplash injuries
The severity of the whiplash injury depends upon the symptoms that the person will experience. Generally, the symptoms or the signs start appearing minutes or a few hours post the accident. If the symptoms appear within a few minutes, there are higher chances of a more serious whiplash injury than if the symptoms appear later. The most common complaints associated with a whiplash injury are headache and stiffness of neck or back of the head. These symptoms usually will pass off after a couple of days of the injury. However, if these symptoms aggravate or the person experiences more serious symptoms (as mentioned below), then it could be a sign of a serious whiplash injury.
The common symptoms of a whiplash injury are –
2. Stiffness of neck or back of head
3. Swelling around the neck and shoulders
4. Tenderness in the neck and back
5. Difficulty in moving neck
If the affected person falls unconscious or experiences memory loss after a whiplash injury, he or she must be immediately taken for a medical examination.
Treatment of Whiplash injuries
When a victim of whiplash injury is taken for a medical examination, the doctor will first check for any signs of cuts or bruises on the neck, back or shoulder. The person will then be examined for physical alertness or consciousness. Reflexes at the joints of both arms and legs are checked. The doctor will also examine the severity of pain and tenderness around the injury. In most cases, the victim is referred for the following investigations –
1. X-ray of the neck
2. Computed Tomography Scan (CT Scan)
Depending upon the results of the investigations, the doctor will recommend a treatment plan which could be a combination of the following –
1. Cervical collar: Soft cervical collar is commonly used to treat whiplash injury in the initial phase. The collar holds the neck in place and prevents any further injuries.
2. Self care: Most doctors also recommend some self care for treating whiplash injuries. This could include applying ice packs on the neck for about 20 minutes every hour. The ice helps in soothing the pain and reducing the swelling. Appropriate but not prolonged rest is also important.
3. Oral pain relievers: Ibuprofen or aspirin along with other pain relievers and paracetamol etc can also help in relieving the associated pain and illness.
A few days of rest to the neck muscles will help in alleviating the pain. However, a more profound injury will require prolonged bed rest to let the injury heal completely.
Whiplash Injury compensation
As mentioned above, a whiplash injury is most commonly caused due to a motor accident. In such cases, the victim of the accident faces several after affects which could include –
1. Loss of pay due to extended rest periods required to treat the injury.
2. Economic losses in the form of treatment and recovery expenses.
3. Emotional trauma on dealing with livelihood without any source of income.
Due to the above reasons, the victim can claim whiplash injury compensation if the accident caused was not due to his or her fault. Several factors like the extent of injury, age, gender and smoking habits of the victim are considered to derive at the compensation amount.
How can personal injury lawyer help in this case?
Claiming whiplash injury compensation is easier with the help of a personal injury lawyer. Accidents, injuries and falls can happen to perhaps anyone, anytime. Claiming injury compensation eases the process of dealing with the injury that has disrupted the normal way of life. A whiplash injury is a personal injury hence a personal injury lawyer should be contacted to claim compensation.
The personal injury lawyer will review the medical reports and the impact of the injury on the victim’s financial and emotional condition. This will help him in deciding the most appropriate monetary compensation that should be claimed for.
Whiplash injury statistics
Whiplash injuries have become increasingly common due to the increasing traffic on the roads. There are about 200 such injuries reported each day in most states of United States and Canada. Most injuries occur often at a speed below 10mph. Also, there is a possibility of a serious injury without the car getting damaged.
About 10% of victims of whiplash injuries are disabled permanently and over 60% of them need long-term medical treatment.