Every day, someone is involved in an auto accident that results in injuries to the neck and upper back. In layman’s terms, it is often referred to as a whiplash. While this is not an actual diagnosis, it is a term familiar to most when referring to the type of injury when the occupants of one vehicle are injured due to a second vehicle striking the first from behind.
The severity of injury is often very different from one victim to another. Besides the size of each vehicle and the speed of impact, there are a number of other factors that can affect the seriousness of these “whiplash” injuries. Some of the more common factors include:
- The body position at impact
- The overall health of the victim
- The awareness of the impending impact
- The gender of the victim
The body position at impact
The position of the victim at the time of impact can greatly affect the severity of injury. Research has shown that if the head is turned to one side, it brings the ligaments and muscles to tension which then requires less force to produce the injury.
The overall health of the victim
The overall health of an individual is a key component in the severity of injury. When a person’s muscles are in better shape, they are stronger and provide greater stabilization of the neck on impact.
Another health factor is the condition of the spinal disc and joints. If there is preexisting arthritic degeneration, it weakens the joint integrity and requires less force to produce injury. This degeneration can also delay or limit the healing process of the damage area.
The awareness of the impending impact
Whether or not the occupant is aware of the approaching impact is a key factor affecting the amount of injury. When the victim is unaware of the pending impact, they are unable to brace or stabilize their neck.
The research has demonstrated that the actual injury takes place in 1/10 of a second after impact; that is quicker than we can blink our eye and quicker than our muscles can tighten to protect the neck.
Those that are aware that the collision is about to happen can tighten their neck muscles, thereby providing some stabilization of the neck. This lessens the sudden whipping action and thus decreases the severity of injury.
The Gender Of The Victim
While men and women are equal in many ways, unfortunately, they are not when it comes to the potential severity of an injury. On average, a female’s musculature and spinal vertebra are smaller than the male. Since they are smaller and weaker, they are less likely to provide enough protective stabilization during the impact.
As you can see, there are many factors that can contribute to the severity of a whiplash injury. These factors are the reason that no two injuries are the same even if they are in the same vehicle! Proper consultation and examination are a must if the full extent of an injury is to be documented.
Dr. Adam Elsey has years of experience documenting and treating those that have been injured in car collision, His thorough history helps to discover all the factors that may affect the severity of an injury. Should you or someone you know suffer a whiplash type injury, call Dr. Adam Elsey at 314.731.4301 right away.
Resource Link: http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/neck-pain/factors-affecting-whiplash-injury