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Last Modified: November 8, 2021


rear-ended car accident Whiplash generally occurs from accidents and other intense positions which jerk the body forward. The exact definition of whiplash is considered a “non-medical term describing a range of injuries to the neck caused by or related to a sudden distortion of the neck associated with extension.”  Like most injuries, they can vary in their severity and subsequently can cause more injuries if not treated correctly.  The following is a list of causes for whiplash, treatment, and prevention of whiplash.

Causes of Whiplash

The exact cause or determinate of whiplash is relatively unknown (meaning there is not one spot that if injured directly causes whiplash).  Some doctors believe whiplash is caused by stretching along the spine, ligament tears, or the stretching of the neck muscles.  If an individual has whiplash due to an automobile accident it is considered to be a cervical acceleration-deceleration injury. In cases where the individual is hit from behind, most commonly the individual compresses parts of the spine and subsequently releases it in an amount of time that the spine can’t readjust.  This then hyper-extends the back or into the neck. Besides car related whiplash injuries, several people also experience whiplash at amusement parks; specifically on roller coasters.  The jerking motion of these machines causes people to jerk their necks back and forth, ultimately causing their necks to be jerked or tilted incorrectly.  Sports, especially football or roller derby can cause jerky motions which your body will not be able to respond to in time. It is important for individuals to remember that the neck is a complex part of the body and must be protected.

Treatment of Whiplash

There are different types of treatment for varying degrees of whiplash. If you have only experienced minor whiplash, most doctors would suggest you take a few days off and take it easy.  If you have been hospitalized for whiplash they classify it on a scale from zero to four, from the Quebec Task Force:

  • Zero: No neck pain whatsoever.  No noticeable soreness or disconnected parts.
  • One: Stiffness or tenderness.  The doctor cannot see anything.
  • Two: Moderate stiffness, and limited range of motion.  Physician noticed some pain.
  • Three:  Severe stiffness, and neurological signs.  Decrease or ultimate changes in mood.
  • Four: Neck fractures, dislocation, or injury to the spinal cord that needs surgery or other intense medical care.

Doctors may prescribe pain medication or neck braces depending on the severity of the neck issue. The difference or severity of the injury could also cause you to be out of work for a couple of days.

Preventing Whiplash

Researchers and developers of cars have been trying to create the best automobile seats to help prevent whiplash.  The idea is to design a seat so that when you get hit, your back and neck are supported and help prevent a whiplash injury. What designers have to be careful of is creating a seat that harms, rather then prevents such injuries in an accident.  Most companies today have perfected their seat design for most vehicle styles. As of late, researchers have been directly focusing on the head rests.  In their research, they have found that the advances in head rests, which would protect the driver or passenger from sustaining a whiplash is typically not used correctly by the driver in the first place.  Many drivers have their head rest in the wrong place, and while they think it is comfortable, it is usually not the safest or in the best position to prevent whiplash.  The head rest should provide support so your head does not whip back upon impact.

Contact Us

If you have experienced whiplash due to someone else’s negligence you should call Christensen & Hymas for a free confidential consultation.  We will help you get the justice and money you need to pay for your medical bills.  Call us today at 801-506-0800.

Image “Fort Collins Whiplash” copyright by Ryan Weisgerber.

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