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Auto Accident Chiropractor

Auto Accident Chiropractic – Four Major Auto Accident Injuries and Common Symptoms

Auto Accident - WhiplashWhen a joint in the spine is misaligned after an auto accident, it can irritate or even obstruct the electrical signal of its neighboring nerve. When this happens, nerves cannot deliver the full capacity of information they are designed to carry. This may call for the expert help of an Auto Accident Chiropractor (aka Personal Injury Chiropractor).

Since nerves supply information to every cell in our bodies, the function of organs can also be impaired and your overall health can be compromised.

Every type of accident produces different types of injuries. For your convenience, we have broken the injuries out by the type of accident that caused them. Although we can’t cover every injury that could possibly be sustained in a car accident, these sections will cover most major and common injuries, along with what symptoms you should be alert for.

  • Whiplash Injuries are the most common type of injury for occupants of a car that has been rear-ended.
  • Frontal Collisions cause injuries by throwing the occupants towards the front of the vehicle.
  • Roll-Over Accidents injure passengers by ejecting them from the vehicle or by crumpling the car into them.

Auto Accident Chiropractic – Whiplash Injuries

Whiplash injuries are caused by rear-end collisions. A tremendous volume of research has been conducted to determine the amount and extent of these injuries. Because in most cases these are not life threatening, the insurance industry, spouses of the victims and doctors really do not understand the ordeal that these individuals are suffering through. In almost every instance, the whiplash patient was the victim of someone else’s neglect. Furthermore, in almost every instance, the occupant was unaware of the impending collision and unable to brace themselves. This single factor may be one of the most important reasons why whiplash injuries are so misunderstood.

Gender plays an important role in whiplash injuries. Research shows that females suffer at a greater degree than males. They are more likely to suffer for a longer period of time and more likely to develop chronic problems and/or permanent impairment from these injuries. Some theories are that the female neck is less muscular, has a smaller circumference, and in some cases is longer than those of males, which would all lead to greater forces involved in the creation of their injuries.

The first phase of a whiplash injury occurs between 0-100 milliseconds after impact. In this phase, the car may move only 4-6 inches while the occupant remains motionless. The occupant’s hips and lower back will move forward and generally upward in the seat. The neck will accelerate upwards at a rate ranging from 0.3 g’s to 2.0 g’s of force (g = the force of gravity = 32ft/sec 2).

The second phase of a whiplash injury can occur 100-200 milliseconds after impact. In this phase the seat back will reach its maximum flexion. The head, while remaining motionless since no direct force is being applied to it, will appear to go backward as the g force and momentum applied to the torso continue to push it forward, depending on the speed. At around 5 mph it may pull up to 5 g’s of force.

In the third phase of a whiplash injury (200-300 milliseconds after impact), the shoulders and upper body can reach a height of 3-4 inches above their original position. The head and neck will reach their maximum rotation and extension. The head then begins to accelerate forward and the rest of the body starts to lower.

In the fourth phase of a whiplash injury (300-400 milliseconds after impact), the body is moving with the seat and the restraint creates a forward deceleration of the head which can be at around 2 g’s. After this phase the occupant is moving in sync with the car.

Some of the injuries that can be sustained in a whiplash situations are as follows:

  • Injuries to the head and neck
  • Brain injuries (generally minor brain injuries or concussions)
  • Spinal and Clavicle fractures
  • Herniations of the spinal disks
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Internal injuries – sometimes caused by lap belts
  • Bruises
  • Abrasions (scrapes) – sometimes from the shoulder restraint
  • Jaw injuries
  • Chest injuries

In many instances, symptoms of these injuries will not occur immediately. Instead they may take 24-72 hours to manifest themselves. Some of the common symptoms for the above injuries include:

  • Pain to the neck and back
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of taste, smell, or hearing
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Swelling
  • Loss of motion to the area/stiffness/tightness
  • Visualized bruising
  • Shoulder and arm pain
  • Jaw pain

These are not all of the types of injuries reported from rear-end accidents. If you have been involved in one of these it is important that you consult a professional in your area for an examination or consultation.

Auto Accident Chiropractic -Rear-end Collision Injuries

Rear-end collisions, commonly known as whiplash accidents are those caused by impact to the rear of the vehicle. Currently in the United States these are the most common vehicle collisions with well over two and a half million reported each year, according to the National Safety Council. The damage to the vehicle can range from negligible to total. In many cases of rear-end collision, what looks like an undamaged vehicle can be misleading when it comes to determining occupant injuries. The bumper systems that are on these vehicles are designed to take up to a 5-mph impact without visible damage. These standards are set by the government and car manufacturers and are obligated to design their vehicles in such a manner.

There are several types of bumper systems including a honeycomb design, a foam core design, and an isolator/shock absorber/pistons designs, which moves in and out on impact. These bumper designs are intended to reduce damage to the body of the vehicle, not the bodies of the occupants. Bumper specifications are designed for barrier impact, I.e. a solid object, like a wall, which has different dynamics than a car-to-car impact. In actual circumstances, these bumpers may be able to survive a car-to-car impact of 8-9 mph with little or no vehicle damage. (See also Low Speed Impact)

In a rear end collision, the energy from the striking (rear) car is transferred to the front car, propelling it forward until it comes to rest, per Newton’s first law of motion. The back of the car seat pushes the occupant forward, as well as lifting them up. The head, not being connected to any part of the seat, remains stationary, which gives the head the appearance of backward motion, relative to the rest of the body and the car seat. As the car comes to a stop, the occupant’s body is generally thrown forward. If not wearing a seat belt and shoulder harness, the occupant may strike the steering wheel, dashboard or windshield. If the seat belt and shoulder harness are in use the head will be thrown forward over the torso, while the upper body is restrained to the seat, resulting in a risk of greater neck injury. This has been referred to as “acceleration-deceleration injury” and “hypertension-hyperflexion,” but is most commonly known as whiplash.

Whiplash injury to the neck is generally thought to come from hyperextension. In terms of reference, imagine your head as a 10-12 lb bowling ball supported by the neck muscles. At the time of impact it is whipped backward and then forward in a brief time period, often as little as 1/4 of a second.

The body was not designed for the sudden unaware abnormal motions that occur at the time of a rear-end collision. A common myth that is promoted by the insurance industry is that if there is no vehicle damage there can be no occupant injuries. This is completely unfounded. As studies are becoming more sophisticated we are learning a great deal more about low speed injury to the spine. Another common myth is that being struck on a slippery surface (like ice, snow, or wet pavement) causes less occupant injury than being struck on a dry surface. The truth of the matter may be just the opposite. This is simply explained by the fact that road friction is much lower on wet and icy surfaces. When present, friction helps to keep the car from lurching forward when hit.

Accident Recinstructionists generally use a method known as “conservation of momentum” in determining the speed of vehicles at the time of impact. However, when surfaces and low speed are involved, the coefficient of restitution (“friction,” for those of us who are not physicists or mechanical engineers) is a much more significant factor in the dynamics of the accident. For an example of this consider two sets of balls, one set is two ordinary billiard balls, the other is two identically sized and weighted balls made of soft clay. When the billiard balls strike each other, they spring apart as most of the original momentum is conserved. The clay balls, however, stop right next to each other, the kinetic energy (momentum) having been expended in the flattening of the shape of the balls where they hit. This is why the surface (in your car’s case, usually the bumper) plays such an important role in the impact.

National Center for Statistics and Analysis, is responsible for providing a wide range of analytical and statistical support to NHTSA and the highway safety community at large.

Injuries to occupants in these vehicles depend on many different factors.

  • The position of the occupant at the time of impact
  • The weights of the vehicles involved
  • The road condition (wet, icy, dry) at the time of the accident
  • The speed(s) at impact
  • The head rest heights and position in the vehicle
  • The rigidity of the occupants seat
  • Prior awareness of the coming impact
  • Seat belts and shoulder harnesses

Auto Accident Chiropractic – Frontal Collision Injuries

Injuries caused by head-on collisions and barriers, depending on the speed, can vary in severity from mild to moderate to fatal. In the other two types of frontal collisions, again, depending on speed, can cause similar types of injuries, but with generally less fatalities and serious injuries.

The size and crash worthiness of the vehicle(s) is also a determining factor for injuries. In all these types of accidents, any and all body parts can contact rigid surfaces in the vehicle. For instance, you can strike the dashboard inside you vehicle, steering wheel, windshield, support posts, and seats in front of you if you are seated in the back seat of a vehicle involved in this type of crash. In older vehicles, the steering column can be a source of severe injury.

Airbags, shoulder harnesses and seat belts, while preventing many serious and fatal injuries, can also lead to injuries in frontal type collisions.

Some of the injuries that can be sustained in a frontal collision are as follows:

  • Injuries to the head and neck
  • Brain injuries
  • Spinal fractures
  • Rib and Clavicle fractures
  • Extremity (arms & legs) fractures
  • Concussions
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Internal injuries – sometimes caused by lap belts
  • Dislocations
  • Abrasions (scrapes) – sometimes from the shoulder restraint
  • Cuts
  • Bruises

In many instances, symptoms of these injuries will not occur immediately. Instead they may take up to 72 hours to manifest themselves. Some of the common symptoms for the above injuries include:

  • Pain
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of taste, smell, or hearing
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Swelling
  • Loss of motion to the area/stiffness/tightness
  • Visualized bruising

These are not all of the types of injuries reported from frontal collisions. If you have been involved in one of these it is important that you consult a professional in your area for an examination or consultation.

Auto Accident Chiropractic – Roll-Over Accident Injuries

The injuries to the victims or roll-over accidents can vary from minor to fatal. The injury mechanisms generally occur when the roof strikes the ground. The seat and the restraint generally will confine the occupant until the vehicle strikes the roof and at that time, depending on where the occupant is seated, the roof may collapse and cause injury to occur at that time. If the occupant comes in contact with any collapsing parts of the vehicle, the severity of the resulting injury increases.

Some of the injuries that can be sustained in a roll-over accident are as follows:

  • Injuries to the head and neck (most common)
  • Brain injuries
  • Spinal fractures
  • Extremity (arm & leg) fractures
  • Concussions
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Internal injuries – sometimes caused by lap belts
  • Dislocations
  • Abrasions (scrapes) – sometimes from the shoulder restraint
  • Cuts

In many instances, symptoms of these injuries will not occur immediately. Instead they may take up to 48 hours to manifest themselves. Some of the common symptoms for the above injuries include:

  • Pain
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of taste, smell, or hearing
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Fatigue
  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Swelling
  • Loss of motion to the area/stiffness/tightness
  • Visualized bruising

These are not all of the types of injuries reported from roll-over accidents. If you have been involved in one of these it is important that you consult a professional in your area for an examination or consultation.

Auto Accident Chiropractic – Side Impact Injuries

Injuries caused by side impact collisions, depending on the speed, can vary in severity from mild to moderate to fatal.

The size and crash worthiness of the vehicle(s) is also a determining factor for injuries. In these types of accidents, any and all body parts can contact rigid surfaces in the vehicle. For instance, you can strike the door inside your vehicle, support posts, and the console.

  • Side-Airbags, shoulder harnesses and seat belts, can help to lessen serious and fatal injuries.
  • Some of the injuries that can be sustained in a side impact collision are as follows:
  • Injuries to the head and neck
  • Brain injuries
  • Extremity (arms & legs) fractures
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Dislocations
  • Abrasions (scrapes)
  • Bruises

In many instances, symptoms of these injuries will not occur immediately. Instead they may take up to 72 hours to manifest themselves. Some of the common symptoms for the above injuries include:

  • Pain
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of taste, smell, or hearing
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Swelling
  • Loss of motion to the area/stiffness/tightness
  • Visualized bruising

These are not all of the types of injuries reported from side impact collisions. If you have been involved in one of these it is important that you consult a professional in your area for an examination or consultation.

Children as Car Accident Victims
Each year children of all ages are victims of automobile accidents, suffering numerous types of injuries. It is important to realize that children suffer the same types of injuries as adults, they just may not be able to articulate their injury. In many cases even though they are in their child seat, that can’t keep them injury free. Depending on the age of the child, you may have to watch for secondary symptoms to make sure the child is not injured.

  • Things to look for in younger children are:
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Blood in the urine or stool
  • Changes in their daily routine
  • Changes in their normal moods or emotions.
  • Older children are much more likely to exhibit the signs and symptoms of adults as outlined elsewhere in this site.

Parents should also be aware of the possibility for injuries caused by airbags and the restraint system (seat belt and shoulder harness).

Children and Restraints – Seat Belts and Shoulder Harnesses

Injuries that arise from the vehicle’s restraint system are dependent on the velocities, speeds, involved in the collision. They can vary in type from internal injuries caused by the lap belt to fractures of the clavicle from the shoulder harness, to back and neck injuries caused by the anchoring mechanism of the restraint. More common and less severe are bruises, abrasions and, for females, chest injuries.

Injuries to children from seat belts and shoulder harnesses can be as severe as to adults. This is primarily due to the fact that these restraints are designed to fit adults and improperly hold children.

Children and Airbag Injuries

Car seating: First and foremost, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), says not to put children under 11 years of age in the front seat. These children should be seated in the back seat with a seat belt and shoulder harness on. When they must sit in the front seat, the seat should be moved back as far as possible form the airbag housing.

The NHTSA also recommends never placing rear-facing infant seats in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger side airbag. Infants must always ride facing the rear of the car in the back seat.

Even for adults, it is recommended that you sit at least 10-12 inches away from the airbag housing.

General Information

Airbags deploy in about 0.06 seconds and at speeds of over 200 mph. They must be quick because the typical auto accident lasts about 0.125 seconds. A sensor, in conjunction with an onboard computer, decides whether or not to deploy the airbag based on the severity of the accident. This is usually triggered by the change in velocity (speed) of the vehicle.

Types of injuries:

  • Fatalities, although rare, can occur
  • Injuries that can be caused by airbag deployment include
  • Injuries to the head
  • Injuries to the face
  • Injuries to the chest
  • Injuries to the arms
  • Injuries to the eyes
  • Fractures
  • Bruises and abrasions (very common)

These are not all of the types of injuries reported from airbag deployment. If you or your child have been involved in an accident involving airbag deployment, it is important that you consult a professional Auto accident chiropractor (personal injury chiropractor) in your area for an examination and consultation.

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