WHAT IS WHIPLASH INJURY?

Tryk Law - Fresno Accident Injury Attorneys can handle your Whiplash Accident Injury Case
Whiplash Associated Disorder
 
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death of people aged 3 to 33 in the United States. You can die from a whiplash neck injury in a car accident. Most people, of course, don't but it can happen.

Whiplash injury is caused by acceleration-deceleration force which transfers its energy to the cervical spine. Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD) refers to symptoms which occur after a whiplash injury. WAD usually results from rear end motor vehicle crashes or similar trauma. WAD can also result from front end, side and rollover crashes. Approximately 3.9 million rear end crashes occur in the US each year. Damage can occur even in low velocity accidents. The trauma is usually sudden and occur when the muscles are relaxed which allows more force on ligaments and joints, forcing the neck beyond normal range of motion.

No one has really done a good study that we have seen to calculate the costs of whiplash injuries. Suffice to say, it is a small fortune. They did such a study in Holland and found that the total costs (direct and indirect) of neck pain were estimated to be $686 million, 1% of total health care expenses. If it is anywhere close to this in the U.S., and it likely is, we are talking about tens of billions of dollars.
 
Whiplash Diagram - Personal injury in Fresno CA
 
​Diagnosis​
Whiplash Associated Disorder is difficult to diagnose due to varied symptoms. Furthermore, X-rays do not usually detect soft tissue lesions and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may underestimate or miss the injury. Though much scientific research has been done, structural damage to the spine and connective tissue from whiplash is relatively unknown.
Symptom Patterns and Gender Differences​
 
Whiplash Anatomy - Personal injury in Fresno CA
 
Whiplash Associated Disorder may have varied signs and symptoms in patients, many of which go unreported. The most notable symptom is neck pain. Other symptoms include headache, sleep problems, reduced range of motion, numbness, poor concentration, vision problems, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), fatigue/weakness, depression, and other associated pains such as shoulder, arm and jaw pain.

In a Swedish study conducted in 1105 patients, symptom patterns were reviewed over a 6 month period following the injury. The study also compared differences in symptoms between men and women. Patients completed a baseline questionnaire and a follow-up questionnaire.

The baseline questionnaire was completed on average 18.2 days following the motor vehicle collision and follow up 206.8 days following the collision. Most patients reported neck pain following the accident (98.3% in men and 99.3% in women), however on completion of the baseline questionnaire the prevalence was 81.4% in men and 84.7% in women and further reduced to 44% and 45%, respectively, at follow up.
 
A similar course of recovery was demonstrated for headache and cervical range of motion. Though there were no marked gender differences with respect to prevalence of neck or lower back pain, women reported greater intensity of headache and post-traumatic stress and greater frequency of headache, numbness/tingling in upper limbs, memory and concentration problems and dizziness compared to men.

Men had a significant increase in frequency of memory problems from baseline to follow up (6.7% to 12.6%). This study demonstrated that there symptoms common to WAD other than neck pain, which confirmed earlier findings of a Canadian study.
​Prevalence and Outcomes​
Whiplash Associated Disorder is reported to be the most common injury from motor vehicle accidents in Western countries and is reported to occur in approximately 12 of every 100 crashes. Though whiplash injuries generally resolve within six months of the accident, an estimated 15-20% will suffer chronic debilitating pain. 70% of patients recover completely within a year following the accident and only 82% completely recover after 2 years. In most cases, the ligaments and muscles have been strained past normal range of motion. This results in the ligaments or muscles becoming inflamed and painful. Within 3 months, soft tissue injuries usually heal. Chronic pain may be a result to injury to discs or facet joints. However, in many patients the source is never determined.
​Lawsuits and Outcome​
Almost everyone - even family members - question whether a severe whiplash patients injuries are as bad as the patient says. Obviously, there is the archetype "I'm wearing this neck brace and acting hurt so I can get money in a settlement" caricature. But the studies actually show a different picture.

Studies have demonstrated that there is no association between injury outcomes with personal injury litigation. In one study, researchers followed 41 patients how suffered whiplash injuries and had personal injury lawsuits. Ten years following settlement, only 12% had completely recovered and 48% continued to have pain which interfered with daily living. Not a big study, but you get the point. Another study reported on patients 8 years following initial legal consultation and concluded that the timing and degree of recovery was not influenced by lawsuits.
​Treatment and Prevention​
Treatment of WAD may include physical therapy, injections and in some cases surgery. The overall effectiveness of treatment is not clear as they have not been scientifically evaluated.

Over the past 40 years, vehicle manufacturers have been constantly changing vehicle designs which has led to reduction in neck injuries in vehicles involved in collisions. Most notably, modern designs of seat backs and head rests and restraints have been responsible for this decline.

Automobile manufacturers are investigating other technologies including sensing technologies which are able to anticipate crashes before they occur and adjust head restraints in response and initiate hazard flashers to alert the oncoming vehicle as a mechanism to prevent the collision.
Hiring an Attorney​
If you have suffered a neck injury as the result of a car accident or truck accident, you need a lawyer that understands the medicine and mechanism of injury in disc injury cases – particularly WAD and Whiplash Type Injuries. Call us for a free no obligation consultation. You can speak to a lawyer today by calling 888-655-1358 or online by clicking here.